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new Once A Thief fic: teaser
OaT threesome
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had started writing a new Once A Thief fic. So, I thought I'd post an update on that: I have been working on it obsessively ever since, and the thing is now 35,000 words long (and not finished yet).

I'm having so much fun!

I expect I'll return to the Buffyverse sometime soon, but right now I am just having a blast immersing myself in the wacky world of this strange Canadian action/drama that aired for only one season in the late 1990's, and which propelled me personally into the universe of fanfic.

Speaking of which: it is so weird to be writing a story set in 1999 and realizing that it's a historical period and that I have to be careful to avoid anachronisms. I remember 1999 like it was yesterday, you guys! And yet the characters live in a world without smartphones. They are secret agents working for a Shadowy Government Agency, and when they need to drive somewhere in rural Ontario they pull out a big paper road map.

Anyway ... I'm not going to be posting this story as a work in progress, but I decided I'd like to post a teaser for the handful of you out there who expressed interest in this project.

Notes: This story is a love letter to OaT's OT3: it will be a Mac/Vic/Li Ann story. It's just going to take me a while to get them there.

There are no content warnings for this chapter, though there will eventually be some for the story as a whole.

Chapter 1

"Okay, let's see 'em," Vic said, shoving the last of his chips into the centre of the table.

Mac turned over his cards with a grin—two Aces, two queens, and a seven of diamonds. His grin didn't falter when Vic showed his hand of five spades. "Come to Papa," Mac said, reaching for the pile of chips.

"Not so fast," Vic said, snatching at Mac's hand. "A flush beats two pairs, remember?"

"Oh come on." Mac turned to Vic, peering over his sunglasses. "Seriously?"

"Jesus Christ, what kind of a con man doesn't even know how to play poker?"

"Maybe I'm scamming you," Mac suggested, sitting back. "Let you think I'm an easy mark, then—wham!" he clapped his hands, "in for the kill."

"Yeah, right." Vic gathered up the chips and took a handful. Stuffed them in his mouth and crunched.

Potato chips. They were playing for potato chips. Because Mac had no fucking idea how to play poker and Vic had been trying to teach him for the past two hours.

"We didn't play poker in Hong Kong," Mac said. "Look, sometime I'll teach you Mahjong."

Vic snorted. "Isn't that an old-ladies game?"

"We'd need four players—have to get the girls into it. Li Ann and I used to play with the godfather and Michael."

Awkward silence. Shit. Vic looked up. Mac was suddenly intently studying his own fingernails. What with the sunglasses, it was hard to read his expression.

And what the fuck was Mac doing wearing sunglasses inside Vic's apartment at eleven pm?

It had been two months since Michael had tried to kill Mac. It was one of those things they just didn't talk about.

Unless they were going to talk about it now?

"So anyway," Mac said, "I guess Li Ann isn't going to call."

"Yeah," Vic said. Not going to talk about Michael, check. "Maybe you should just go home. I mean, she's probably home herself by now."

"Unless she—"


"No, I mean—but she could've, this time."

"Fifth time's the charm?" Vic snorted. "Seriously, no. Li Ann does not put out on the first date."

"Maybe with you she didn't." Mac smirked.

Vic rolled his eyes. "And you're trying to say she did with you? Come on, you two had known each other since you were, like, twelve. I don't think the 'first date' scenario really applied."

Mac shrugged. "I'm just saying—she says it's different now. She's different."

"I'll say." Vic shook his head. "I still can't believe she's dating guys from personals ads."

"Well how else is she going to meet someone from outside the Agency?" Mac asked, a bit defensively.

Mac had a point. "She could always do what we do," Vic suggested. "Start dating an arms dealer or an art thief."

They both laughed a bit louder and longer than the comment had really deserved.

"Another beer?" Vic offered, catching his breath.

"Yeah," Mac said, obviously forgetting he'd been about to go home.

Just as Vic was opening the fridge, he heard his apartment door opening.

"Oh thank God," Vic heard Mac mutter.

Vic grabbed a third bottle of beer.

"So, another dud?" Vic hazarded.

"Total disaster," Li Ann said. She took a long drink before elaborating. "The restaurant was robbed."

"Oh my God," Mac said, sitting up straighter. "Are you okay?" He'd taken his sunglasses off when Li Ann arrived. The three of them were in Vic's living room now; Mac and Vic at opposite ends of the couch, Li Ann in the easy chair.

