Blood Ties I
The Devil You Know

Angyl and Rina


Disclaimers: Earth Angels and all the characters in it belongs to Imagine Entertainment, Kindred: The Embraced and all it's characters belongs to John Leekley Productions. Adapted song lyrics are from 'Inside You' by Stabbing Westward.

New York City

From his perch high on one of the arches of the Tri Borough Bridge, the Toreador Kindred - Zane - studied the island of Manhattan. Millions of lights twinkled below, making it look like a fairyland, but the young Kindred knew that such places were the most dangerous of all. His heightened hearing picked up the sound of car horns, music, gunfire and the occasional scream.

All in all it was the perfect place to re-emerge, if he could stay out of the way of the Prince of the city. Scenting the night air, he sifted through the layers of pollution, searching for the perfume of blood and finding it, elusive as the brush of a shark slipping past a swimmer in cloudy water.

Sliding his tongue over an elongated incisor, the Toreador felt the flesh split open and tasted the heady tang of blood in his mouth. Tonight he would hunt. The city housed enough kine living on the edge of society that that one or two vanishing wouldn't be noticed. Not for them would be the gift of an Embrace; Zane had learned his lesson in San Francisco a year ago, and he bore the scar across his throat to remind him of it.

Very few humans deserved the gift of being made Kindred; he knew that, and - while his Toreador blood made him view the Masquerade as a huge game, he now understood its value. Surviving the blow Lillie had dealt him had hardened something inside Zane. He would look back, remembering the months of lying in a grave, too weak to move or even attempt to rise from the ground, and know that the freedom he had felt Embracing those girls was a lie. No Kindred was free except perhaps for the Princes. They enforced the laws, but in the manner that suited them best. And that was the kind of power Zane now wanted.

The night was calling, its siren song silvering Zane's dark eyes and sending pulses of electricity through his veins in place of the blood that would soon fill them. Slipping from his perch, the young-seeming man ghosted down the cables, unseen by the people in the cars below. The city awaited, a city that would be his in time if he could simply find its key.

"Lucas is dead," Antonio informed the chief of New York's fallen angels from the shadows of the alcove.

"I love a good beginning," Maximilian purred. "Good night, Antonio." Smiling as he watched the petals of a rose in full bloom, plucked from its stem at the height of its beauty, cascade like blood from his hand, Max licked his lips.

"Oh, Gregory. Dear, sweet, pure, Gregory. Your whelps have done it this time!" Chuckling, Max crushed the blood red petals underneath his hand as he stood, just as he would eventually do to all those mewling humans and their pathetic guardians.

"It would seem I need to find a new partner for my nightclub business... and some fresh blood to help me play this game correctly. Time to go and visit the tired and huddled masses and see who's amenable to selling their soul for eternal life."

Walking out the door of his gilded tower, the insidiously beautiful chief fallen angel went hunting, humming as he went. "Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree..."

Sai Woo Pan's

Black leather duster flapping at his heels like the ghosts of his past victims, Zane stepped off the street and through the doors of the club. This was just what he had been looking for: a place where drinks, drugs and flesh were sold with equal casualness and where people didn't ask questions. The mugger he'd drained earlier in the evening had only served to whet his appetite; now he wanted to be able to take his time over his main course.

From the murmured gossip he picked up on the way to the bar, Zane caught the fact that something had happened here earlier in the day. Someone had killed the manager, and the police had just cleared the place for re-opening.

Ordering a beer he had no intention of drinking, Zane commandeered a table in the corner, watching the ever-changing flux of patrons with a calculating eye. Someone tied to this place had connections - and good ones at that. There weren't any other Kindred here, which made things less complicated, at least so far.

He made the liquid in his mug vanish and ordered a shot of Jack for variety, keeping a constant eye on the room and the door. He was toying with the idea of exerting a little influence on one of the whores when the power dynamic in the club suddenly changed. Zane's head shot up and his nostrils widened, scenting the smoke filled air. His eyes flashed silver and his incisors dropped before he got a hold of himself and controlled his impulses again.

That man. The one who just walked through the door. That man who looked human but didn't feel like one of the sheep. He wasn't Kindred either or anything else Zane had ever encountered, which begged the question; what was he? Whatever it was, the Toreador wanted a taste of him, badly.

