DIS: I'm happy to announce the follow-up of Rings. (sigh) I love Anne Bishop's books. They rock my socks off, lol.
Rating: T for language
Summary: Sequel to Rings. Jared and Lia join Daemon and Jaenelle for Winsol, along with two other guests that Jared wasn't eager to meet. One shot.
Disclaimer: I do not own Anne Bishop's beautiful characters. I own the ideas for this story and Rings, though!
Notes/Warnings: Crossover of Dreams Made Flesh and The Invisible Ring; sequel to Rings; holiday fic; implied Lucivar/Surreal
Jared inhaled a soft breath of the present winter. The gardens were covered with the gentle, white substance that had fallen from the sky. Although he could no longer see the beauty that had bloomed in the spring and summer, there was no doubt that the gardens were lovely at this time of the year as well. He knew how Lia was about the winter and suspected she was cursing the Darkness for her ruined gardens. He chose not to deal with that, having learned by this time that it was better to simply let her rant.
A coaxing brush touched his brain, warning him of the upcoming voice that would enter his mind. Jared glanced around, as though the holder of the dark power that was twining around him would appear. Seeing that the man in speaking was no where to be seen, Jared assumed that he was safe from having to speak face-to-face with him.
Two seasons ago, Jared and his Queen had visited the Queen of Kaeleer, the idea having been Lia's. After a fairly long amount of time, Jared had spoken to Daemon Sadi and in an utmost serious conversation. Despite the issues he had gone through before seeing the Sadist again and careful to use balls and sass with anyone other than Lia and his close friends, Jared had felt like the weak, naïve young man he had been when he first met Daemon and was being taught by him. Perhaps it was because Daemon had taught him such things that he transformed from confident male to a "puppy," as the latter was fond of calling him.
There was also the fact that Jared had seen Daemon act towards the Queens in the court, had seen and heard what he could do to him. He had felt the power of the Black Jewel before, knew how much it could overwhelm him. While he respected him deeply, it was only common sense that Jared fear him, as well. After all, he was the Sadist, no matter who he was married to or what he now did. That personality still lurked inside of him, just beneath the surface.
Warlord, Daemon's voice purred to Jared on a Red communication thread. The hairs on the nape of Jared's neck stood up and he shivered a bit, although not from the cold. Wetting his lips nervously, Jared started towards a bench and wiped it off, not caring if his butt was damp afterward. He needed to sit and stall while he calmed himself.
Prince, Jared responded in what he hoped wasn't a tense voice. He had no intention of being Daemon's amusement of the day. To what do I bring the pleasure of your call, Sadi? Daemon's soft laughter floated back to him in answer and he stiffened, his eyes darting around, glad that the Warlord Prince couldn't see his discomfort. He could hide his emotions fairly well, but with Daemon, nothing was ever as easy as it was with others.
Winsol is in two days. Usually, Jaenelle and I go to SaDiablo Hall and celebrate it with all of our friends and family. As it happens, Jaenelle is inclined towards a quieter Winsol. She wishes for me to invite you and your lady to our home in Amdarh to celebrate it with us. Daemon's voice was filled with wry humor, as though there was a joke behind what he had said. Jared frowned, considering over his words. It was almost too convenient that Lia had been mumbling about wanting to do something different this year and that Jaenelle Angelline was also hunting to do so as well.
Is that right? Jared finally asked, his tone cool and wary. Daemon chortled at the question and how it was presented. I'm sure that Lia will be thrilled, but I have an idea that she already has plans for us to be joining you both, am I not correct?
You are correct, puppy. My lady didn't wish for you to be forced to come and be in an ill mood. Jared snorted in response. He doubted that even if he had no desire to join them for Winsol that he would win that argument with Lia, knowing her famous stubborn streak. He vaguely wondered whose idea out of the two women it was for the couples to meet for Winsol. Amused, Daemon added, It will be a pleasure to speak with you again. May the Darkness be with you, Warlord.
Grudgingly, Jared replied in an aggravated voice, And you, Prince.
Hell's fire, Mother Night, and may the Darkness be merciful...He was going to be celebrating Winsol with Daemon Sadi. He clasped his hands and bent down, pressing his lips to them, glaring down at the ground as he repeated the oath, "Hell's fire," in his head, hoping that Daemon or Lia's voice would come to him and say, "It was all a joke, I'm not serious, Jared," even though he knew very well that there was no escaping the inevitable. Maybe... Jared sighed. No, Lia's grandmother would rather shave me than help me, the horrid woman...
