There aren’t many ways for a single mage to gain the power to combat an entire guild of criminal sorcerers. Making a pact with a demon will put Jack permanently on society’s list of magical enemies. One of the ones he hunted.
It’s worth it.
Explicit sex and violence, reaper76, grief, self-mutilation, black magic, demon deals, monster sex, Gabriel is kind of dead (he’ll be fine eventually)
Also on AO3: https://archiveofourown.org/works/21102467
Mages in law enforcement don’t have it easy. When a monster surfaces to prey on the neighborhood, it’s always the mages who’re on the front lines of the battle. They hunt, investigate and fight vampires, lycanthropes, body-snatchers, ghosts, fae and every other sort of spook that likes to turn humans into a source of food, profit or entertainment.
Monsters have their organized crime too. It doesn’t get much worse than a guild of unsanctioned necromancers. In the line of duty, Jack tangled with the necromancer guild called Talon. In revenge, they tore his life apart.
Their undead puppets held him down while he watched the sorcerers put everyone he loved in the ground—or worse, turn them into ‘resources.’ The fucking liches soul-jarred his husband and turned his best friend’s body into a nearly-mindless ghoul. And then they left him alive—at least Jack supposed you could call it that, if you felt generous—to contemplate the consequences of crossing them.
It’s been months since then, but he still sees it all again every time he closes his eyes. He’s had the full workup—the therapy, the drugs, the hypnosis the healing spells and mind magics that are supposed to prevent PTSD—but all the head-shrinking and trauma recovery in the world don’t do shit for the sheer horrified rage that pulses in Jack’s lungs with every breath he takes, or the utter inability—utter lack of desire—to forgive those sons of bitches.
They’re out there, doing what they did to him and his to a hundred other poor innocent souls, and he’s been on leave so long he’s not sure anymore whether they ever intend to take him back while the precinct’s ‘investigation’ moves forward. Or doesn’t, really, because what the fuck is there to investigate? He knows who did it. He was there. The department doesn’t need an investigation; it needs a war. And if it’s too afraid to bring one, then Jack will.
Jack has. Tonight, he seals the deal.
He taps the blade of his knife against his thigh as he looks over the elaborate circle laid out on the floor of his workshop. It’s marked out in a dried paste of silver, blood and bone powder. Ritual components better left unnamed—if the precinct knew about those, he’d never work as a cop again—burn around the perimeter, casting a low, flickering light around the room and strange smells into the air. The curving line of the circle might as well be the edge of a cliff. Once he steps across it, there’ll be no coming back from what will happen after.
His shrink would probably tell him he’s not in his right mind. Maybe she’s right, but if it mattered then he wouldn’t be here. He’s been over this in his head a thousand times, weighing his grief and guilt against the ‘reasonable thing’, and the bottom line is that objectively Talon needs to be stopped. Objectively, he needs to rescue whatever is left of his loved ones from the clutches of those walking nightmares, no matter what it takes.
He steps into the circle.
There aren’t many ways for a single mage to gain the power to combat an entire guild of criminal sorcerers. Making a pact with a demon will put him permanently on society’s list of magical enemies. One of the ones he hunted. He sets the point of the knife to his chest, closes his eyes, takes one deep breath, and pushes.
As the blade sinks into his heart, he feels himself split apart along with his flesh. One part of him screams to stop it. The rest of him keeps right on going, and it feels like he’s crossing a boundary into another reality; an alternate world where he’s a man who would do things like drive a knife into his own heart.
Or maybe just a world where he’s dying, because the pain is a line of fire ripping him down the middle, and he’s been stabbed before in the line of duty, but this hurts, it hurts, opening inside him like an abyss and dragging him down, blood flowing like hot darkness into the hole. Or the other way around, the world cracking open along his seams for the darkness outside reality to pour in.
It pours out, too, along the inner edges of the circle, liquid black seeping from the lines and across the ground until the interior of the circle is coated with it. It bumps up against his boots like rising water, until the ripples begin to stretch and elongate, becoming tentacles that reach up to wrap around his ankles and slide up his legs with a coy, almost smug languidness.
He thinks he’s imagining the attitude at first; maybe the pain and shock are making him loopy. But the demon comes slicking across his mind the same as it’s crawling up his body, hot and squirming. Its touch nuzzles at his thoughts, dipping into them for little tastes of him, testing his character. Feeling me up, Jack thinks giddily. Examining the merchandise.