Maximilian strolled into Lucas' bar like a demi-god surveying his sacrificial lambs. Suckers, all of them. Look at these poor mortal sheep, ripe for the slaughter, their souls primed for the taking. He could feel the power and the energy dance and weave through the crowd - the scent of corruption, avarice, lust and vice like the finest of perfumes.

Walking up to the bar, he watched as a bottle of very old single malt was taken out from underneath the bar and he was given a triple shot of the ancient liquid worth its own weight in gold without so much as a question. Lucas had trained his staff well.

"A toast!" he suddenly yelled, making the crowd go dead silent. "To Lucas, whose drinks weren't watered down, his service everything anyone could have wanted and his decadence a thing to celebrate. Next round is on the house, ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of the management!"

The stampede to the bar was vastly amusing. Suckers, every last one of... Hello, and who is this? There was something cold about the beauty sitting in the shadows watching the patrons as if they were a meal. Something familiar and...

Max suddenly got a good look at the quicksilver eyes of the young man in the corner as he shifted and the light caught them. Silver and undead. "Kindred," he breathed, "in my bar. Well, this one has a set on him, doesn't he?"

Walking up to the table that the vampire had made his own, Max swallowed a third of the contents of his glass and then smiled a purely satanic smile. "You're either new to the city or you've got more balls than brains, young Kindred, to saunter into this club like you owned it.

"However, you're rather pretty, and I'm in a very congenial mood tonight, so you've got two minutes to convince me not to tear your no longer beating heart out and ship you off to that pathetic creature that calls herself Prince."

At this range, the power emanating from the green-eyed man was almost a physical force, and Zane willed himself not to simply close his eyes and bask in it. "Go ahead," he shrugged, showing an expression of lazy indolence that went well in hand with the life he had led in California. "She'd probably thank you for it, and I know the Prince of San Fran would.

"But you don't strike me as a man who wants to do something that would make the Prince's life any easier, am I right?" He knew he was; part of the gifts of being Embraced to the Toreador clan was an almost psychic prescience, and while Zane couldn't get a totally clean read on the stranger, he felt old and totally amoral - something Zane liked about a person.

"I honestly couldn't care less about any so called prince of the Kindred. I don't concern myself with what the Camarilla or the Sabbat do. In fact it benefits me to let you all go about your business because the more people you embrace, the more my side wins this war," Maximilian replied cryptically.

"However, you intrigue me. I have a proposition for you, one that would benefit us both." Taking out a business card, Max scribbled the address of the penthouse on the back of it. "If you care to hear it, drop by, day or night, though I know that there is that little issue with the sun that you younger generations have.

"There is, however, a time constraint on this offer. You have 24 hours to make up your mind, and then you deal with your own kind on your own." Maximilian downed the rest of his malt and stood, pleased with the night's events. "Oh, if you do decide to take me up on hearing about the offer, take a good look at the waitress behind the bar. The Asian looking one. She's part of the deal, so to speak."

And then Max was gone, faster than a human eye could track.

Eyes on the now empty chair across from him, Zane lifted the shot glass that held his drink and sniffed deeply. The harsh alcoholic fumes burned his nostrils, and he easily sifted out the scents of oak and grain from the perfume. A proposition. From someone who knew quite a bit about the Kindred. Someone who had his own agenda in the battle between the Camarilla and the Sabbat. This could be exciting.

And Zane felt he could do with some excitement in his life again.

He set the glass down at the edge of the table and vanished, swirling through the drunken mob, barely leaving a whisper of air in his wake.

The penthouse was furnished in a style that would make most Toreadors weep bloody tears for the beauty of it. Modernist, minimalist, but yet still cutting through artistic aesthetics with a razor-sharp edge, the artwork and decor met with Zane's approval. Whoever this Maximilian was, he had good taste.

A dark-haired woman wearing leather and lace had opened the door after the security guard in the lobby sent Zane up in the private elevator. He could have avoided the formality but was willing to play by the rules - for a short time.

"Maximilian will be with you soon. Can I get you anything?" The tone of the offer made Zane think of hot, carnal acts of animal sex, and he shook his head, declining. Maybe later, right now it was the mysterious Maximilian who had his interest.

He could feel the other man's presence in the penthouse and another, less powerful source of power as well. God, the music he could make if he had just a taste of that. The songs were there, haunting the back of his brain, but since his near-death, they refused to come to the forefront of his mind - something that was maddeningly frustrating. If he had the power, he could recapture them - along with everything else he wanted.

