denyce: (OaT: V Manfield)
[personal profile] denyce
Title: Thinking Outside the Box
Author: Denyce
Fandom: Once a Thief
Pairing/Characters: LiAnn/Mac/Victor
Rating/Category: R, 3some, slash
Prompt: working things out
Spoilers: na
Word count: 7607
Summary: The Director forces LiAnn to make a choice, and what she decides surprises even her.
Notes: [livejournal.com profile] jenab's prompt claimed from [livejournal.com profile] smallfandomfest: Once a Thief, Mac/Vic/Li Ann, working things out
With a Huge thank you to [livejournal.com profile] rivestra & to [livejournal.com profile] varkelton for the beta.



Coffee in hand, smiling, LiAnn walked into the conference room and looked around before asking, "Am I too early?" upon finding only herself and the Director, who stood near the head of the table.

Her smile faded as she heard the Director’s icy tone, "Have a seat."

Unfazed, LiAnn ignored the Director’s brisk manner and pulled out a chair to sit down, quickly squashing the prickle of annoyance over her partner’s habitual lateness- a behavior Victor didn’t exhibit until after Mac had shown up. Curious, she asked, "Ah, where are Vic and Mac?” then snickered as she added beneath her breath, “In trouble again?"

Turning around, the Director’s eyebrow raised, then moved as she asked, “Hmm, do you care?”

“What?” LiAnn demanded as she tried to twist around to face the accusation, even as the Director walked up behind LiAnn’s chair, her arm reaching out to hold her in place.

“You heard me. Besides this doesn't directly concern them. I’m actually more concerned about you, and your recent behavior. Your responsibility."

Startled by her words, LiAnn straightened up and questioned. "My responsibility?"

Quickly she made a mental list, going over the last few days, analyzing her behavior, her actions, anything that would warrant a private audience with the Director. She racked her brain and after a few moments realized her behavior was, if anything, exemplary. Maybe she was rationalizing, but the Director couldn’t expect her to rein in her partners, could she? Because from her point of view, the only behavioral problems they had were Mac and Vic.

There was no doubt their behavior was borderline. Enough that she had distanced herself from the agreements and juvenile pranks. Even levelheaded Victor, who at one time seemed above such pettiness, had descended to Mac's competitive, five-year-old mentality. Overall, this wasn't about her, it was once again about partners - especially Mac, and his need for attention. The only things that surprised her were that Mac wasn't here, receiving the brunt of it, and that Vic wasn't sitting next to her, sharing in the misery of getting a dress-down on responsibility and teamwork.

Her responsibility: meaning her decision to ignore them had allowed the problem to go escalate unchecked.

"Well?" The Director waited for her response.

She felt her shoulders sag slightly under the Director’s glare. As subtly as possible she straightened back up in her seat. Turning her head, LiAnn inquired, "Mac and Vic?"

"And?"

Damn it!

Of course the Director would want an elaborate explanation. Like LiAnn ever understood what the hell was going on inside Mac's head—not that she wanted to. Not to mention Victor’s head, especially when ever he had to deal with Mac and his delusions of winning a grand prize. Essentially her.

Aggravated, she glanced back up and wasn’t surprised to find The Director impatiently waiting, her arms crossed, expecting more.

Sighing, LiAnn continued, "They've been acting like children. Almost jeopardizing the mission and our objectives."

The Director nodded, her voice dripping condescension, she added, "True. Go on."

Teeth clenched in frustration, LiAnn snapped. "I’m not their mother, can’t control what they do.” her flippant response echoed her emotional state, something she never did, but would have made Mac proud. “I'm not even the team leader. That’s Victor, he has more seniority than I do. Meaning it’s NOT my responsibility. So shouldn’t you be having this conversion with Victor?" Awkwardly she glanced at the Director, but couldn’t hold her stare as shame washed over her as she tried to pass the buck—because even if she didn’t get it now, the fact the Director had her here instead of Victor meant there was more to this than just a team leader’s responsibility.

Stiff staring blankly at the wall, LiAnn could feel the heated stare of the Director. Butterflies fluttered in her stomach as she tried to wait out the deadened silence.

The sharp ping of the Director’s heels bounced off the walls as she moved suddenly in behind LiAnn. She spun the chair around so LiAnn was forced to face her, then leaned down, her face mere inches from LiAnn’s. “But you are responsible.”

LiAnn didn’t dare blink or look away, even after the Director pulled back, her silent demand clear. “Long before you ever arrived, it was my job to research, prepare and calculate human behavior in order to analyze the dynamics that go into making a good team. I have a strong, solid record—one you’re about to destroy.” The Director straightened, annoyed, when she saw LiAnn about to speak. “Don’t.” Turning away, she grabbed the remote from the table and clicked it. A screen dropped. Images filled the screen. Of LiAnn after she initially arrived in the city, before she joined the Agency, of her meeting Victor. “Pairing you with Victor wasn’t a random choice—not by a long shot.”