Jared huddled in the Craft-drawn carriage that swayed through Dhemlan, towards Amdarh, the warming spell around the carriage enough to keep the coolness of winter from him. Lia seemed almost too eager, her eyes bright and her cheeks flushed. He wanted to believe that his wife was the kind of woman that was meek and docile and that if he said they were going to spend Winsol away from blasted Daemon Sadi, then she would obey him. However, as he was not as lucky, and had fallen in love with a stubborn spit-fire of a woman, Jared dismissed the words from his mind, especially with how they were worded.
True, Jared didn't necessarily mind Daemon Sadi (he had become less frightening since he married,) but there was something in the back of his mind that was reacting that flee instinct every human being had. Usually, when there was a message in the back of his mind, it was for a good reason. In the particular instance, he couldn't "flee" as his mind bade him to do. Why do I feel that there isn't any way out either way? Jared pondered idly as they entered Amdarh, Dhemlan's capital city. "Lia, perhaps we ought to go back. I'm feeling uneasy about this brilliant idea of yours and Lady Angelline's..." His wife shot him a dirty look that had him sighing quietly through his nostrils.
"Don't be ridiculous. Daemon even agreed that it would be a good idea for us to get together." She paused, smoothing her gaze down his body, one of her eyebrows rising in challenge. "If you find it so disagreeable, why did you agree to it?" Jared chose not to reply, knowing full well that she knew why he had agreed to. "If you had a problem with it, you should have told Daemon." There was a slight gleam of humor in her gray eyes that had him seething inwardly. Calming his anger, he jerked his head towards the window, stubbornly refusing to rise to the bait she had set out for him.
It's Winsol, he consoled himself. I'm not about to fight with my wife about something so petty – even if she is goading me.
The carriage continued to roll down the street, weaving through the busy traffic and bodies of the city, working ideally on Craft. When at last they arrived before Daemon and Jaenelle's dwellings, Jared stopped the carriage and withdrew the Craft and warming spell from the carriage. He stepped out of the vehicle and moved around to help Lia out. She beamed up at him and he inwardly sighed. He couldn't stay irritated at her long, especially when she was so obliviously happy to be there. They ascended the steps and before they were even given a chance to knock on the door, Helton swung it open and inclined his head respectfully to them. "My lord and lady," he rumbled in a neutral voice, ushering them in.
Jared glanced sparingly at Helton as the man took their cloaks. With his hands tucked in his pockets, Jared followed the man and Lia through towards the den. Daemon lounged comfortably by the fireplace, drinking from a wineglass. He didn't so much as turn when Helton announced, "Lord Jared and Lady Arabella Ardelia." Jaenelle, on the other hand, rose to her feet and swept towards Lia, affectionately taking her hands and kissing her on both cheeks. Jared's mouth tilted up wryly, only slightly surprised that his wife and Jaenelle were such close friends. He had suspected there was something out of the ordinary about her "shopping trips" in Dhemlan.
"Lord Jared," Jaenelle greeted belatedly, raising her hands. He placed his beneath hers, mumbling a low greeting. Her smile was small, but not sharp by his lack of proper respect. In fact, it seemed to encourage her to take his hands in the very manner that she had done to Lia. That brought both Jared and Daemon's attention into focus. "Let us sit. Dinner will be awhile." She and Lia took a seat on one side of the room while Jared was forced to sit across from them, near Daemon and the fireplace.
Daemon's eyes wandered to the door and he sighed, murmuring, "Three...two...one..." On 'one,' they could hear a knock on the door that had Daemon giving a roll of his eyes. Jared stiffened, sensing an Ebon-Gray Jewel and a Gray Jewel. Thoughtfully, he considered going under the couch, if only to avert Lucivar Yaslana's attention for a moment. Alas, Jared knew that would only lower himself in the walking, talking, living bad mood's eyes. "Surreal and Lucivar are here," Daemon remarked to no one in particular, fixing his amused gaze to Jared.
"I think I'd like a glass of wine, Sadi," was all Jared said in response to the look. Laughing, Daemon raised a hand and a glass and the wine bottle came floating over to him. He poured the crimson wine into the glass and levitated it to Jared, who took it and drank generously to calm his jumping nerves. He wasn't prepared to meet Daemon's brother, the prince and lord of Ebon Rih.
"Lord Lucivar Yaslana and Lady Surreal SaDiablo," Helton announced, backing away a step so that the two characters could enter. Jared glanced at them through the corner of his eye, thanking the Darkness that he was trained in keeping his face and body language neutral. Inwardly, he was turning the last name of SaDiablo in his mind, letting it sink in and bury it's tentacles in every crevice of his mind.
"Mother Night," he muttered into his wine as he drank the last of it. Daemon smiled pleasantly and poured him more wine as his brother and sister in name loped into the room, standing instead of sitting. Lucivar's eyes locked onto Jared and he wished, not for the first time in his life, that he could wither away to nothing. "Mother Night," he repeated under his breath.