"Zane. Childe of Lillie Langtry, Primogen of the San Francisco Toreadors. She tried to behead him last year after he nearly exposed something called the Masquerade by leaving too many kine, or humans, not quite dead, thereby making them childer." Antonio sat in the chair in front of Maximilian's desk and gave his report. Finding out about the fledgling had been appallingly easy, but then again that was one of the reasons why Antonio now played with the devils instead of the angels. He'd found he preferred the shorter route.

"Julian Luna, Ventrue Prince of the city, ordered the final death, but instead of the typical bloodhunt he ordered Lillie to kill her childer as punishment to her for her arrogance. Apparently she botched the job, as evidenced by the scar around his throat. He spent months lying in a grave while his body healed, and the first chance he got, he hightailed it out of San Francisco. Bright boy. He worked his way across country and ended up here, in New York."

"Tell me more about the woman that sired my new toy; she sounds familiar to me," Max husked.

"Lillie Langtry, San Francisco Toreador Primogen, owner of the nightclub The Haven and on again off again lover of the city's Prince. She was born in 1853 on the Isle Of Jersey, England and embraced in her prime. The woman is said to be demanding, passionate and at times jealous. However, she is also practical and a good businesswoman She's entertained the thought of alliance with the Brujah but her loyalty to Julian is deep.

"Lillie is a 'siren'. Men cannot touch her without wanting her -- including the Ventrue Prince, who cannot resist her, no matter what he feels for other women like the human woman he's currently involved with, Caitlin. Lillie knows this and uses it. She is complex... relentless in her ambition for power and her knowledge that human women will come and go, but Lillie will always be there. She both wants the Prince and wants to be the Prince," Antonio concluded, closing his leather binder. "Can I ask you a question, Max?"

"Of course, Antonio."

"Who - no, what are these things?"

Max laughed. "They are the reason why we are not allowed to create life, Antonio. The Kindred are, in a way, our children," Maximilian informed the younger angel, laughing at the look of horror on his face.

"How well did He teach you the history of humanity, my love?" Maximilian cooed from behind the huge rosewood desk, practically swallowed up by the massive leather chair he sat in. "Obviously not everything if you were never told of the Children of Caine.

"This you probably know, Caine was the first man born of man. The first child of Adam and Eve. Caine slew his brother Abel and as a result was cast out of humankind - which was a group of four inbreeding cousins by that time or something silly. Humanity didn't even survive its infancy before people started selling their souls to our leader.

"Caine made a deal with you-know-who and was granted eternal life. But he was also made a little savage. He was made to lust for human blood. However, the first human he ever drank from was one of the fallen ones posing as human and working among the humans to corrupt them. Oh yes, this power struggle between our side and Gregory's side is as old as humanity.

"But I digress. By feeding on one of us the dynamic was changed. Caine not only killed and drained a mortal, but a mortal who was not quite human. It changed him - it made him Kindred, Vampire. And in making Caine Vampire, a contagion was let loose because Caine got lonely, as all creatures do. So Caine created childer - and those childer had childer and so on and so forth until 13 clans were created, and each of those damned souls bore the curse of Caine and had our blood swirling in their veins.

"They were powerful, those first ones. Drunk on the strength of our blood and those things that made us less human and more servants of him. It horrified and terrified the One upstairs, even though our side found it amusing. For each of these creatures created other creatures, and more and more human souls were damned.

"Each of those thirteen clans had one among them, usually the leader, whose first kill was one of us willing to sacrifice our mortal form in order to empower the clan and make it possible for more souls to be damned. We were ruthless and angry back in those days.

"But those early Kindred were greedy, and more and more knew of us, angels in disguise, and we became the prey. Our side because there were repercussions to munching on your old side. However He didn't want any of His angels or former angels in distress. So a temporary truce was struck, and together both sides made the Kindred so terrified of what we were that it became taboo, anathema to prey upon us. Which is why every Prince quakes when one of us walks by. The Princes know the consequences and the primogens, and therefore, all the clan members that exist in our cities are forbidden to hunt us. And if any young hothead tries - well, we tell the Prince, and an immediate bloodhunt is declared summarily, no questions asked.

"It serves our purposes to let the Kindred exist; they damn human souls to an undead existence, thereby robbing Him of them. The other side, your former side, won't talk of them or even acknowledge them unless they have to - Gregory for instance, didn't tell you any of this, did he? Idiot. Knowledge is power and if you'd known of them ... but then again for a Kindred to feast on the blood of one of the chosen instead of on one of the fallen... well, they spontaneously combust. All that disgusting purity and light, I guess.