Another click followed and a string of older shots filled the screen, shots of her with the Tangs—of Mac and Michael. "It wasn't very difficult, I just followed an older established working model that Mr. Tang had already started and instilled in you."

“Your psyche profiles were nearly perfect, indicating that Victor was a good match. Together, you’d create a balance, establish a good partnership. It worked—for a time,” pausing, the Director shrugged before she continued, “Until you started to walk closer to the edge. Taking unnecessary chances. That's when I decided to release Mac and bring him into the dynamic. They’re almost polar opposites: Victor levelheaded, responsible, and dedicated to the mission. Then there’s Mac: even in prison he stayed loyal and coolheaded. He’s daring, if not a bit reckless. One’s yin to the other’s yang and you act as their balance—wouldn’t you agree?”

LiAnn closed her eyes, purposely halting her breath for a moment. When she resumed, she opened up to slow, even, deep breaths through her nose—early lessons in control that father had originally taught her – as she tried to control the anger that flooded her. She had always suspected the Director knew about Mac, knew he was alive and stuck in prison—available any time she wanted him, and not before. Now to be confronted with that truth was bittersweet; it was just another crack in the facade, revealing exactly what kind of agency she had joined.

With each exhale, she forced a calm that she didn’t really feel, hiding her true feelings. She shrugged like it didn’t matter and asked, “What difference does it make now?”

"None, but I can’t deny that I enjoy cracking that Tang armor of yours.” The Director smiled, “ It’s just one of the perks of the job. Now lets get back to the subject at hand— your disregard and slow destruction of my top teams."

"Destruction? What the hell are you talking about?" she demanded undaunted between controlled breaths, an attempt to shield the full scale of her emotions. For once she completely agreed with Mac and his assessment of the Director: her sting was far worse on the receiving end then it was as an observer.

"Tsk tsk tsk, think about it? What do you think those boys have in common, hmmm?" She didn't wait for a reply, "You. And you have those boys nipping at your heels hoping to get your attention. Normally I wouldn't mind. In fact, I’d approve, but you lack control. You’ve got ‘em wound up so tight that they’re making mistakes, endangering each other," She leaned forward, "And, more importantly, endangering the mission."

Pulling back, the Director straightened. "As of right now, playtime is over. It’s time to clean up your mess. Chose one of them, or I'll chose for you. You have until Monday to get this settled." Suddenly she paused, her glare almost deadly. "If you make me clean your mess, I promise…” her voice hitched lower, “each of you reassignments and relocation. I hope I’ve made myself crystal clear."

Distractedly the Director clicked the screen off as she gathered her things to head for the door. Barely pausing in her steps she called out, "And LiAnn? I will be watching." Without another word she left.

LiAnn slumped in her seat as she heard the Director's words echo in her mind, Chose one, or I'll chose for you.

Anger and fear collided. How the hell was she going to choose? If she had a God damn answer, she would have decided long ago. In her heart of hearts, that was the problem: she loved them both. Each offered different aspects that she craved. The Director’s ultimatum to choose one, or loose both was giving her a headache.

No answer was forthcoming, only a certainty that she couldn’t choose between them.

The room’s deafening silence mocked her, stretching the taut tension of indecision. A decision, a choice that seemed impossible. Father’s voice whispered in her ear, what you think impossible only shows the limits of your mind.

Was she doing that? Putting limits on herself? Was the impossible, possible? Or did she really have one more choice? Was the impossible merely improbable? Might they agree that all three of them could be happy together, or at the very least sexually satisfied? Or would it be better for all three of them to be alone and miserable?

LiAnn sat there calculating different scenarios and various probabilities, heavily weighing the probable outcomes. Suddenly she stood, decision made. In the end, it only took a matter of five minutes to decide her future.

~*~*~

Once the decision was made, LiAnn didn’t waste any time. Before she even reached the elevator she was leaving a message on Mac’s cell. She didn’t even bother to hide the fear and urgency in her voice, even though she knew Mac would pick up it, she just demanded that he get his ass over to Victor’s as soon as he got this and hung up.

Next she called Victor. As she suspected, he picked up. “Hello…LiAnn?” Hearing his voice, her steps faltered, her throat constricted and she paused mid stride. “LiAnn, are you ok?” His concern was plain and unmistakable. Doubt flooded her. Could she do this?

“LiAnn? I’m on my way. I’ll get the agency to trace…”

She didn’t allow him to finish, blurting out “No.”

Forcibly, she took a deep breath. The hesitation in his voice was clear when he continued, “All right, you want to tell me what the hell is going on? Are you ok?”

She didn’t want to lie - she was far from ok - but in regards to what Victor was asking, she was fine - at least physically. “No, no I’m fine.”

