Don't ask me how it really started, buddy. One minute Mike and Fi were begging me to help them figure out a case. Then we were on the floor fooling around and covered in blood. That was six months ago, and I'd been with them ever since.
We'd been doing a pretty good job of keeping it private. Maddie was the only one who knew, and that's because she doesn't know how to mind her own business — bless her heart.
The idea popped into my head out of nowhere one summer night — the way all of my bad ideas happen. "We need to tell Jesse."
Fiona's hand stopped moving on my dick. "Might you stop thinking about Jesse while we're doing this?"
"I might, if this whole deal wasn't giving me guilt-related limp prick."
"It doesn't feel limp at all," Fiona scoffed. She squeezed it as Michael kissed the back of my neck.
I couldn't concentrate on what Mikey was trying to say, but I picked "We're on a need-to-know basis. And Jesse doesn't need to know yet."
"Yeah, that's all fine and dandy now, but what if there's some kinda emergency? He'll be pissed…" Fi started kissing me, Mike started pulling off the rest of my clothes — a guy like me isn't made out of stone, y'know? I barely heard the door open.
You think you know people, man. You go to work every day, sit next to them for hours while they talk about their sports scores (or that boat their ladyfriend got them — or that cute little pair of shoes they just bought). You play strategy games with them, listen to them complain, treat their wounds and run interference with them for the feds. After all of the trust that takes, you don't expect to get there early for a five-forty meeting and find them all tangled up in bed, your cool spy friend banging the hot chick you were trying to get with while she bangs the guy you consider your best friend.
A more sophisticated cat would make a joke and get out of there slowly. Not me. My jaw hit the floor. "Woah!" I covered my eyes like a virgin caught in a whore house — you would too if you'd just got yourself an eyeful of Sam Axe's balls bouncing around. And I don't even want to get into what Mike was doing with his hand.
"Jesse!" I could hear Sam, which meant this wasn't a nightmare and I really had just seen him going to town on Fiona and Mike at the same time. "You didn't call to say you were running early, buddy!"
Sam's fake cackle was followed by a huffing sound from Fiona. "I hate it when Sam's right."
"I'm the innocent party here — I haven't even told my mother," Michael said. He sounded as weary as fuck, and I heard his belt buckle jingle as he reached for his pants. "Jesse didn't need to know."
"Yeah, sorry Jess — these guys get off on this cloak and dagger stuff." I heard a yelp and pried open an eye to see Fiona wearing a huge, satisfied grin while Sam rubbed the back of his head.
"He's full of blarney — as usual. We were just hoping to spare you a little pain." Fi pulled the blanket over her head and started pulling her stuff on under the covers.
Michael coughed. I must've been staring at Fi for too long. "You could've spared me some," Sam complained, rubbing the back of his head.
"Why would I want to do that?"
"I'm gonna go outside and wait for you guys to finish getting dressed," I said, trying not to watch Fiona's legs as her feet hit the floor.
"Jesse…" Michael began, but I didn't want to hear him explain why he was doing whatever the hell he'd been doing to Sam two minutes before.
"Look, it's okay man…it's weird…but it's okay…" I was lying about the cool part, but it wasn't important now, with everyone half naked — with SAM half-naked.
"Aww, Jess, don't be like that." He cursed as he knocked something over.
"Boys, let him have a little cool down time. " Fiona said. Damn, called out by a chick half my height? That was cold. An argument sparked up between the three of them, but I was gone.
I spent ten minutes out there picking apart the grass poking up next to the front wheel of the Charger before Sam popped his head out of the apartment, buttoning his shirt.
"Hey," he said, sounding more sheepish than I'd ever heard him.
"Hey," I said, staring at his chest. I knew I had no hope of bullshitting Sam, but I tried it anyway. "It's cool. The Anderson chick's waiting for us at the Plaza…"
"Jesse, Is this gonna make things weird for the four of us?" he asked. "I'm hoping it won't, 'cause our lives ride on what you do to help us out."
"Look, let's just get to the place and do our thing," I begged, moving toward my Land Rover. Sam lingered behind, and I took one look over my shoulder.
"I love them," he said. It was a little plea, voiced quietly. "It took me awhile to figure it out, but it's true. I've been all over this great big world, and no one else does it for me like they do. And man, do they do it. Have you ever seen Fi just go to town…"
"Right," I said. What could you say to that? 'Keen'? "It's none of my business what goes on between you guys off-hours."
"Okay," Sam said. He pinned his shirt studs down and checked himself in the rear-view mirror.
"Do the rich chicks you date know about this?"
Sam paused, and shook his head. "I gave them up a long time ago."
Now he had to be bullshitting me. "…You were just bragging to us about Elsa?"
Then Sam spoke more hesitantly. "Yeah, uh…about Elsa. She's a buddy of mine. Old buddy. Saved her life when she was down and out. All the favors she gives me come from that one night."
"Really? Forty million dollars in cars, electronics and houses just from that one save?"
"It was a pretty big save. Pulled her out of a burning building back in Havana a couple of years ago, back when she was just starting her business." He smirked. "Not bad for an old man."