"Which leads us to things today. These Kindred, now divided into three factions, the Camarilla, or the organized, play by the rules vampires; the Sabbat, the ones who play by a much more dangerous and risky set of rules; and the independent clans who belong to neither side. Think of the Camarilla like the Vampiric Gregory gang and the Sabbat as the Kindred version of us with the independents as the wildcards," Max continued.

"The Camarilla follow a set of rules they call the Masquerade. They exist first and foremost to enforce this edict. That is to hide. In plain sight. Over the centuries they've managed to erase all evidence of their existence from humanity and have become myths and ghost stories by which to scare young children. Thus concealed, they have continued to grow in power and to guide humanity to suit their whims. Like I said - lesser shades of our little war with the other side," Max finished at last.

"And now I have a singular opportunity. A Kindred on the outside of his own kind walking into my grasp. How can I look the other way at such a gift, I ask you?" the chief fallen angel smirked, a smile of pure malice. "Gregory and his whelps destroyed my chief minion. My Lucas. Now they pay and into my hands walks the instrument of my revenge. The perfect weapon. I really love a good beginning!"

Growing bored with waiting, Zane paced the length of the room. The city was alive outside the plate glass windows, and he itched to be out there, a part of it. He plucked a deep crimson rose from the arrangement on the low coffee table and raised it to his nose, sniffing the heady, almost funereal fragrance.

Turning from the window, the Toreador glared at the massive double doors. Patience had never been one of his virtues, even when he had been alive. His hand closed around the rose's stem, and he felt a distant pain as the thorns pierced his flesh. Dropping the bloom on the carpeting, Zane licked at the tiny wounds, letting the blood flow over his tongue and down his throat. It may not have given him strength, but the flavor was rich just the same.

The young woman came back into the room. "Maximilian has been detained; he will see you shortly."

Zane snarled at the thought of having to wait any longer. He could tell the man was behind those doors; this whole thing was a power play, one he wasn't going to take any longer.

"Bullshit." Shouldering past the girl, Zane tugged on the doors, undead muscles rippling as he yanked the thick wood from the frame and tossed it aside. Stalking into the dim, darkly decorated office, he tossed aside the long-haired man who attempted to stop him.

Stopping in front of the huge desk, the Kindred rested his hands on the polished top, his nails scoring lines in the wood. "You said you had a proposition for me. Tell me or stop wasting my time."

Maximilian eyed the young Kindred calmly before glancing at the other angel. "That will be all, Antonio. Thank you. Oh, please call maintenance and have them come up and fix the door first thing in the morning. I really do dislike having my doors ripped from their hinges."

Watching the other angel leave, Maximilian gestured for the vampire to sit. "I will tolerate your insubordination only because you do not yet work for me. Do that once you are under my employ and the punishment will be swift and brutal, I guarantee you," the chief fallen angel informed his guest in a voice as frigid as the wastelands of hell.

"Very well, Zane, childe of Lillie, primogen of the San Francisco Toreadors. Let's talk business."

Frowning, wondering how the man knew who he was and where he was from, Zane sank into a chair, moving with boneless grace. "First things first. Who and what are you?" he asked.

"Who I am is a businessman, in the middle of a... hostile takeover bid." Maximilian laughed inwardly at his euphemism. "What I am... well, if I'm not mistaken you will need to experience what I am to believe. Which is where my proposition comes in...

"Did you remember to look at that pretty Asian bartender I pointed out to you?" Max continued, changing the topic abruptly, but with reason. Zane grunted out a reply in the affirmative, his fingernail scoring deeper into the thick mahogany as his irritation increased. "You're beginning to bore me. I enjoy a good story, but this has been anything but that so far. The night is only so long and I'm hungry."

Maximilian's eyes narrowed and Zane found himself hurled across the room in the space of a human heartbeat, Max standing over him and glowering distastefully. "That desk belonged to Dante, I'll have you know, a personal friend of mine. I spent many a long hour watching him sit there and writing his Inferno. Kindly desist from damaging it."

That said, Max returned to his chair behind the desk. "Fine, you're bored; I'll make this quick. I want the girl dead by sunrise. And left in a particular bed of someone who luuuuves her," Maximilian gagged as he said that. "In return I'll let you have Sai Woo Pan's to manage and... I'll let you taste what you've been coveting since you first saw me. My blood."