“Ok that still doesn’t tell me what the hell is going on?”

Unable to stop herself, she glanced up. Though she couldn’t see them, she knew there were at least three or four cameras watching her every move. That the Director would keep her promise—I will be watching.

Another deep breath, and she forced herself to move. “I’m coming over and will explain when I get there. And Victor? Mac’s on his way.”

His response was a disgruntled grunt, an uncommitted snort of laughter, or something in-between. “Is this my only warning?”

She sighed immediately knowing where he was jumping to, and for once he wasn’t entirely wrong. “Please… We need to talk, ok? I should be there in twenty.”

She heard him mumble something then add, “Yeah, yeah I’ll be here.”

~*~*~

It didn’t take long before she was there standing in front of Victor’s door. Instead of ringing the bell, she just stood there, her doubt tangible.

Optimistic hope was Mac or Victor’s strong suit, not hers. She looked at and believed in facts, was precise, calculated all the angles. She could play a role for the job, but this, this wasn’t a job—it was her life. Was she being too selfish? She could choose one, not force this insane option of having them both. They’d stay a team though, and she’d be forced to watch the other—watch him have to accept it and eventually move on. Something she knew they would do, just as she knew they’d accept whatever her decision would be in choosing between them. No, this wasn’t about them, it was about her. She knew she wouldn’t be able to just watch while either of them moved on or to keep her distance. There was no doubt she was selfish one.

Her mind screamed, Then why not try the improbable? It was a gamble, a fanciful wish. The reality was that it wasn’t something she really believed could actually happen, but her mind refused to not put the option on the table. Mac might accept the option, but she felt fairly certain Victor wouldn’t. Whatever they decide, they’d do it as a group.

She wasn’t sure how long she stood there before Victor opened the door and ushered her inside. She traded staring at his door for staring out his window, lost in thought and waiting for Mac to arrive.

Vic came up behind her, gently caressing her shoulders pulling her back against him, offering his support. It took only a minute before she accepted it and melted back into his embrace.

The silence stretched before his patience finally broke, “You want to tell me?”

Unable to answer she just shook her head, no.

“You decided?”

She didn’t answer, only stiffened in his arms.

Automatically his hands continued to caress her shoulders, trying to ease her ridged form.

He’d been waiting anxiously ever since Mac came back, had hoped he’d feel relief if nothing else when she finally made her decision. Instead, he nervously he bit the inside of his cheek, almost drawing blood before forcing himself to speak. “It’s ok, it’ll be ok.”

She shook her head in respond then choked out, “No, no it won’t. This afternoon, I saw the Director.”

Confused he asked, “What?” His fingers tightened on her shoulders, knowing instinctively that, since it involved the Director, whatever it was would be bad. "What happened?” He felt LiAnn’s body shudder beneath his fingers and his anxiety rose. The possibilities to make LiAnn this upset flitted crossed his mind, and he nearly whispered, “Something happen to Mac?"

LiAnn stilled and turned within his arms, looking straight into his eyes; his worry was palpable. Suddenly she smiled, relieved that if nothing else, Victor actually did care for Mac, if only as a partner. She already knew that, but it was nice to have it confirmed. Tentatively she reached out and brushed his hair back. His bangs were slightly longer than his usual cut. She liked it.

Slowly shook her head. “No, he’s fine. He should be here soon.”

“Then what the hell did the Director want? Tell me, what’s wrong?”

“She…" Reluctantly she pulled away, her body tense. "She's given me until Monday to decide between you and Mac, or she'll decide by relocating each of us."

Victor stood there for several seconds, blinking. “What? You’re not serious?” The look on her face made him immediately reject that idea. “She can't do that.”

Absently, she nodded as she crossed her arms over her chest. “She can and she will.”

He wasn’t sure in what direction LiAnn wanted to go, or if they should actually be talking about this here at all. "What do you want to do?" Vic asked, slightly distracted as he glanced around the room before figuring that it was too late to find and deactivate any agency bugs.

"I made a decision." LiAnn stated.

Turning around he faced LiAnn. "Oh" then lowered his eyes, afraid he’d find the answer in her eyes, afraid she’d picked her first love, Mac. He glanced into the kitchen then moved toward it with purpose. He’d started dinner earlier; something he’d started to replace his pacing while he waited for LiAnn and Mac to show up.

LiAnn followed, grabbing his arm and plunging ahead, "I decided to go with what I knew all along. That I love you both."

Clearly confused, Victor’s head jerked, "Huh?" trying to make sense of what she just said.

Seconds turned into minutes and he still had nothing. Then it finally dawned on him, "Oh, I get it. You want me to choose for you."

Flatly she stated, “No. No, that's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying I want you both."

He just stared, his jaw dropping as he processed what she just suggested. It took him more than a moment to respond, his eyes narrowed, "Wait a minute you want me to share you with Mac?"

