The twins lounged lazily on the couch, Trever laying on top of Kale, taking a bit of a break from their work. Orion watched them and then the others in the room. Kev had been convinced to let Alec play video games with him. The two of them were playing some sort of bloody game where they were trying to kill each other. It kept them occupied, which was the entire point. For while Kev had his uses, planning and plotting were not one of them And they needed to make sure he didn't go out hunting. As for Alec? A fledgling his age wouldn't survive the night in a strange city.

"You know," Lan said, looking up from the list of Masters coming to the party, "We haven't talked to Augustus yet."

"Augustus?" Kale asked. "Why him? Isn't he all mindfucked by Blake?"

Smiling Lan looked over at Orion. "Because our exalted leader could probably undo the mindfuck."

He looked over at Lan. "You are presuming that he wants it to be undone."

"From what we heard, Jean-Claude and Anita raped him in front of his people and the Cape Cod contingent," Trever said thoughtfully. "That would be utterly humiliating ... at least to us. And to be beholden to them would weaken his position with the other Masters."

"Especially if he ended up like a puppy." Kale glanced over at Alec as he said that. For about four years Alec lived as Orion's puppy, utterly devoted to him. Orion liked calling his human servants "puppy" because of the way they fawned over him and did what he wanted like an eager dog. The others adopted this term without even noticing they did. Orion found this amusing.

"Exactly." Lan smiled at this.

"It doesn't hurt to try. It would show good intentions and our willingness to help," Maddy added. She sat on the far side of the room, away from the two gamers. She didn't approve of the game, even if she understood the necessity of it.

Orion let his gaze wander as he considered the idea. It was a good one. And if anything it would give them information on exactly what the arduer could do. "Set up a meeting," he said finally. At those words, the twins rolled off the couch and walked off to the back room, Trever pulling out his cell phone. The meeting would be arranged quickly and within the next day.

"How would you like to play this, then?" Lan asked, sitting on the couch the twins had just vacated. "It's likely what Augustus knows, Anita will know. If only to gain her favor."

"I think we should keep up the confusion," Kale said as he came back in, Trever following him. They sat at the table, flicking open their laptops to search for a hook to bring Augustus to them. Never show your hand, Orion learned over the years.

"And we could always add one more twist," Lan added. He looked over to Alec and Kev. "Alec, come here."

"But I'm winning!"


Grudgingly Alec walked over to Lan, giving him the stink eye. He sat down at Lan's feet like a puppet whose strings got cut and gazed up at him. "Yes, sir?" Orion hid a smile at that. He trained Alec very well as his puppy and still stuck. He thought it nice to have such an obedient fledgling. Even if said fledgling was completely nuts.

Lan reached down and stroked Alec's hair. "Do you remember being Orion's puppy?"

Alec's eyes flickered to Orion, and he could see just beneath the surface of his look that longing to be his puppy again. The hint of worship in his eyes. Orion had been his god. His life. His reason for living. It would go away eventually, as he matured. But for now, it lingered like a gnawing hunger.


"Do you think you could do it again, when we have Augustine over?"

"Yes," he said without hesitation.

Smiling, Lan looked at Orion triumphantly. "See?" Orion smiled back, just a quirk of the lips. Yes, he did see. And he liked it very much.

Hostile Takeover
At the Ball ~ Fan Fiction ~ Playing With Puppies