Getting warily to his feet, Zane rolled his neck, feeling a dislocated shoulder pop back into place and several vertebrae shift to realign. Definitely more than human, but the Kindred was no closer to finding out what Maximilian was than he had been earlier.

"You want a girl dead, I want to feed. It seems our interests are the same right now, but what's going to keep the Prince from calling a bloodhunt against me for killing on her ground? You know so much about us, you know that's forbidden."

Settling himself in the chair again, Zane wisely kept his hands away from the wood. He hadn't been afraid of Julian, and he wasn't afraid of this man, but he was wary - very wary. "And if I'm doing this for you, I want your blood first - to take the edge off."

"The Prince of this city, any Prince of any city knows better than to cross my path, child," Maximilian replied with a truly terrifying gleam in his eyes. "They know the consequences would be... most unpleasant to cross one of my kind. So long as you work for me, you will be under the umbrella of that protection. But to give you proof of what I say....

"Morrighan, please escort Catherine in," Maximilian requested, pressing down the call button on his speaker phone. A short time later the Ventrue Prince and her Brujah bodyguards silently entered Maximilian's office.

"I'll make this short and sweet as you'll want to call your primogens together to make sure everyone knows. Catherine, this is Zane. Zane is mine. Any of the clans under your control declares a bloodhunt on him or tries to cause him a final death, and you will suffer the consequences. Do I make myself clear?"

"But he's Kindred - and a betrayer..." Catherine sputtered then gasped and backed up a pace as Maximilian let her catch a glimpse of his true nature underneath his human guise while Zane was looking away from him.

"Be very careful, Catherine. New York is an important city, did you think that he would put just anyone in charge of his efforts here?"

"I... forgive me. The primogens will know within the hour that this.... this.... Kindred," the Elder vampire hissed the word, "is not to be touched under pain of final death. Does this satisfy, Maximilian?"

"Very much so. It was nice doing business with you, Catherine. Oh... as a thank you gift ... you may want to be at the harbor tonight. Rumor has it a boatload of illegal immigrants are being smuggled into the country at Pier 29. No one would even know if they never made it past the dockyards."

"So, does that appease you, child?" Max asked Zane with a quirk of his eyebrow once the Prince and her party had been escorted out.

All right. The man was as good as his word - at least in this matter. He'd never seen a Prince back down to anyone before; it had been quite entertaining actually. Maybe Max would like to go to San Francisco some day...

The thought brought a smile to the young Toreador's face, one that flashed a length of fang. "Part of what I want anyway," he purred, flowing out of the chair and around the desk to Maximilian's side. "But given that little demonstration, I can take care of your little problem for you. She was beautiful, in a world-weary sort of way. I'm looking forward to draining her."

"Then I suggest you get going if you want to be back here before sunrise," Max said with a grin. Reaching for a piece of paper, he wrote the address of the angels' loft down and handed it to the young man.

"I want her body left in Nathan's room. Irishman, bit of a lilt, dark blond hair, scruffy clothes. Gregory is a large black man with no hair and an elegant wardrobe. The other two are women. This girl needs to be in Nathan's bed," Maximilian instructed.

That done, Max stood and walked over to the wet bar, reaching for a decanter of red wine and a dagger he'd placed there earlier. Pouring the wine into the glass, the angel quickly sliced himself and let a few drops of his blood commingle with the crimson liquid.

"If I give you any more, you're not going to be hungry enough to hunt," Max grinned as he handed the glass to the Kindred. "Bon appetitte," he purred and leaned against the back of his chair, waiting for the show.

Committing the instructions and the address to his memory, Zane dropped the paper in the waste can. "That sure of yourself, are you?" he chuckled, lifting the glass in a toast to his new employer before draining it to the dregs.

Flavor exploded over his tongue like a fire-bomb, scorching everything in its path in a flow of pure energy. It was like the first time he'd consciously drunk from Lillie, but it was a hundred, no, a thousand times stronger. His own heartbeat hammering in his ears, Zane leaned against the wall, his eyes wide and staring.

This was wilder than the first time he'd done heroin and had the benefits of the high without all the annoying dangers his human body had faced because of his addiction. Fuck, if it was this good diluted, what would it feel like feeding straight from the source?