"Yes.” She quickly realized what Victor was thinking and added, “No. What I mean is, I love you both. I can't decide between you, and I don't want to live without either of you."

Vic started shaking his head, "LiAnn, it'd never work. We're both too possessive. Can't you just see the arguments coming: who has what night? Not to mention that's an awful place to put you in, bouncing between us. You deserve better. And, no offence, but even Mac and I deserve better. If this is just a way to get me to decide for you, then fine." After taking a couple of deep breaths, he let out a small, sarcastic laugh. It trailed off as he continued, "Really, LiAnn, I'm not trying to be all noble or anything, and I do love you, but I love you enough to step aside." He sighed, "Enough to let you have a complete relationship, even if that happens to be with Mac. At least I know he loves you." Victor turned away, busing himself with dinner, unable to face her anymore.

LiAnn gripped his shirt, halting him, "Victor stop it! I didn’t come here for that. I don't want a damn white knight. I want you. Don't ever think differently. Please, hear me out?"

Unable to refuse her, he nodded and turned around.

LiAnn’s hand trailed down and she clasped his hand with hers and pulled him toward the couch. Her hand squeezed his, afraid to let him go; she intertwined her fingers with his.

Taking a deep breath, Victor tried to re-center himself, "Alright…" Licking his lips, Victor swallowed then leaned forward, "Don’t think of the Director—tell me honestly… Who do you really want to share your life with?"

LiAnn looked up, and for the first time, she noticed how tired Victor was. This is what she's done to him, leaving him straddling the fence of insecurity. After staring intently for several minutes, she declared, "I want you both." He started to pull away, but she refused to let him go. "No, hear me out."

"LiAnn, what you're asking isn't fair. I..." Victor shook his head, already believing he'd lost her.

"Victor, please listen. You're right; I am asking the impossible, something I never would have considered before. But now, I know if I don’t do what the Director ordered... It’s true I’m selfish. I can’t, I just can't choose to loose either of you.”

Her voice trembled, reaching out, she grasped his other hand, afraid to let him go as she spoke. “I did that once, I can’t do that again. Not you, not Mac.”

Staring into her eyes he knew she was dead serious. This wasn’t some stupid game the Director had dictated. But this, what LiAnn was suggesting, wasn’t in his make-up. He was more traditional, wanted too much to have something this special only part-time. "LiAnn… I… I don't know what to say. I'm just not made that way. I love you—you know that. I love with my heart, mind and soul, and I'm exactly what Mac calls me, an ‘old fart'. I want the commitment; I want to wake up with you in my arms every morning. I want to argue about going to a gallery opening. I want sweaty Saturday morning workouts and over-indulgent pastries in bed on Sundays while reading the paper. I'm sorry I won't… I can't do a part-time arrangement."

Biting her lip, LiAnn concentrated and shut off her brain forcing herself not to think, because if she did, if she paused to think about it any further, she’d run and wouldn’t stop until it was too late. After taking a needed breath, she pushed on. "I'm not asking you to. At least not the part-time part. Victor, what I'm asking is that we, all of us together… that the three of us have a relationship. That we do everything you want and more, but…but with Mac right there too."

Internally she diagnosed Victor’s shock. He just stared, then blinked rapidly before stilling, staring blankly with a ridiculous expression as his mouth hung open. Finally, Vic shook his head and laughed, "For a minute I thought you said----"

She nodded. "I did."

"What the hell do you mean by together?" Victor squeaked out.

"Exactly what I said. Together, as in the three of us, sharing a very intimate relationship." She watched Vic as he forcibly pulled away and stood up. Nearly running to the sink, he turned on the tap and filled a glass of water, drinking it down quickly.

Ignoring his shock, she stood and followed him, needing to get it out so they could really talk about it, "It’s the only way. Sharing a relationship, one place, and one bed. The three of us, together."

Victor couldn't stop the blush that crept up over his face. "The only way? LiAnn ... I…" He started laughing nervously. "What in the world ever made you even think of that?” Turning around, he glared, leaning against the counter, as he demanded, “You think our possessiveness will go away because we share the same bed. That'd be the ultimate competition with you in the middle." Shaking his head, his voice got cold, "I never would have thought you could be so greedy, or that you'd want us to be your matching lap dogs."

Pissed, he brushed pass her, leaving the kitchen in a huff. Deciding what he really needed was a drink, something a hell of a lot stronger than water.

She immediately reacted, following him, furious that he thought so little of her as to think she’d actually ask that of him. "Victor Benjamin Mansfield, that’s not what I want, or what I'm asking!"

Without stopping. He poured himself a shot of JD and downed it before pouring another, barely registering the burn as it went down. "Then please enlighten me! Just what the hell are you asking, LiAnn? Surely you don't expect Mac and I….." Suddenly he stopped, glancing down at the glass halfway to his lips before turning toward LiAnn, “You’re not serious?” It was clear she was thinking just that. Automatically he downed the shot. "Why would you… right, the Director.”

