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“I saw a vision, dear heart.” Walter pressed his palm to Roland’s naked chest, just above Roland’s heart—the only heart Walter could not stop with his magic, for it was the heart of his mate. “A vision of our future child.”

Roland trembled. A palpable rage sizzled through him, a barbed wire crackling with intensity, and Walter shuddered as it made Roland’s hips snap up, up and into Walter, rocking him as he knelt astride Roland. Walter dug his nails into Roland’s flesh and hissed, because yes, this was it. This was the moment he’d been waiting for since their last heat, the moment Roland finally broke and fucked him like nature intended. The moment Roland forgot to let his hatred curb his lust. Roland could be such a bore, sometimes, trapped in an illusory morality that did nothing but keep them both from what they wanted. But no longer.

This year’s heat had drawn them together, as always, and Roland had caved, as always, because how could an Alpha not cave to the mating call of his Omega? It simultaneously frustrated and delighted Walter that while his magic could not force Roland to succumb, the heat could—that simple evolution was what drove Roland to drop his precious gun and grapple at Walter’s clothes and bite Walter’s mouth. It galled Walter that the plain, uncomplicated brutality of natural selection could outdo his finer, more delicate machinations.

There was nothing delicate about how they fucked. Sweat-slippery and clothing half-undone, they ground against one another, Walter rising and falling upon Roland’s cock as Roland crushed Walter’s waist in a bruising grip and thrust up into him. Oh, how delicious the heat-madness was in Roland’s eyes, the animal blankness in them that so mirrored the beast within Walter, a slavering, starving, savage thing that yearned to rend and tear.

This, this was the only time Roland allowed himself to become Walter’s match, to lower himself to what Walter was, the wrath within Roland made molten by desire, leaving only his rough, honest edges—as rough and honest as his gun-callused hands—to scrape against Walter’s smoother, slicker skin. The more rabid their coupling became, the wetter Walter got, his juices pooling stickily around the base of Roland’s prick. Roland sweated and grunted and hated himself, hated, hated, hated, and that was what Walter loved most about him, that what Roland despised was his own inability to be gentle with his mate, his own misfortune in having a mate he could not be gentle with.

Who needed gentleness? This was so much better—raw and sweet and sickening, a lurch in the pit of the gut that felt like the lurch before the snap of the hangman’s rope. They were killing each other, remaking each other, taking each other, because for all that it was Roland’s cock inside Walter, it was Walter inside Roland’s mind, Walter’s sinuous body haunting the dark corners of Roland’s psyche in-between their heats, reminding Roland of who he belonged to no matter where Roland journeyed. No matter where he ran.

He could not escape Walter. Roland knew this, and the despair in his heat-hazy gaze was as beautiful as the despair of a man facing certain death.

Walter met that gaze and let the fire build. Roland groaned and convulsed, clawing at Walter as their pace increased, Roland’s thrusts turning vicious and jagged. Soon, Roland would roll them over and rut into Walter until he’d knotted Walter, and then they would lie there, panting, Roland for once unable to elude Walter’s words, Walter’s taunts, trapped by mere biology into listening, seething, loathing.

And so it happened. As it inevitably did.

“Our child,” Walter continued, gasping, even as his vision blurred with tears, because Roland’s knot hurt, huge and immovable and unyielding as it was. Roland was plastered against him and over him, a musky-scented weight that blotted out the sky, the world, and all the universes that still remained unconquered. “I dreamt that he would be the child to bring down the Tower. The offspring of a gunslinger and a sorcerer, powerful and noble.” Walter chuckled hoarsely. “I’ll train the nobility out of him, don’t worry.”

“You—” Roland bared his teeth against Walter’s throat, a threatening pressure as thrilling as it was dangerous. “I’ll never let you raise him.”

“And how will you manage that? Even if you do succeed in stealing him from me after he is born, what then? Will you hide him in some foreign world? Keystone, perhaps, populous as it is?”

Roland went silent.

“Ah, beloved. How predictable you are. Ever the savior. Fret not, our boy will find his way back to us in the end, regardless of how far you throw him or how desperately you drive him away. He will find his way back to me, his birth-giver, his blood-source, and there is little you can do about it. It is fate, dear heart. Did I not tell you that, when we first mated? You cannot fight fate.”

“Perhaps,” Roland rasped, “fate will fight us. Perhaps it will fight you, and your attempts to shape it.”

“Nothing can fight me and win.” Walter sought Roland’s lips in a kiss, smiling against Roland’s snarl. “Nothing.”