Maximilian was watching, an amused smile on his face, but Zane couldn't bring himself to snarl at the man. "When I get back, you're going to tell me what you are," the Kindred whispered, setting the glass on the desk and casting a covetous look at the bloodied blade of the knife.

Tossing his hair back off his forehead, Zane smiled, the expression totally void of human emotion. "See you soon, Max. Hope you're ready for me." With that, the vampire seemingly vanished from the penthouse, buoyed by the power in those few drops of blood and by his need for more.

"'Come into my parlor,' said the spider to the fly," Max chuckled quietly as he took the glass and the blade into the kitchen and washed them off. "And now you're mine, young Zane. More mine than you ever belonged to any of the Kindred. Mine for all eternity," the fallen angel crowed.

The sun was approaching the horizon, about to birth a new day. Max lay sprawled, naked, across his bed sipping a glass of champagne as he waited for his new toy to come home and get his reward.

The task had been almost absurdly simple. While the girl, Wendy, had been a bit wary at first, Zane's natural and preternatural charm soon had her accompanying him out the back of the bar and into the alley there. Soon he had her limp body cradled in his arms as he licked the remnants of her blood from his lips and her pale throat.

It had been tasty, but compared to what he had earlier, it was as a cup of weak broth to a multi-course feast, and Zane was anxious for more of that decadence. Slinging the body over his shoulder, he eased through the streets, diverting the notice of the few people he passed with an ease that made him smile ferally. Power and beauty, he could have it all.

Sneaking into the loft Max had given him the address for was child's play, though the whole time he was there, Zane felt odd, uncomfortable. He would have liked to take longer in the artistic presentation of the body, but he had more pressing things on his mind.

Arranging the dead woman in a wanton sprawl on the bed, Zane folded one already stiffening arm over her head and placed the other on the bare skin of her stomach. Her eyes were closed, and at first glance, she looked as if she had fallen asleep while waiting for a lover to arrive. Perfect.

Giving the body a final once over, Zane spotted the necklace the girl wore. A simple chain with a rose pendant, it appealed to him, so he removed the necklace, tucking it away in a pocket of his duster. Gliding out of the apartment, Zane had only a minor regret that he wouldn't be there to hear what happened when the room's occupant discovered his lady-love.

The trip back to Maximilian's penthouse passed without incident, and Zane smiled when the guard on the first floor handed him a keycard after he identified himself. Tucking it into his pocket beside the necklace, Zane had to laugh. Now that he had been given official access to the other man's domicile, he could come and go as he pleased, no locks or bars could keep him out.

Gliding through the outer doors, the Toreador simply followed his senses to track down Maximilian. The Beast was rising up in him, demanding more of that wonderful tribute, and he knew it wouldn't be long before he had to give himself over to it or go insane. The young vampire opened the doors to the master bedroom and stood there, silhouetted by the light from the hall, his gaze riveted to the vision on the bed.

The Beast grew more insistent; incisor teeth elongated, eyes went flat silver and Zane's cock hardened against the tight confines of his leather pants. Reaching into the pocket of his duster, he pulled out the piece of jewelry, letting the chain dangle from his fingers even as he shrugged out of the heavy coat. He wasn't wearing a shirt, and even so, the air felt unnaturally warm against his skin.

"I brought you a gift in case you needed proof," he murmured, easing up onto the bed and dangling the chain in front of Max's face.

Max took the chain, studied it for a moment and then smiled. "So my Lucas is avenged now. A good start," Max murmured before tossing the chain aside to be destroyed later. "Come here, my dark beauty, come and get your reward," the fallen angel purred, spreading his legs a little wider, one hand trailing down his stomach to cup and caress his cock.

"Unless of course, you go against Toreador sensibility and don't swing both ways... then you'll have your reward, just not the bonus."

Zane's answer was to tear off his pants, the sound of the ripping leather loud in the room. His engorged cock sprang free, slapping against his flat stomach. "I appreciate beauty in whatever form it's offered," he rumbled, shifting over to kneel over Max's prone body on his hands and knees, his eyes moving from the man's face to the vein pulsing in his neck.

Rational thought ended then, and Zane sped into a blur of action. Catching Max's hips between his hands, he hoisted them upward, shoving into the human's ass at the same moment he buried his fangs in Max's neck and was lost in an eruption of power the kind he had never dreamed of.