“Yes, she’s forcing it, but it doesn’t change why I can’t choose between you. Why should I, when we could have each other.”

Victor shook his head, his hand still anchored on the bottle of JD. “We couldn't... I mean we could, but I haven't, and I don't think Mac has.... This is crazy, and ridiculous..." shaking his head in shock, "What made you ever think we... “ He could barely get it out, “that we would with each other?"

Treading closer, afraid he’d bolt, she carefully moved into his space and reached down clasping his hand with hers. Without dropping her gaze, she said in a soft, clear voice, "Don't forget, I've been with both of you." She felt Victor pull back, about to object, but he had nowhere to go. She hushed him, putting a finger over his mouth, so she could finish. “I know you haven't, but you do have some experience - curiosity and enjoyment."

"That, ...that was years ago. Just…”

“A few years, you weren’t a kid.”

Blushing he stammered, “No. I was on the job; I had too, to keep my cover."

"Okay yes, but that didn't change that you wanted more. That you fantasize about it, even now."

Shocked, he couldn’t help the feelings of betrayal; shocked she would use something so private against him. "That was... is between you and me. I never... I never acted on it any further, and you know it."

LiAnn flushed and sighed, "I know. It’s not about that. I’m not—I didn’t think about this until the Director pushed the issue. I don’t want to be on another team, to wake up and find you and Mac gone—maybe in different countries. To never see you or Mac again. You know she’ll make good her threat. You know the agency, and you know what they do. For me, it comes down to— all or nothing. The ridiculous wishful thought that maybe we could have it all, by taking a chance.”

She took another deep breath, “I know he annoys you. I also know you trust him with your life and to watch your back. Are you really going to try and tell me don't find him attractive, even a little bit?"

He couldn't think of anything to say. "I… I..." It was true he did trust Mac, maybe not in his kitchen, but with his life? Yes, if he was honest with himself. It was hard earned, but Mac had earned it. Together, the three of them made a good team. He doesn’t like to think about it, but he does remember what it was like back then, before they were a team.

But could he do that, could he be with Mac? Was he even attracted to Mac? Maybe, if he could ever get past all the shit Mac does just to annoy him; Mac seemed to have special flare for irritating the hell out of him. Though if he stopped visualizing strangling the man… as soon as he thought crossed his mind, Victor closed his eyes. He imagined focusing his gaze on Mac’s full lips, imagined kissing, tasting Mac, and the feel of Mac’s lips, imagined Mac kissing him, his lips wrapping around… Snapping his eyes open, Victor tried to deal with the shock of how easy it was to visualize.

LiAnn bit her inner cheek to keep from smiling, having a small inkling of what Victor was thinking about it. Her own face heated, as she thought of the two of them together. They were wonderful lovers. Each different enough that she could see how they would compliment the other.

Victor interpreted, stating flatly. "It won't work. You’re forgetting Mac. Who I doubt he’s even slightly bent. Not with all the constant bragging about his conquests— all of the female variety.”

“Never heard of over compensating?”

Victor couldn’t stop the chuckle “Mac?” He leaned over and shook his head because even if he wanted to believe that, he couldn’t. “Ok even so what about our friendship—what we’d be doing - it’s not exactly a typical kind of relationship, one you can bring home to mom and dad.”

Nodding, LiAnn licked her lips; between them Victor was the only one who had any family. Bowing her head, she considered her next words. “Our jobs aren’t exactly typical - no company picnics.”

“No, no family picnics.” Warily, Victor walked over to the window and stared out; he cupped and rubbed the back of his neck in frustration. Though he never heard her move, he knew LiAnn came to stand behind him. Quietly he asked, “You sure this is what you want?”

In answer, she pressed herself against his back, her head resting on his shoulder. “I’m sure I want you and Mac in my life for the rest of my life. If we can do that without having to run for our lives for the rest of our lives, then yes, it’s what I want.”

That was it, the real choice: run for their lives or make adjustments. Victor slowly turned around, easing a bit of space between them. “You’re sure?”

She didn’t nod, instead dropping her mask and staring into his eyes, offering everything that was in her heart. Gently, his hand cupped her neck and jaw, tilting her head back. He moved until their foreheads touched and he was breathing her air.

Unconsciously he nodded, his voice gruff as he whispered, “Okay, we’ll do this.” His thumb trailed across her bottom lip.

Neither heard the door open, only when it slammed shut. They both jerked apart, looking up to see Mac standing there.

“Is this why you called? You two back together?”

“Shit!” Victor cursed under his breath.

LiAnn pulled away, moving toward Mac. “Mac?”