"That's a helluva lot to swallow, man."
Sam shook his head. "Just trust me on this, brother — I don't cheat. Especially not on Mike and Fi."
"Still isn't any of my business, "I said, and distracted myself with the road that stretched out in front of us.
There's no bigger pain in the ass than being frozen out of somebody's life. I'm the kind of guy who likes keeping his contacts lubricated and close at hand. Jesse turning his back on us would be bad news.
"Okay," I said, shoving the door to the loft closed. "So, Jesse knows."
Fiona reclined across the bed, painting her nails, while Michael checked his voicemail. "And it's his problem if he doesn't like it," Fiona said, weaving her toes in the air to dry the polish.
"Getting a little defensive there, Tinkerbelle," I laughed, plopping down beside Fi and kissing her lips quickly.
"We knew this day would come," Michael said. "It's time we all stopped putting off the inevitable and explained to Jesse what happened, and why we've been hiding it from him."
"I wouldn't say we've been hiding anything," Fiona replied. One of her clever little hands had slid across the sheets to my lap. The girl knows what she wants.
"Yeah…" Michael smirked at the sudden deepening of my voice but he didn't look up. "New plan: let's take him to Maddie's house for Sunday dinner."
Michael cringed. "Oh, that sounds great — a nice, relaxing Sunday with my mother. Maybe a nice, leisurely stroll through an Iraqi gun range would be more smooth.
"Okay, let's take a vote," I suggested. "All in favor of Dinner at Maddie's tomorrow?"
Two hands shot up.
Michael held up his cell phone.
I chuckled, getting my free arm around my best friend. "Sorry, Mikey — those're the wages of democracy."
"He's gone sour again," she said.
"Got that right," I said. "Let's have a little fun without him."
"Oh Sam. Just say what I want to hear," Fi demanded.
I leaned against her hip and whispered, "I have those m-80s you wanted."
"Mmmm…" Fiona moaned against my lips, kissing me between words. "You know the way to a woman's heart…" she eyed Michael and ran a hand up his thigh.
"I'm checking our messages," he growled. Fiona rolled her eyes in response; I tugged on her arm and whispered a series of filthy ideas into her ear. A turned-on Fiona's a work of art, and she had her sights set on us.
I grabbed Michael by the thigh, and Fiona pressed herself against his back, kissing his neck. Together, we pulled him to the tangled covers and made him forget all about his little gadget.
That night at Maddie's, I sat down to my meatloaf (I THINK it was supposed to be meatloaf) and watched all three of them — paid real attention to what they were doing when they were around each other. If Michael was telling this story, he'd say spies have to pay attention to the nonverbal cues their targets throw out — I'd say I noticed the way Fi would rest her hand on Sam's knee, or the way Mike would smile at Sam, or the way he and Mike would laugh over some shared joke.
I waited for Maddie to take a smoke break before I dropped a bomb on them. "Okay, lay it on me — when did this start?"
"The kid doesn't pull punches," Sam said. He sighed and played with the rim of his beer bottle. "Remember the night we faked that kidnapping for Carmello?" That was pretty damn hard to forget; I frowned at them, and Sam glared right back at me. "That's when it started."
"That long? You've been banging each other all year! Damn, man…"
Michael said, "We all have our private sides. Yours is probably more vanilla than ours, but I think our little corner of the world is pretty innocent by comparison."
Sam rested his hand on Michael's shoulder. Fiona, as usual, seemed to get off on stoking up the flames. "We've known you for less than a year. Do you think we tell everyone our business?"
That was it — the last straw, the last thing I wanted to hear after the BS I'd been through that day. I slammed my palms against the table and got up to leave.
Fi automatically grabbed Michael's hand — it's something she'd done a million times before, but this time it had extra oomph behind it. "Don't go, Jesse. You're a part of this family —
"We might not be in love with you, brother, but we love you," Sam said.
Michael said absolutely nothing, his eyes shifting from face to face, looking exactly like he'd sat on a sharp tack.
"All right," I muttered. "Just don't mack on each other in front of me. That freaks me out."
"Deal, partner," Sam chuckled.
"Are you finished gossiping?" Maddie asked, coming back into the kitchen in a cloud of cigarette smoke. She turned back toward the counter and lifted a large, burned disc toward the table. "Now everyone shut up and have some pie."
I had to agree with her — 'cause that was better than choking on stale Marlboro smoke.
"Settled?" I asked, my head on Michael's chest.
"Settled," Michael agreed, running his hand through Fiona's hair.
"We'll pry that stick out of his bum yet," Fi said, drowsing against my chest.
The next day I had lookout duty. Got to watch all three of them together at once. Man, were they running the game together, the three of them. Fi with a gun twice the size of her body. Sam with his calm, easy way. Michael being volatile and controlled at the same time, the ringleader. Little looks and touches tell me everything I need to know about what's going on under the surface.
I guess you could say they were right all along.
But I know I'm right, too. Guess that's just love, man; weird and wild and sweet as honey.
Some day, I hope I get to feel that way about someone special of my own.