Prodigals has been out for a whole day and I haven’t squee’ed yet.
Squee! I love this story. The character with the flamy non-tattoo on his arm is one of my favourite characters ever. I love the world and the magic. I’ll be doing more with it, but not for the next while. The opening is on the Loose Id website, so I’m going to cut to my other favourite scene in the beginning, in which Janus is late and Vision has words for him. (I cut out a minor-y spoiler from book three)
Vision abandoned Hanz in the small cluster of lieutenants that waited outside the meeting, with the firm understanding that Hanz could leave any time he wanted. They were late to the conclave. That wasn’t unusual, but even after he’d taken the time to shower, change, and drive into the city, his seat wasn’t the only one that was empty. Janus wasn’t there either.
Breylorn nodded to him and Vision touched his throat. Once, the elders around the table would have stalked out in disgust at being kept waiting. But over half of those vampires were now dead, and the young ones saw Janus as some kind of god.
Vision didn’t sit down. “Wasn’t this his idea?” he said, and his voice echoed in the empty room.
“The fucker,” Vision said, and turned around.
He heard the whisper of chairs, people about to move, but he held out his hand. “No one moves until I get back.”
He hadn’t meant to push as hard as he could, but he did, and that left almost the entire room rooted to their chairs. Of all them, only Breylorn and Drey seemed immune. Breylorn because he was Janus’s ex-master and Drey for being Janus’s ex-lieutenant. Breylorn followed Vision out of the paneled boardroom with its pretentious white carpet and leather chairs.
“Do you have to go out of your way to annoy them?” Breylorn asked under his voice.
Vision was about to growl that he did. It was the first time Janus had stood up the council, but it was about the ninth time Janus had either cancelled on him or just not shown up. He didn’t get a chance to explain that to Breylorn; when he pushed the door open, Hanz was dangling one of the young lieutenants by his throat up against the blackened window overlooking the city.
“Is this really necessary?” Vision asked Hanz instead.
“Yes, sir,” Hanz said without turning around.
Vision sighed. “Meet me downstairs when you’re done.”
“Yes, sir,” Hanz repeated, and went back to what he was doing.
Breylorn joined him the elevator. “You give him too much rein,” he admonished.
Vision felt the build-up of a headache behind his eyes. He had already eaten before he came, but it didn’t help. The moon was close tonight and demanded the rush of fresh blood. His veins already felt constricted. He closed his eyes. “You don’t get to lecture me about how much rein you give your lieutenant. Janus was only with you every couple months at best, and that’s only when you fought him to come in.”
“And see how that turned out?” Breylorn said. He took a deep breath. “I’m old, Vision.”
“And I’m a slut for handcuffs.”
Breylorn was silent.
Vision opened his eyes. “What, I thought we were pointing out the blatantly obvious.”
“I always thought I had more time,” Breylorn continued. “Centuries, even. I wanted the conclave as mine.”
“It’s not quite time to break out the walker yet, ol’ timer,” Vision said, voice flat.
Breylorn shook his head. “There’s more power now than there’s ever been, and it’s only feeding on itself, creating more. Why have a lieutenant when you can have an entire army?”
“For one, they don’t make beds big enough.”
“Vision, for your own sake, be serious for just a minute. I’m offering you the key to the kingdom!”
“The kingdom is parked in Janus’s garage, Breylorn. The conclave waited an hour for him. An hour, under a hunter’s moon.”
“I’ll handle Janus,” Breylorn said.
Vision looked at him, eyebrow raised.
“Don’t say anything.”
“It was too easy, anyway. Really, it was beneath me.” Vision walked over to the empty reception desk and perched on it until the elevator door slid open.
Hanz exited, dusting off his hands. “Finished?” Vision called. Hanz looked over, and what was left of the anger Vision had brought with him evaporated. He jumped down, then pinched the bridge of his nose. It seemed to stave off the headache.
“You should go…release them,” Vision said, turning to Breylorn. “I’m sure your master plan will fail if we’re late and they’re stuck there over the day.”
Breylorn nodded. He approached Vision. They were the same height, so Breylorn didn’t have to tilt Vision’s head back too far. Breylorn kissed his neck, once, then bit down. Breylorn didn’t take much at all, and he walked away with Vision’s blood on his lips. It would be enough to release the elders.
Frank brought the car. It was odd that Vision’s ride had gone from being one of the last ones out of the parking lot to a spot out front. “You going to tell me about it?” Vision said, once they were outside.
“It’s not important,” Hanz said.
“Disrespect is important, Hanz.”
“It was my disrespect, sir, not yours. And I think we came to an agreement on the matter. You’re not angry, are you?”
Vision was silent. The suit jacket was rather severe on Hanz, but it hadn’t hidden the bicep as he’d held the other lieutenant over his head. “No. You need me, you say the word, right?”
“Yes, sir,” Hanz said. The limo pulled up, and Hanz opened the door for Vision. Vision got in, slid over the seat, and put his head on Hanz’s shoulder once Hanz joined him in the car.
The doorman in Janus’s building nodded to Vision as he entered, and didn’t bother to call up.
Lyall jerked the door open, fangs out. Vision stepped between him and Hanz, out of habit, but then Lyall recognized him. His fangs slid back in and he touched his throat. “Forgive me,” he said, looking down.
“Who were you expecting?” Vision asked. Lyall still hadn’t unblocked the door, but he was coming back into himself.
“No one. But I felt something…bad,” Lyall moved out of the way, and Vision took over again. He put his hand on Lyall’s shoulder and felt the way he was shaking. There was too much in him, Vision knew. Janus might have infinite capability, but Lyall sure as hell didn’t. Lyall sagged at the touch, and Vision guided him gently to Hanz. “Take care of him.”