Briefly, Mac met LiAnn’s eyes then glanced away. A false smile firmly in place, Mac shook his head as he moved, hand waving in dismissal. “Naw, don’t worry about it, it’s all good. Obviously, he’s the sentimental favorite, if not the better choice. I mean, no offence old man, but hey,” he paused turning toward Victor, his hand swept down his chest, “anyone up against this beauty usually isn’t.” Mac shrugged grinning a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “Took me a while, but for an old man, you’re a good guy, Victor.”

“Gee thanks.”

Mac grinned, then made his way over to the bar. Browsing through various bottles, he couldn’t find any Champaign. He snagged a good bottle of wine instead; they’d have to make do. He proceeded to unravel the wrapper and pop the cork. “So what? You called me here to celebrate?” Suddenly he pounded his chest, “Get my blessing? Just one big happy family, right?” The jovial tone was marred by heavy sarcasm.

Victor’s lips thinned, gnashing his teeth together, he glimpsed over his shoulder to LiAnn. “You better start talking before he bolts out of here.” Holding up his hands, he waved her off before she even asked, “Not a conversation I’m starting—at least not this sober.”

LiAnn glared at Victor then over to Mac, her look softening as she looked past all of Mac’s defenses. Victor was right, there was no in point putting it off, but she seemed to have lost her voice. “Mac…”

Mac glanced over his shoulder then turned back to pour her a glass of wine. Loud enough so she would have to strain, he spoke. “It’s fine, really. I’m already over it. I should have guessed. I mean you guys were engaged, if I hadn’t come back you two would already be married.” He offered her a glass, pausing, his smile sincere, before he turned to offer Victor his glass. “So come, on let’s celebrate. A toast, to the happy couple…”

Wondering just when and how she’d lost control of the situation, LiAnn shook off her hesitation, focused and forced the words out, “I saw the Director today. She made it clear I had to choose between you, or that she would.”

“Oh, okay. We just won’t let that mar your celebration.” Mac noticed as Victor put his wine glass down, picked up and quickly downed a shot glass that had been sitting there, already poured. A moment later he noticed the opened bottle of JD that had to have been sitting there already when he was pouring the wine. Titling his head toward Victor, Mac looked from one partner to the other, taking in their awkward silence. “This is a celebration, right? You made a choice, didn’t you?”

Suddenly terrified and completely unsure of Mac’s reaction, LiAnn nodded, “Yes.”

Victor snapped, “Christ, LiAnn, don’t drag it out, just tell him.”

“I’m trying.” She snapped back.

“Try harder.” Victor demanded right back at her.

Mac just stood there in the middle, confused as hell, realizing that everything he thought he had walked in on was completely wrong.

“Fine, I decide on both of you—I want you both! Satisfied?”

She glared angrily at Victor, but quickly lost her anger as she heard Mac gasp “What?” She turned to face him as the jovial façade he had in place cracked. Suddenly, Victor was there, taking Mac’s wine glass and replacing it with a shot glass. Without a word Mac downed it, holding it back out to be refilled. He looked at LiAnn earnestly, “Ah go back and repeat that. This time, with a little more detail?”

LiAnn swallowed, “This morning the Director called me in. Ordered me to make a choice, to choose between you. Told me that my indecision was affecting our team dynamic. She gave me until Monday to make a decision, or she’ll make it for me. That included relocation for each of us and to be reassigned to new teams.” Pausing for a moment, she caught Victor’s eye from under her lashes, and waited.

She didn’t have long to wait. Almost hesitantly, he asked, “She said between us?”

LiAnn nodded, and continued on, “I couldn’t decide before, and I refuse to decide now, because I want you both. I always have. I never would have considered this a viable option, but she’s forcing the issue.” Pausing for a second, she silently pleaded for Victor to somehow understand. Nervously, she swallowed. “Though she’s forced it, this isn’t a whim. I simply can’t let go of either of you, and I'm not willing to just walk away without trying…” Her voice faltered as she looked up into first Victor’s face and then Mac’s.

Numb with confusion, Mac didn’t even try to shield his feelings. “And this is what you came up with? Us sharing you?”

It wasn’t funny, but that didn’t stop Victor from bursting out with laughter.

Mac glared at him, but Victor didn’t stop, only doubled over and started laughing harder. Mac pointed, waving his finger between them, “What, is this a fucking joke?”

Mac’s conclusion was understandable, but she’s just been over this with Victor and his reaction stung. Feeling aggravated and annoyed, she frowned and wrapped her arms across her chest to keep herself from reaching over and smacking him. Instead she glared at Victor as she answered Mac, her icy voice reflecting those feelings and the direness of the situation. “No, not a joke. Though I’m sure she’s laughing her ass off right about now.”