It seems to like what it finds, because it spills across his soul where it’s pinned open and offered up. Across his skin, dipping teasingly into his body.
He’s not going to die, but he’s dying. It hurts more than almost anything he’s ever felt in his life, except for being held down and watching a loved one die. The demon’s probing caresses reach his wound. He gasps, breaking out into an agonized sweat as they begin to work into it. The knife falls to the floor. His hand swings loose. He swoons but doesn’t fall, the demon’s tendrils cradling him.
It takes everything he has to remember the next part and unlock his diaphragm to speak. “I want power,” he says aloud. His voice shreds to inhumanity in a throat tense with pain.
The sound of his words fall without echo into the rising dark, as if he were a hundred miles away from the walls of his workshop. Air whistles through his throat as he manages to suck in enough air to try again. “I want the power to end Talon and free their captives.”
A rough-scaled, clawed hand cups his chin from behind. It radiates heat, not enough to burn but enough to remind him that it could if it wanted. “Quite a task. That won’t happen overnight. Are you committed?” Its voice is less human than Jack’s.
“I’m here, aren’t I?” Jack cast this summoning from inside the circle. There’s no going back now even if he wanted to. He’s already given himself up.
Tendrils curl tighter around him, corded together in the dozens. They pull him to his knees. They’re slick and hot, with the texture of tongues, and his clothes simply dissolve under their touch. The darkness begins to clear, or his eyes begin to adjust, and he sees a man’s shape before him. A familiar shape…and then he sees the face looking back at him, and he lunges against his restraints, going for the demon to tear it off if he has to.
“NO. Not that face! Take it off!”
The demon looks amused. Jack barely manages to get his knees off the ground before he’s pulled back down. His own magic boils into a molten aura of rage around him, but the demon reaches through it with a clawed hand to seize a tight grip on Jack’s hair, and pull him close for a deep kiss. The lips are so familiar. The familiar scent nearly destroys him on the spot, a thousand times worse than being stabbed in the chest.
Power pours into him.
His body tingles and his hair stands on end. It’s everything he’s ever wanted. Every promise. Every vengeance. Every gift he’s ever wanted to give to a deserving recipient. He moans, muffled, into the demon’s mouth and leans in, drinking down the flood of it and shaking with the way it awakens every nerve and cell in him.
He closes his eyes. The part of him that hates himself for this goes a little quieter when he can pretend he isn’t begging for more from the facsimile of his dead husband.
The demon tastes like pure, raw magic ripped from the hearts of stars, from the dark stuff between galaxies, burning and potential and every sensation pouring into him at once. He can feel what the demon wants in his body, searing across his nerves; he can taste it in his mouth, the way it covets him, the way it loves him, the way it cherishes the unique, unspeakable shine of the human soul. The power that’s pouring into him is nothing to it, compared to the one he was born with. The power to love, to create, to imagine, to choose.
Mouths on his nipples and between his legs spark through him in echo, like distant glimmering stars, fingerlike stroking over his skin and seemingly along his bones. Its cock—or something—is deep inside him, thrusting and rippling inside him with its bumps and ridges. He can barely tell the difference between it and the magic pouring through him, dragging across his every sensitive spot, holding him captive in a web of power and sensation that lights him up from within. Maybe there is no difference; after all, what is a demon made of?
And then the demon pulls away. The roaring flow of magic into him fades with it, but it’s still there inside him, churning just beneath the surface, running its fingertips along the underside of his skin. He opens his eyes and it’s not dark anymore. The air around him is glowing. He’s glowing, he realizes, as he follows the source down to his hands. It’s coming from him, his aura so overcharged that it’s visible to the eye.
He isn’t tied down anymore. The dark stuff still strokes and pets over him, but he’s not restrained. The demon reaches out a hand to him. It’s massive, with viciously tipped claws. Jack contemplates it for a moment, then takes it and lets himself be pulled to his feet.
The thing that was inside him pulls away, and Jack stumbles to his feet with a moan. The demon holds him upright, almost courtly, until Jack finds his footing. Then it makes a pleased noise and begins to pace around him as if it’s admiring its work. It’s a thing of fire and shadow, monstrous edges and unnaturally shifting curves paired with achingly familiar human ones.