Li Ann rolled her eyes. "The guy was just some poor junky. He looked like he'd never held a gun before. I disarmed him before he hurt anybody. Unfortunately my date was so scared he had an asthma attack. I had to take him to the E.R."

"Oooooh," Vic said with a sympathetic wince.

"You know what?" Li Ann said. "I think we're not meant to date normal people."

"You're just coming to that conclusion now?" Mac asked.

Li Ann sighed. "I thought it was worth a try."

"What's the appeal of normal, anyway?" Mac said. "Normal is boring."

"I thought it might make a nice change," Li Ann said.

"From Vic?" Mac snickered into his bottle. "Not likely."

"Hey, if I'm boring you, feel free to go hang out with one of your more exciting friends," Vic said. "Oh, wait. You don't have any."

"Can you two be in a room for ten minutes without bickering?" Li Ann asked with an edge of irritation.

"Hey, we've been hanging out all evening," Mac said. "Having a great time. Vic's been teaching me to play poker. We're not bickering, we're just having fun." He leaned over to mock-punch Vic in the shoulder, grinning.

"I should've just spent the evening with you guys," Li Ann said, casting a gloomy look down at her beer. "It would've been better than that so-called date."

"Tomorrow night, then?" Mac asked, perking up. "We could rent a kung fu flick, get takeout."

Li Ann buried her face in her hands, but Vic could see a smile peeking through. "Yes," she said. "I give up. No more dating. I'll just grow old alone alongside you guys."

"Well, you wouldn't be technically alone," Vic pointed out. "As long as you're with us."

"And it's not like we're actually going to grow old," Mac said.

There was an awkward silence. Li Ann looked at the bottle in her hands and Vic looked at Mac. Mac stared back at him, a challenging look in his eyes.

"Okay, Jesus Mac, you don't just say things like that," Vic said after a tense moment.

"What?" Mac slouched down on the couch and flipped his sunglasses back on. "There's no point in denying it. We get shot at on a weekly basis. We barely made it out of that warehouse alive in December. Fuck, Li Ann, you already thought I was dead for like a year and a half. And it wasn't so bad, right? You moved on."

"Not that bad?" Li Ann looked at him. "When I saw that factory explode, a part of me died. It hurt like nothing I'd ever felt before."

Li Ann's gaze was locked on Mac, who was as obviously discomfited now as Li Ann and Vic had been a moment ago. Vic shifted uneasily and thought about clearing his throat.

"Well, it's all water under the bridge now, right?" Mac said with an attempt at a flippant grin.

"I never stopped loving you," Li Ann said to Mac.

Vic suddenly felt a little light-headed, and his throat was dry. He took a drink of beer.

"That's not what you said before," Mac pointed out. He sounded a little hoarse himself.

"I thought I couldn't ever let myself be hurt like that again." Li Ann shook her head a little. "But that was ... that was the wrong choice." She put her bottle of beer down on the floor and went over to sit next to Mac on the couch. Mac eyed her warily, but he didn't try to move away. She took his sunglasses off him, and set them down on the coffee table.

It didn't surprise Vic when Li Ann leaned in to kiss Mac. Vic had seen it coming from the moment she put her bottle down.

It still hit him like a punch to the gut.

You think you're over someone, and then she comes to your place after a failed date and suddenly starts kissing your rival, who is also—let's face it—your best friend. And everything turns upside down.

Vic really, really wanted to leave, but it was his living room.

Mac was kissing her back with enthusiasm. His hands were wrapped around her waist. Her hands were tangled in his hair.

Fuck it. Vic stood up and headed for his bedroom.

"Wait," Li Ann said, pulling away from Mac. "Vic. Don't go." Leaving Mac behind, she walked over to Vic and put her hands behind his neck. She leaned her forehead against Vic's and said softly, close to his lips, "I never stopped loving you either."

Vic felt like his heart had stopped.

She kissed him. He had not seen that one coming.

Her lips were soft. The kiss was gentle and quick, and then she moved away again. Vic sat back down on his end of the couch because he felt like his knees might give way otherwise.

"I always felt like I was being ripped apart, choosing between you," she said. "Choosing neither of you seemed easier."

"Li Ann," Mac said, his voice barely audible, "I never stopped loving you either."

"I know that," she said. "I'm going to kiss Vic again, okay?"

"Okay," Mac said.

Vic barely had time to think that maybe actually he was the one she should've asked, when Li Ann was on his lap. Kissing him like she used to when they were first engaged, before Mac had come back from the dead and thrown Vic's life into chaos.