Maximilian gasped and arced under the dual assault, loving the feel of fangs sinking into his carotid artery at the same time his rarely violated passage was taken with savage passion. He was torn between twin sensations, and his body caught fire and burst into an inferno of sensation. Oh yes, he'd chosen this one quite well indeed!

Over and over the young vampire slammed into his body, taking him with fury, and with each thrust he could feel the blood being drawn from his body, sending Maximilian crashing towards climax. When at last he began to feel lightheaded from blood loss, the ancient-souled fallen angel took hold of Zane's head with both hands and yanked him backwards hard. "Enough, Zane, you've had enough. Come, my beauty, come for me, in me. Seal the deal with your dead seed," the chief of the fallen angels cooed, all seduction and temptation to fall.

Zane snarled, snapping at the hands that had pulled him away from his feast, but they held on with iron strength, denying him. Licking at his teeth and lips to get the last bit of the addictive substance, the vampire continued his wild thrusts into Max's body.

It was as if he'd bitten into a generator, or a nuclear reactor; everything glowed, especially the man under him. Snapping back to himself, Zane became aware of the tight heat his erection was sheathed in and the muscular contractions pulsing around him. Throwing his head back, he howled, the force of his scream causing one of the windows overlooking the city to crack from top to bottom. Driving in one final time, he came, his fingernails ripping through the sheets and into the mattress below. The grip on his head eased, and Zane collapsed forward, tongue snaking out to lick at the wounds on Max's neck, closing them even as he cleaned the blood-stained skin.

"What are you?" he muttered, knowing he had caught a glimpse of it while feeding but unable to put the clues together.

"I am the man Caine fed on the first time he drank blood. I am the creature that birthed the Kindred. I was a foot soldier in an army that waged war with God Himself and lost, but since then I have become one of its generals. I am Maximilian, and I serve the Fallen One, the most beautiful of the heavenly host, who was cast down into Hell for his rebellion. I am a fallen angel, and I am eternal," Max replied quietly, stroking the Toreador's thick, soft hair.

"And I am your master now."

Falling as still as only one of the undead could, Zane stared down at Max. It was the truth, all of it. He could feel it, just as real as the thick, powerful blood thrumming through his veins.

Damned. Contrary to popular belief, vampires weren't destined for hell unless their own actions sent them there - and his just had. Blinking, he seemed to come alive again, his full lips splitting in a fang-flashing smile. If the price for being free of the confining rules of the Kindred was this man as his master, he would pay it. Even if he didn't want to go along with it, Zane knew he had a new drug - the fallen angel's blood - and he would do whatever it took to stay near the supply.

"You don't seem to mind," Maximilian purred as he stroked his hands along his newest acquisition's flanks. "I'm glad. I want you to be happy with me, Zane. Very happy," the angel confessed as he stroked Zane's lips, letting his thumb catch and tear on one of the incisors then smearing the blood first over the young man's lips and then his own.

Licking first his own lips, then Maximilian's, and finally the man's thumb, Zane sighed, the sound rumbling deep in his chest. "What's to mind? Keep me feeling like this and I'll do whatever you need."

He arched his hips, causing his now soft cock to slip from Maximilian's body. "So, that loft I left the girl - who lives there?"

"The good guys," Maximilian chuckled. "The soft, insipid creatures that I used to be like until I found a new way of doing things. I wouldn't recommend you try snacking on one of them. It would be like being under a magnifying glass at high noon. You'd be ash before you got more than a mouthful."

Rolling over, Max grabbed his champagne glass and swallowed quickly, falling back onto the pillows with a grin. "Mmmm - I feel lightheaded and woozy. You nearly drained me enough to cause me to black out... and then you would have kept feeding, and this mortal body would have died.

"I have limitations, Zane. This form can die given enough abuse, and if that happens, your protection vanishes. You may want to keep that in mind the next time you decide to gorge yourself on my blood," the angel pointed out with a quirk of his eyebrow.

Zane shifted them around so that he was sitting against the headboard, Max resting against his chest. He traced a finger down the side of the man's neck over and over, the movement hypnotic and soothing. He felt jittery, full of energy, able to do anything.

"I'll be more careful next time. That was just... Fuck." He leaned his head back against the wood, eyes closing for a moment. "And anyone tries to lay a hand on you, I'll rip 'em to shreds."

"Why do I think that I've gained my own Toreador bodyguard instead of a new bar owner?" Max chuckled, relaxing into the embrace of the young vampire. He could get used to this, the luxury of letting himself be cared for instead of caring for his people.