"May I introduce," Daemon drawled, "Lady Arabella Ardelia, the Queen of Dena Nehele and her husband and Consort, Lord Jared." Lucivar turned his gaze from Jared and went to Lia, respectfully sliding his hands under hers, Surreal mimicking the gesture. To Jared, they inclined their heads. "We weren't expecting to have guests, Lucivar."
"Undoubtedly," Lucivar responded with a baring of teeth. "As Saetan knew of your...decision to avoid our usual celebrations at SaDiablo Hall and chose not to tell anyone, Surreal and I came to the conclusion that we would come to you since you weren't coming to us." His smile was just as brutal as before, his eyes glinting in his tanned face.
"How charming," was all Daemon offered as a response. Instead of replying to his brother, he swept his hand out towards Jared, who had been sipping at his wine, half-heartedly hoping that they would forget he was there, even though he knew that was too much to ask the Darkness for. "This is a student and friend of mine. You two have much in common." Lucivar's amber eyes, so like Daemon's, burned into him.
You son of a whoring bitch! Jared cursed, glaring mutinously up at Daemon, who endured the silent rage with his usual silk-laden smile.
"Sugar, if you're going to start something," Surreal languidly suggested, "then you boys ought to leave this room. I doubt we want to see any waving of your cocks." Lucivar blinked while Daemon snickered. Jared glanced at the woman that had claimed the last name as the High Priest of the Hourglass, the only other Black Widow with the Black Jewels other than Daemon and perhaps second best to his son. Her pointed ears suggested that she was of the clan of the Dea al Mon. Having heard the rumors of a one Dea al Mon assassin, he shivered only slightly at the idea of getting on that female's bad side.
"Oh, trust me, lady," Jared growled as he stood and set the glass down on the table beside him, "there isn't going to be much waving going on." Perhaps it was natural Warlord arrogance that had blown up inside of him; he suspected it was stupidity. The wine, as strong as it had been and as fast as he had drunk it, had caused a light fuzz in his brain. Standing up to Lucivar Yaslana was the last thing he would want to do when he was in a saner set of mind. After all, Yaslana had two more jewel ranks than Jared to boast of. Getting blown up because he provoked the bastard's temper wasn't on Jared's very short, almost nonexistent To-Do List. You poured the brandy, lad, now drink it, Jared reminded himself.
Daemon gracefully led his fired-up brother and his arrogant, brainless guest into the drawing room, shutting the doors quietly, unnecessarily with his own hands. When he turned back, Lucivar and Jared, who were at about the same height, appeared to be trying to stare each other down. That suited Daemon fine. It would save the furnishings from any damage. Then Jared grimaced and looked away, snorting as he said, "I have no rift with you, Yaslana."
"If I remember correctly," Lucivar slowly answered in a flat tone, "I glimpsed you in the spring after you left here. Am I right?"
"You are," Jared bit out, turning an almost sneering look to him. Damn it, this isn't the time for being an arrogant prick! He raged at himself. The man just asked a question. What the hell is your problem? Of course, the question was a stupid one since Jared knew very well what his problem was. Like all men, and he had no doubt that Daemon was one of the worse ones, he was acting like a jackass because an unfamiliar male was around his Queen – his wife, nonetheless. Hastily reassuring the beast inside him that Yaslana wasn't around to steal Lia from him, he rearranged his features to one of cold neutrality. He couldn't lose with that.
Acknowledging Jared's struggle to relay a calm, even peaceable expression, Lucivar shifted his stance to one that was less threatening, tucking his massive wings behind his back so that they were aligned with his body. "So." He drew his gaze over Jared's otherwise taut body and let a slow, malicious smile curl his lips upward. The male was easy to provoke. He simply didn't blow up as quickly as Lucivar did. Based on the cold, masked fury in Jared's eyes, Lucivar suspected that Daemon had taught him his famous balls and sass of Court. "How do you suppose we are similar, Lord Jared?"
"Hmm," Jared made a sound that implied false concentration. "Well. I'm a prick, how about you?" Lucivar's evil smile turned into an amused smirk.
"The very same."
"Anyone," Daemon remarked smoothly, "could see that from this little interaction of yours." One of his eyebrows rose mildly, the smile he held on his mouth clearly stating that he had known how things would go along the entire time. Lucivar snarled at him in an almost affectionate manner while Jared fixed a cold, seething glare on him. He would have thrown an even nastier comment to the Sadist, but wasn't in the mood to have his death day be on Winsol.