Vic closed his eyes, let himself be carried away with it. It occurred to him that this was her way of saying goodbye. Li Ann and Mac were going to get back together, like Mac had always wanted, like Vic had always feared.

Then there was a shift, something Vic couldn't quite place—maybe the creak of sofa cushions, the scuff of sock feet on carpet—and Vic opened his eyes and saw that Mac was kneeling in front of them. Mac was caressing Li Ann's hip while Li Ann bent to kiss Vic's collarbone.

"Um," Vic said.

"Shhh," Li Ann said. "It's all right."

All right with who? Vic wondered, wildly. "No, seriously, it's okay. I can leave."

"If you want to," Li Ann said, but then she kissed him again on the mouth.

Mac, Vic saw, was sucking her fingers. Vic could feel the warmth of Mac's right knee pressed against the instep of Vic's left foot.

"Li Ann," Vic said, pulling away from her kisses just enough to speak, "is this ... is this what you want right now? Are we really doing this?" His voice cracked a little, and he could feel his neck flushing.

Mac had tugged up the bottom of Li Ann's shirt and was kissing the small of her back. He seemed to be paying no attention to Vic.

"Maybe," she said. She turned away from Vic, put a finger under Mac's chin to tilt up his face so she could kiss him again.

Vic could feel his cock swelling; as confused and disconcerted as he felt, he was also seriously turned on.

Li Ann's shirt was still half rucked up from where Mac had been kissing her. Vic slid his hands under her shirt and up her torso until he felt the bottom edge of her bra. Li Ann, still busy with Mac, murmured approval.

Mac climbed back up onto the couch, his lips locked with Li Ann's the whole time. Vic fumbled with the buttons of Li Ann's shirt, even as he wondered how far this could possibly go.

Vic was not a kinky kind of guy. And up until five minutes ago, he would've said the same of Li Ann. She'd certainly never said anything to him, during their time together, about wanting to try anything wild like this.

Yet here they were.

Once Vic had Li Ann's shirt undone, he reached around back to unclasp her bra. It was a little awkward since she was still kissing Mac. Vic's hand brushed something behind Li Ann's back and he realized it was Mac's arm. Vic jerked away from the touch like he'd been electrified. "Sorry," he muttered, but neither Mac nor Li Ann seemed to notice.

Then Li Ann broke away from Mac and turned to Vic. She kissed him once on the lips and then pulled back so that she could begin unbuttoning his shirt.

His lumberjack shirt, she used to call it with amusement—the thick red plaid. It was comfy and warm in the winter.

While Li Ann fiddled with Vic's buttons, Mac leaned in and kissed Vic.

On the mouth.

Vic had a moment of blind panic.

"Gah!" he yelped, frantically pulling away. With Li Ann still on his lap, he couldn't manage more than an awkward contortion. "What the fuck, Mac?"

Mac looked startled, then confused. "What's wrong?"

Li Ann, meanwhile, slid off Vic's lap and found her feet. She looked from Vic to Mac and back again, tugging her shirt closed in front of her. "You know what?" she said in a suddenly-tight voice. "This was a mistake. I'm sorry. I—I think I should leave now."

"No!" Mac said, desperately. But Li Ann was already half-way to the door, grabbing her winter coat from the back of the easy chair.

"It's been a messed-up night," she said. "I have a lot on my mind. I shouldn't have taken it out on the two of you. I'm really sorry." She was putting on her boots as she spoke, and not making eye contact.

"Li Ann!" Mac begged. "Don't be sorry. Don't leave. I'm sorry, I—" He eyed Vic wildly. "I won't do it again. I promise. Tell her not to leave!"

Vic's heart was still hammering from the moment when Mac had kissed him. He just shook his head; he couldn't speak.

Li Ann was out the door.

Mac punched the couch cushions with a wordless cry. Vic was half-afraid Mac would try to punch him—was ready to block, to fight back—but instead Mac just sort of crumpled in on himself.

Vic felt, on the tip of his tongue, a smarmy, defensive remark about how Mac needed to relax about the fact that they'd just failed to get laid. But he stopped himself in time. Because he knew this wasn't about sex.

After another few seconds, Mac stood up. With a casual air that was entirely, obviously forced, he said "I guess I'd better go too."

"Yeah, well, good night then," Vic said, because pretending the whole thing had never happened was the best scenario he could possibly think of.

Moments later, Vic was alone.

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