Silence followed and Victor seemed to sober up. They were all highly aware of the tactics the agency used to keep close tabs on all of their operatives. At least once a week, Victor had made a routine habit of checking for cameras and disabling them if needed. Out of laziness, because the agency replaced them as quickly as he removed them, he had long ago stopped removing the audio devices. After he began allowing the audio to stay in place and unhindered, he noticed the cameras weren’t necessarily always fixed each week - leading him to believe he had a silent truce with the Director. Though right now, he’d bet every cent he had that each camera had been upgraded and was in fine working order.

Victor couldn’t help but grimace at the ridiculous, harsh reality of their situation. Glancing at his partners it appeared they were in equal agreement.

Long moments passed and the silence stretched until Mac broke through the quiet. “So, not a joke.” he stated flatly, then asked, “And you agreed to this, to sharing her?” Mac didn’t wait for Victor to respond, but stepped forward and grabbed the bottle of JD that Victor was still holding. “Gotta say, that’s very progressive of you—never would have thought you had it in you.” Not bothering with the shot glass, Mac just tipped the bottle up and took a long swig, then used his sleeve to wipe his mouth.

Victor wanted to make some snarky reply, but could only swallow, pressing his lips together to keep from laughing outright in Mac’s face - especially as he imagined the look on Mac’s face when he realized exactly what kind of relationship LiAnn was really after. With a sideway glance, he looked at his former fiancée. He took in her defensive stance, the not-so-subtle way her fingers pulled on her arms, tightening the hold, and suddenly realized just how scared she was.

It was understandable; they all had a right to be scared. Not once did he doubt that the Director would make good on her threat, but LiAnn and Mac had even more to lose then he did—even within the Tangs they had only had each other. He remembered LiAnn back then, and how deeply she’d grieved for Mac, even long after they had gotten together. He remembered holding her through the night. Of how despondent she’d been, silently crying, whispering Mac’s name in her sleep… no, he remembered. Belatedly he realized that this, all of this, had to be killing her inside.

Mac broke the silence, “Seriously, you want us to share you?” shaking his head, he chuckled, “Come on, LiAnn, even for us that’s weird, if not downright kinky.”

Victor snorted, “You don’t know the half of it.”

“There’s more?” He turned to LiAnn, “Maybe I should sit down?”

Victor glanced at LiAnn; she still didn’t move. Sighing, he moved into Mac’s space, deciding lay it all on the line by taking action - hopefully bypassing both LiAnn’s silence and the last of Mac’s confusion.

Mac tried to step back as he leaned in. Victor reached out and steadied Mac, anchoring his hands on Mac’s hips, and leaned in further, his mouth hovering over Mac’s lips, barely touching. On impulse, one hand slid up and behind Mac’s back, settling there, pulling his body closer.

Instinctively his eyes fluttered closed, and Mac’s startled face was the last thing he saw before his lips touched Mac’s.

Initially it was a closed kiss. No more intimate than if he had been kissing his sister.

Quickly Victor mentally shook that image off and focused on exactly who he was kissing, on how Mac had done nothing more than stand there. It wasn’t exactly a good sign, but, then again, Mac hadn’t hauled off and hit him either, as most men tend to do with an unwanted— male—pass.

With their lips still closed, the kiss was stiff until Victor pushed it, opening his mouth a bit more. The tip of his tongue eased out and licked along Mac’s bottom lip, slicking it wet. His teeth nibbled on the fullness of it, then slowly pulled Mac’s lip into his mouth sucking it in between his own lips.

Victor felt and tasted Mac’s gasp of air more than he could hear it over his own thundering heart. With the gasp, Mac unconsciously opened his mouth, allowing Victor to press his advantage. He didn’t think, he just plunged forward, ignoring the bittersweet taste of JD, and took what Mac passively offered.

His tongue pushed further and searched for the true taste that was Mac. With each lick, he tasted, Victor wanted more.

Long seconds passed before Mac’s apprehension altered. Victor immediately felt the change where Mac slightly dropped and tilted his head, giving Victor a better angle. Mac opened his lips further, accepting, not just with his mouth either, but with his entire body, which uncoiled within Victor’s arms.

Now Mac’s body was tensed for another reason as he pressed intimately against Victor. An intimate, sweeping caress of Mac’s tongue explored and danced inside his mouth. The change was explosive. Mac’s kisses were hotter, wet and sloppy as his tongue thoroughly investigated Victor’s mouth, blindly counting each tooth and molar.

Almost in a seductive tease, Mac drew him in further, his tongue circling and caressing Victor’s tongue. Lips held, pulled, and encase his tongue, then started to suck hard until his head was swimming in heady need.

He answered by pulling Mac even closer, though there was nowhere to go. They could only press and slide against each other, breathing in the other’s lustful heat.

Victor felt a shift, the expanse of Mac’s hand over his shoulder spread out, cradling the crook of his neck. His fingers clasped, curled and held him. The grip was solid, his fingers soft and delicate as they drifted down over corded muscles in his neck. His thumb spread out and upward, caressing over his jugular, then stroked a path upward.