"I could get used to this, though. So feel free to protect me. When I ask for it. There are times that you can't be there ... people and things you can't protect me from. Places I need to go by myself and things I need to do by myself... but that can be sorted out later. For now, you seem to be a livewire put on hold. Anything I can do to exhaust you so that I can get some sleep?" Maximilian chuckled quietly.

"I don't know. I feel - shit. Like I could do anything. My head is full of music; I want to throw open your window and fly; I want to go thumb it in the face of the fucking Council; I want to..."

Unable to contain himself any longer, Zane eased himself out from behind Max and began to pace around the room, needing to work off some of the energy, but not wanting to lose the high. "If it wasn't so fucking close to sunrise I'd go out, but there's not enough time."

Pausing at the window, looking out at the slowly lightening sky, Zane growled. "Of course you could always fuck me. That combined with the day should put me out."

"I could do that," Maximilian agreed with a leer. He planned on taking Zane and taking him often. "Or you could open the box on the table, take out the guitar in it, and play something for me. I want to hear you sing, young Toreador; create a song and show me just how talented you really are."

If Zane hadn't already been bound to the fallen angel by blood, that request would have won him over. In the space of a blink, he was beside the table, flipping open the heavy brass catches and removing the sleek ebony instrument from its bed of scarlet velvet. Strumming a chord, Zane found the strings to be in tune and the tone to be full and rich, perfection in the form of liquid notes.

Carrying the guitar over to the bed, the vampire sat cross-legged across from Maximilian. He looked at the angel for a long moment, letting the music take form. When he started to play, the notes fell into place with the same ease the words came together. Pure grace, as smooth as a diver knifing through the water. It was a song of need; rough and sexual, on the edge of becoming dangerous but retaining its form by the slimmest of margins.

I feel your lips
I taste your skin
I need to know
I need to feel you from within
As your blood burns through my skin
I feel complete
I breathe you in
It's where you end and I begin
If only I could feel this forever
So much to tell you
So much to show you
So much to confide
Now I've been inside you

More than flesh
We are one
So why do I feel not a shred of guilt for what I've done
As your blood burns through my skin
I feel release
I breathe you in
It's where you end and I begin
If only I could feel this forever
So much to tell you
So much to give you
So much to confide
Now I've been inside you

Max let his eyes close and the lush, hedonistic music sweep over him. He'd always been on the cutting edge of music through the centuries, listening to the changes and advances in its evolution, but listening to this passionate young Toreador play, he felt the music for the first time since he too sang with the angels.

It washed over him, a tidal wave of sound and form, dark, dangerous, seductive, erotic. Zane's words were alive with his passion, the music absolutely perfect. A single tear flowed down the fallen angel's cheek at its beauty, and for a brief moment he glimpsed once more the heavenly host, their voices raised in song.

When the last chords died away, Maximilian opened glittering green eyes. "Lillie chose well when she Embraced you. Yours is a gift that should never die, my beautiful one," he husked softly. "Oh, you are dangerous, Zane of the Toreador Clan. More dangerous than anything has ever been to me. I could come to adore you."

Zane smiled, the expression breaking across his face in slow motion, reaching his dark, slumberous eyes last. "You've addicted me to you; I think I should be given the same opportunity, especially considering the fact that you inspire me, Maximilian."

Rising, he set the guitar back in the case and moved back toward the bed, totally unselfconscious in his nudity. "And you were right; that did wear me out." Looking back toward the window, the Kindred was amazed to see that the sun was already quite a ways above the horizon. He'd never been able to resist the call of sleep for so long, and even now, while he could feel the urge, it wasn't a necessity. While sliding down on the satin sheets next to the angel, Zane pondered what other benefits of this partnership he would discover as time went on.

"Good. Then we both can sleep. I have a feeling that night will bring new challenges. And that Gregory and his mewling brats will be feeling particularly unhappy. Poor Nathan. In love with a heroin-addicted whore who ends up dead in his bed. He and Sara really shouldn't have taken Lucas away from me. Bad things happen when I lose one of mine," Max grinned savagely.

Shaking off the mood, he wrapped his arms around the cold body of his vampiric paramour and pulled Zane closer to him. "Sleep, lovely one, and tonight you begin your new life at my side. As it was meant to be."


  since 02-04-07


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