Hanz immediately put his arm around Lyall and led him back to the elevator. He was making, Vision swore, tutting noises and sounded exactly like a British nanny. Lyall responded to it, at least.
Vision knew, without being told, that Janus was in the study alone. The pull from him was tidal. Nor did Janus look surprised to see him. He was sitting at his desk, staring through the new smoky glass. He turned and smiled. “I was expecting you.”
Vision recognized the look on Janus’s face. It was that of a long-term opiate user. “What the hell are you doing?”
Janus’s smile was beautiful. “Existing.”
“Did you forget that you could exist at conclave meetings that you yourself called?”
Janus’s smile faded, but only for a second. “You made my apologies, of course.”
“Do I look like your secretary?” Vision snarled.
“Dunno,” Janus said. The smile was gone. “How do you look in a short skirt and pumps?”
“You’re fucking up, Janus. And you’re hurting Lyall.”
Janus growled. “I am not.”
“No?” Vision asked taunted, really. Janus was so stuffed with power that Vision felt his hair rise. Janus stood up. Vision’s lip curled, an obvious challenge, and Janus had him up against the wall, teeth to his throat. Vision didn’t fight Janus grabbing his wrists and hauling him up, and the way his body responded was quite pathetically predictable.
“Janus,” Vision said, and was momentarily proud of himself for not trying to rub his cock against Janus. It was quite the improvement. Janus was stronger than he was, older, too, and his skin was hot enough to burn him. “Janus,” he said again, louder this time, and then he snarled, pushing Janus back as hard as he could.
It was like trying to push a brick wall from his path, but the resistance seemed to wake Janus up. “What?”
“Something is seriously wrong with you, my friend,” Vision said.
Janus blinked. Vision pushed him again, this time rocking him back a couple inches. Vision tried again. “You’re trying to cow me, Janus. Like this. Me. Think about it.”
Janus looked down. “Oh.”
Vision landed on his feet, hard in every sense of the word. He braced himself on his knees until he felt his body cool off, but even then he was aching.
“Sorry about that.”
Vision coughed. “Don’t mention it.”
“You want a hand with anything?” Janus asked, sitting on his desk.
Vision thought about it for longer than he probably should have. “He’s fine,” Hanz said from the doorway. “And we’d appreciate you keeping your hands to yourself.”
“We would?” Vision asked.
“Yes, sir,” Hanz said.
Janus looked up. “Lyall?”
“From what?” Janus demanded.
“His quadruple shot of espresso with the side of speed you’ve been serving him,” Hanz said. If there was the slightest tinge of recrimination in his voice, Vision could have imagined it.
Janus went to him, but Hanz put his hand on Janus’s shoulder. “No. You shouldn’t be around him right now. He still needs to recover.”
“Plus, the conclave?” Vision added.
Janus bowed his head. “Right, let’s go.”
It was Vision’s turn to put his hand on Janus’s shoulder. “You can take the second elevator. I’m fucking Hanz on the way down.”
Janus grinned, and for a moment he was good old Janus back again. “Well, make it quick. I still have to live here.”
Hanz hit the stop button shortly after the elevator started moving. He’d drunk from Lyall, Vision could tell, and was positively bursting with the smell of blood. He loosened his tie, unbuttoning the first two of his buttons on his shirt, and then turned around and braced himself against the wall.
“Look at me,” Vision said.
Hanz looked up into the mirrored wall. His blue eyes were open, his fangs were out, and the honest openness to his face was, to Vision, the best kind of turn-on. Vision tore at their clothing, took a moment to align them quickly, and then he was inside. Hanz closed his eyes against the burn, and his sandy brown lashes were now dark against his cheeks. They weren’t tears, not exactly, but he didn’t open his eyes again. Instead, he arched his back and offered his neck to Vision.
Vision couldn’t take it, not at first. Hanz was always so tight, and Vision had been pretty much ready since Janus had pushed him up against the wall. This was different, though. Hanz was his, entirely, utterly, and completely. He began to thrust, hard, and had to brace himself against the bar Hanz was leaning into to get better strokes. Their hands were beside each other for only a second before Hanz put his over Vision’s and interlocked their fingers.
Hanz tightened his grip, so Vision couldn’t move, even if he wanted to. Despite his dick firmly inside Hanz, a new kind of anticipation filled him. He faltered, only for an instant, but Hanz was there.
“Were you doing something, sir?” Hanz asked. His dry voice, the one he used when he was always in command, was like silk against Vision’s skin.
Vision wanted free, so that he could grab onto Hanz’s hips, but Hanz wouldn’t let him go. “You’re going to have to trust me, Vision.”
Vision did. And Hanz knew he did, so he didn’t even need to respond. That was best. Hanz was always so careful, never letting him go far enough that he’d slip out. Vision closed his eyes, relying on the soft sounds Hanz was making to guide him. The more freedom he wanted to fuck Hanz into the wall, the less Hanz gave him, pulling him closer to him in tighter and tighter circles until Vision could hardly move at all.
And that was all Vision needed. He bit down on the offered neck, sucking hard, and Hanz, despite himself, gasped at the sudden pain. Hanz jerked away, giving Vision a final, full, satisfying thrust, and he was coming along with Hanz.
For a second, he thought he heard bells in his head, he was coming so hard, but that was just the elevator alarm system. It had finally kicked in after being stopped for so long. Hanz let him go, and Vision broke away. It took him a moment to readjust his clothes with his body still singing from its release, but in that time Hanz had tidied up the mess they made, got dressed himself, and was dealing with the awkward telephone call from security.