Rather belatedly, Jared's eyes caught the glint of Lucivar's wedding ring and the Eyrien noticed and seemed irritated that he was looking at it. Daemon also took note of this and his golden eyes narrowed dangerously on his younger brother, unnerving both males. Jared edged away cautiously, not wanting to be in the middle of any strife between them. As he looked closer, Jared noticed that the ring looked like it had been through some battles with its owner and that Lucivar seemed uncomfortable wearing it.
"I regret to ask this in front of the Warlord you just met, Lucivar, but mind telling me why you are not celebrating Winsol with Marian, but with Surreal instead?" Daemon queried in a seductively cold tone of voice. Lucivar stared defiantly at Daemon and if they were discussing something on the Ebon-Gray communication thread, Daemon seemed not to be listening because he ruthlessly added, "Although I have an idea of why." He paused for the briefest instant. "What are you thinking, Lucivar?" The softness of his voice caused a trickle of dread to seep down Jared's back. He knew then that he would have to use Daemon's own trick against him so as to save Lucivar's ass this one time.
Not that I actually want to, he admitted silently. He smoothed his face into the mask he had used on Lucivar after he had controlled his temper. Before Daemon was given a chance to reach his brother, Jared stepped between them, raising his eyes to Daemon's in a searing, commanding gaze. He was nervous about the utter frostiness of Sadi's eyes, not to mention face, but didn't back down. "Prince," he drawled in a casual tone that shadowed his honest emotions. "It is Winsol. Is this not supposed to be a day of happiness, of joyous reunion and celebration of Witch?" He heard behind him Lucivar sucking in a quick breath. The mentioning of Witch was perhaps what got through to the latter. He kept his dark gaze locked with Jared's emerald eyes before the ice thawed and he looked more like his calm self.
"Indeed, Warlord." he purred in concurrence. "Today we should avoid conflict so we may celebrate Witch." He inclined his head to his two guests, extending a hand towards the doors. They slid open and he turned from them with a soft smile, exiting the room before them. Lucivar let his breath out through his teeth, tugging at his wedding band agitatedly.
"So...Surreal is your mistress?" Jared assumed, dragging a hand through his hair in relief.
"I have my reasons," Lucivar bit out, warning him that the topic was not one that should be breached. Jared held up a hand to ward off any other harsh words and Lucivar froze, his eyes staring long and hard at the Consort ring and wedding band on his hand. Uncomfortable with the intensity of his gaze, Jared lowered his hand and stuffed it in one of his pockets, gesturing with the other, bare hand.
"Shall we, Prince?" Jared murmured, nodding towards the doorway. The latter echoed the gesture, following him through the doors, flicking his wrist to close them. As they entered, the three women looked up, Surreal with a mild expression on her face, clearly unbothered by the issue that she and Lucivar were faced with – for she certainly could not miss Daemon's suppressed temper.
"Jared?" Lia queried. "Join me?" She smiled and patted the seat beside her. Jaenelle was standing silently beside Daemon at the fireplace, her hand gently massaging his arm, clearly able to sense his distress at his brother's actions.
It doesn't involve me, Jared told himself resolutely as he took a seat next to his wife. She cuddled up to him and he sighed, bringing an arm around her as Lucivar and Surreal stood a few feet from the divan he was seated on, not speaking or even looking at each other. Jared didn't know who Marian, Lucivar's wife, was, but he found that the Eyrien and Dea al Mon seemed to suit each other with their harsh, assassin qualities. The way they stood side-by-side, their backs erect and their eyes lit with alertness was too alike that he could not think differently. I shouldn't even be dwelling on it, he scolded himself. What happens is what happens, damn it.
Sadly, though, Jared knew that things weren't that simple in his life.
Jared paused as Lucivar approached him after he had handed Lia in the carriage. The feathers of the Eyrien's wings ruffled lightly in the cool wind, but he didn't seem cold in the least. With a curt nod, Lucivar stated, "Daemon is right."
"...Is that right?" He mumbled quietly, fixing his eyes on the other male. A smile touched Lucivar's mouth.
"Yes. We have much in common." He inclined his head respectfully to Jared and the latter hesitated before bowing at just the right degree that a Red-Jeweled Warlord would to an Ebon-Gray Warlord Prince. Jared stepped up into the carriage after that, watching as Lucivar returned to Surreal, grabbed her and vaulted into the air gracefully. Sighing, he leaned against the cushions while Lia rested her head on his shoulder, weary.
I shouldn't feel obligated to get involved, Jared mused as he closed his eyes, but I know that that's exactly what's going to happen.
DIS: Yet again, I leave you hanging. There will be a final one shot sequel to this one with Jared getting involved in the family mess of Lucivar's. He will even get to meet Saetan! Hehehe, that will be fun writing. Tell me how you liked it and if I kept them in character. I'm really trying to keep Lucivar and Daemon from going out of character. Ciao!