It had been 10 years since the last above-ground residence in Moscow had been abandoned to the Long Winter. Now the famous minarets of Red Square were glazed with ice and the population had retreated into climate controlled, subterranean arcologies. Where the living had abandoned the surface, however, the dead persisted.
In tenements and office buildings, behind storefronts and in empty corridors vampires gathered. The greatest damning of the undead since the Americas fell a hundred years ago and they had gathered on feast under the choking blanket of dust and shame.
Even their black prince had been loosed, his leash slipped at New York and not refastened until San Diego. He had glutted his every thwarted appetite, playing god and demon by turn and by whim.
All of it, every thoughtless kill and tainted kindness, had been witnessed by Liam. It had been a strange time. In the end, when the time came to herd his prince back onto his never-anchored prison, he’d been relieved. Not because of the atrocities he had seen, after all these centuries he was inured to the suffering of mortals, but because the world had waxed so alien in his absence.
He had been 20 and still warm when he had been recruited to captain the Caleuche, and her Majesty Queen Victoria hadn’t yet been the Famine Queen. The long centuries between had been spent on a pitching deck, with the prince’s whispers in his ears and promises of commutation ‘soon, so soon’ on the lips of every emissary the Queen had sent. In that time the world had changed beyond his ability to comprehend it, as alien he had felt more ghost than vampire.
After that, he didn’t ask anymore when he would be relieved of his duty. When her Sanguinity’s summons came, however, he knew his duty and, like everyone else, he answered. They had landed in Vladistock, the prince drugged as a tick and weighted with chains, and traveled overland in dark-windowed shuttles whose workings Liam tried not to think too much about.
Across from him the prince stirred, chain links clattering. He lifted his chin from his chest, the dim light glittering in his dark, tilted eyes.
‘My Mother is here,’ he said.
Once the Prince had been beautiful. Liam had been struck dumb the first time they met, enamored of the wan, dark youth with the liquid eyes. He had thought him a poet, he had thought him oppressed and ill-treated – he had been a starry-eyed fool. Now he knew the harsh line of his starveling cheekbones and that the dreams in those liquid eyes were terrible ones.
‘Her Sanguinity summoned you,’ Liam said. ‘She summoned us all.’
‘Do you think she will free you? Still?’
‘Would you miss me, my Irish boy, if she did?’
And still, after all this time, his voice was like velvet and hands in the dark. Liam averted his eyes, old shame and ever-present lust in his heart.
‘I am your loyal servant,’ he said stiffly.
It made the prince laugh, a sound like a mirror cracking. He wasn’t being cruel, the idea of loyalty was just a fine jest in whatever world his consciousness inhabited. His lips muttered over the word, making him chuckle each time.
‘She will never, but I would set you free, my Irish boy,’ the prince said as they glided into the red square. ‘For a kiss, with a kiss. I would do that.’
‘I would not ask you to defy your mother,’ Liam said.
The shuttles parked in the Red Square, in front of a great mausoleum that had been sealed under a protective dome. Snow piled high atop it, a mockery if the minarets, and it was frosted like old glass. It must have been an important man under all of that, but who was a gap in Liam’s understanding.
‘Lenin,’ the prince said, lolling his head against the window. ‘My mother knew him.’
‘She is a great woman.’
‘She is a monster. You are a monster,’ the prince said, his voice lilting. ‘We’re all monsters here. I would set you free with a kiss, my Irish boy, but you keep me trapped with one. Come then, kiss me before my mother gets here? Hurry, for I can feel her moving through the city.’
Liam swallowed and shifted, changing seats so he was next to the prince. The Caleuche didn’t need a captain, not really. The prince, though, he had needs that put him beyond the pale, even for monsters.
He freed the prince’s arms, the seals burning his fingers as he unlocked them, and tried so hard to dread the slow, underwater motion of hands reaching for his face. Long fingers slid through hair, twisting the pale red curls, and pulled him closer.
His kiss was sharp and painful, tearing at Liam’s throat. Heat ran through his cool blood and he moaned. Sliding from his hair the prince’s hands slid down his shoulders, sharp nails piercing his coat and his skin. One dipped between his thighs and twisted, barbed pleasure spasming through Liam’s cock and clenching his ass.
Sinner. The voice of his old priest hissed in his head, all spittle and offended eyes. It made Liam want to laugh, or cry. He was a monster, a murderer, a drinker of blood and it was this little indulgent sin that roused the miserable old ghost from where he lay?
Elegant hands rubbed his cock roughly through his trousers, squeezing his balls and grinding the heel of his hand against the root. Liam moaned, mewled, and clutched at the prince’s shoulders. The chains that wrapped his chest dug into him, bruising skin that would quickly heal. Cold lips worked at Liam’s neck, sucking at his skin and biting deeper…deeper.
He came with a shudder, his come wet on his thighs, and then it was just pain. It was only then that the prince’s cock hardened.
Once the prince had drunk him down to the dregs, he pushed Liam away. Sated, or as close as he came, there was something like sanity in the prince’s eyes. Liam knew better than to think it was though.
‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prince said, almost kindly. Then he smiled, showing his bloodied fangs. ‘One day I will kill you.’
Then her Sanguinity was there, all blood red silk and midnight skin against the frigid white of the surrounding snow. Her eyes touched on Liam and then away – regret, contempt? – so she could look at her son, her only get. The broken ruin that had ended her dark bloodline.
‘My son,’ she said, touching his face. ‘I’ll give you the stars.’