Mac swallowed each panted breath, maneuvered to lick, nibble and bite his way across Victor’s lips.

Suddenly, Mac was bodily pulling back just as he was pushing Victor away.

Once Mac let go they just stood there, staring at each other.

Victor didn’t even bother to hide his want and slowly licked over his bottom lip; savoring Mac’s taste; he wanted more. Clearly a lot more than Mac was willing to give at the moment, he thought, as he stared at Mac’s lost and wide-eyed look. Victor swallowed, trying unsuccessfully to shake his want. Staring at Mac’s wet swollen lips didn’t help.

The silence amplified. He wanted to reassure Mac that everything was ok, but at the moment he was feeling just as lost. His feelings of want shocked him. LiAnn was right; he’d had feelings and desires for men before, but he didn’t expect the extent of this need, or that Mac would ignite such passion in him.

Victor heard the movement before he actually saw it from his peripheral vision, only turning as he felt LiAnn’s hand slide around his waist. Looking down, his breath caught when he saw LiAnn at his side. She pressed her lips together, then rolled them into a thin line as she fought to control her breathing. She only had eyes for Mac, but he remembered the look she had now—a clear state of arousal.

It never worked, but he enjoyed the effect.

Her hand twined around his waist, pressing herself closer, anchoring her body to his side. Her nostrils flared, her teeth raked over her bottom lip, only to be pressed tighter—slowly loosing control.

Memory had him inhaling, knowing he’d be able to smell the extent of her arousal. Like his erection, it was something she could never hide.

Lost in the scent, he wasn’t even aware that Mac moved until he was in their space.

Mac reached out, cradling LiAnn’s head. His hands cupped around her face, holding her in place. Victor couldn’t decide if Mac was actually trying to create some privacy this close—which was ridiculous - or if he was just adding to the intimacy that was already there.

His hands framed her face, fingers dipping into her hair, guiding her toward him even as he leaned down.

Victor held his breath as he realized Mac was probably going to kiss her, and for everything they talked about, they really hadn’t discussed this aspect. He was too caught up in the thought of Mac and him being together, rather than the fact he’d have to watch LiAnn and Mac together. And he honestly couldn’t expect Mac not to, to only be with him, to watch him with LiAnn—No, that’d be unreasonable, hypocritical, but even as those thoughts raced through his mind, he dismissed them as soon as he saw Mac hovering over LiAnn’s lips. His heart pounded—in anticipation.

Stilling, Mac licked his lips and asked, “Are you sure? You really want this, the three of us?”

Though Mac’s voice was low, it carried enough that Victor didn’t strain to hear him.

They didn’t have long to wait. LiAnn swallowed audibly, trying to catch her breath, automatically nodding, before answering, “Yes. Yes! I can’t choose, Mac. Don’t make me…”

Victor couldn’t see her eyes, but could hear the quiver in her voice, could hear LiAnn’s control shattering as she added, “You’re my family—Please, I… I can’t loose either of you. I can’t do that again.”

Victor’s heart ached over LiAnn’s words, each word resonating with her pain.

Silence stretched and Mac still didn’t say anything, but Victor knew that Mac wouldn’t be unaffected—not by LiAnn’s words and voice that had to be mirrored in her eyes. Eyes Mac was staring directly at.

Mac answered by closing the distance between them and sweeping LiAnn’s face up into a deep, devouring kiss.

Victor’s stomach unclenched, slightly surprised as his arousal spiked. He zeroed in on the smacking noises as LiAnn returned Mac’s fevered kiss. He started to inch away; needed room to see, realizing he wanted to watch them, then take his turn kissing each of them in return.

Mac’s fist grabbed his shirt, halting him as he slowly pulled away from LiAnn, eyes still closed, as he demanded, “Don’t.” He stopped. Mac’s fist gathered more fabric as he opened his eyes to stare into Victor’s eyes. His voice was coarse, breathless. “You, you want this?”

Victor swallowed hard. On the surface the question was simple, but Mac’s eyes held the true depth of the question— a reflection of what Mac had seen reflected in LiAnn’s eyes. Suddenly he realized that whatever this was, that was going on between them that it was going to be more than the Director’s order, the sex, their compatibility friendship, or even their partnership as teammates—so much more.

He didn’t expect it. He hadn’t considered it, but that didn’t stop him from wanting it —wanting it all, and everything that would entail.

The answer was simple. “Yes,” his voice was scratchy, and he cleared it before whispering again as he leaned forward, “Yes, yes….” letting Mac swallow his last yes.

*~*~*~

The Director clicked off the screen, then ordered. “Scale down, but keep a core team to maintain surveillance. Audio only.”

The operator nodded and asked, “Camera’s?”

She glanced at the blank screen she’d just shut off, barely shaking her head. She smiled as she walked out the door, “Next time.”

FiN~~

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