“When it runs low,” it says at last, its voice an eerie, menacing purr, “I can give you more. All the power you need.” Its hand runs languorously up Jack’s spine from the curve of his ass to the nape of his neck, with vast possessive satisfaction. “And it secures you to me.”
He tips his head back and moans. This doesn’t need to be so sexual, he thinks, but its desire for him is real. In everything it’s poured into him, he can feel how much it wants him, his pleasure and pain and grief and joy and rage and everything else he has to give it.
Vindictive, vicious joy flares up in him at the thought. Oh, he has plenty to give it. As much as it could ever want.
For a moment, it seems to wobble where it stands. Then it steps back around to face him, burning eyes wide in amazement. It lifts his chin with one monstrously long, sharp-clawed finger till he’s forced to meet its eyes. The contempt from earlier is washed away. There’s elation there now, and raw anticipation. Volcanic, hungry red veiled by thick dark eyelashes Jack used to lie awake studying. “Now, one more thing. I need an anchor. Something that will root me in you, and seal the agreement.”
Jack opens his mouth to ask. Then the demon blinks, those long dusky eyelashes sweeping down, and Jack doesn’t need to. His mouth goes dry; he can’t protest before the demon’s tongue is probing into the hole in his chest. He can’t scream.
Memories. Gabriel, blinking slowly at him just like that, the way he would when he was mocking something Jack had just done. Gabriel’s ridiculous grin that made him look like a cat. Jack used to tease him about it because peoples’ mouths don’t do that. Gabriel’s kisses, touches, his scent, the weight of his feet in Jack’s lap, the weight of his body on Jack’s, the feeling of their abs and chests pressing together as they breathed, sweaty and naked. The velvety feeling of his head after he’d shaved it, and the complaining-but-not really noises he’d made when Jack wouldn’t stop trying to touch. His shoulder and thigh pressing companionably against Jack’s whenever they ate out because booths weren’t made for men their size. The memories flow easily, joyously because remembering Gabriel will never not be a joy, no matter how much pain and grief come with it.
Jack staggers and falls against the demon’s chest. Hands that feel resoundingly human catch his arms to hold him steady. He can feel the demon tasting the memories, sharing them, and the visceral, awful, wonderful connection forming between them. The connection of remembering someone beloved with another person who knew them just as well.
Familiar lips on his again, and this time he kisses back. Lets Gabriel push him back and down, push a knee between his legs to part his thighs. Jack sighs and holds tight as Gabriel enters him, holds him in place with a hand on the back of his neck as he kisses Jack’s nipples and bites his throat, grabs Gabriel’s ass to encourage him to go faster, harder…
He knows as he comes, who it is and who it isn’t. He can’t decide whether he’s grateful for the moment, or angry.
But the room is surrounding them again. The normal lights of the city night are flickering through the window blinds.
And the demon who looks like a man now, his dark skin bronze in the room’s low firelight, reaches out a human-looking hand to Jack and helps him up.
“Not that body,” Jack begs again. He presses his hands to his face, like he can push the world back into its proper place in his brain.
The demon shrugs. “Can’t be helped. I need to look like someone to get around in your world. And this is the one your soul cries out for.” He licks his lips. His teeth are sharp. “Now come on. That was just the first of many feasts for you and I.”
Jack narrows his eyes at…him…then spins and marches out to his bedroom to grab a bathrobe. His body still wants. His soul still wants. He’s well and truly bound to this creature, and he did it deliberately, of his own free choice, and he knew it was going to be a bitch about it no matter how well they saw eye to eye because it’s a demon.
He’s not sorry. He’s just pissed.
The demon follows him, just as naked as he is, gorgeous as Gabriel ever was. Even his facial hair is perfect, after everything they just did. Gabriel always did have a knack for looking gratuitously well-groomed. Jack wraps the robe around himself and pulls the belt tight as he watches…him…drag open a dresser drawer and help himself to Jack’s clothes. Which fit fine, because he and Gabe only ever had a couple inches of measurements’ difference every which way.
“What’m I going to call you?” Jack growls at his back. “If you say ‘Gabriel’ I’m gonna summon an angel next and fucking blitz you where you stand.”
The demon tips forward, then braces with both hands against the top of the dresser and guffaws. “I would love to see you try that. Honestly.” He zips up his jeans and looks back at Jack. “Call me Reaper. Think of it as a promise.”
Jack thinks he can live with that.