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Dead is the New Alive

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Lykouleon was the only one who trusted the Dragon Knight of Wind. He told him so, cheerfully, though thankfully in private. If the young lord had spoken up in public with some tiresome attempt to cease the dark looks and ill whispers, Nadil would have hated him. As things were, he found Lykouleon annoying at best, but just smart enough to have a bit of discretion. He was sneaky like that, moreso than most of the Dragon Tribe, but that wasn't remarkable. They were a foolishly open lot. Nadil was well aware of what they thought about him and the dark prophecy that shadowed his future. 'Keep that one close, or he will betray,' they advised Lykouleon. 'He was a demon once, and will become one again.' How one reversed the process, nobody knew. Sometimes Nadil found himself wishing he could, just to get away.

He wasn't attached to being a Knight. He'd agreed because it was better than being nobody, but power from a dragon was boring. He would rather make his power his own. Still, Wind was the only thing in the entire castle that didn't irritate him, and it was obedient – he liked that. It stayed quiet on his shoulder, draped languid around his neck, and hardly blinked at anyone else. But when Nadil commanded it, its furious gale was every inch as ruthless and violent as he intended. He didn't care that he slew countless numbers of the clan he used to belong to, not when they were weak. If he was going to become a demon again as was foretold, he'd be powerful. That much he was certain of.

"How would you even do that?" Lykouleon asked him one day while they ditched a lesson together. The Dragon Lord knew all the secret routes and hidden areas, and he never told so much as he showed Nadil where they were. "It's not like we keep books on that sort of thing."

"You think there are books though? How to become a demon?" They were both seated on the floor of an empty room in the castle. There was no door to the place, only a sliding panel in one of the walls that connected to a secret tunnel. There was a narrow window though, letting in fresh air and a slice of sunlight.

Lykouleon was sitting directly in that beam now that the sun had shifted slightly. His golden hair gleamed and he was surrounded suddenly by his own brilliance. "Of course! There are books on all manner of things that aren't strictly approved of, like making demons. We don't have a copy though, I checked." His smile was sheepish, admitting, "I was curious."

Lykouleon was always curious, and Nadil knew it was going to get him in trouble if it hadn't already. He thought he might be looking forward to that day. Boldly, he invaded that patch of sunlight and grabbed the front of Lykouleon's tunic, pushing until his back was to the wall. His arms came up, inviting, but Nadil pinned them instead, just to feel him struggle. It was always a contest to see who would give in first – if Nadil would let him go or if Lykouleon would stop resisting. They'd be an even match if they were to ever seriously fight it out, disregarding the consequences. Lykouleon surrendered more often than not, as he did now, but not without a frustrated sigh. He was the careful one, perhaps sensing that Nadil would go so far as to actually fight him if given the chance. If he was smart, he'd be aware of where the game ended and something else began.

But for now, it remained a game. Nadil claimed his victory with a kiss, hands still gripping hard enough to bruise. Lykouleon responded in waves, eager and then reluctant, soaking up the contact and resenting his powerlessness. He was altogether too kind, but proud enough to feel the weight of his small sacrifices. Nadil wouldn't be surprised if he collapsed under that weight.

He dragged his tongue across a sharp dragon fang, flirting with the point before cutting himself with its edge. Lykouleon's eyes went wide with alarm and he stiffened in shock. Nadil almost laughed as he pulled away, gaze drawn to the trickle of red at Lykouleon's mouth. "How does it taste?" His own mouth was full of copper, and the sting was not unpleasant. He pressed a kiss to the other's throat, leaving a wet, crimson mark right along the beat of his pulse.

"Nadil... Nadil." Lykouleon's voice wavered uncertainly the first time, but was sure the second. His lips were parted and his face tilted up. Nadil indulged him and lowered his mouth again.

That's right, he thought as Lykouleon tasted the wound, I'm not afraid of blood. Not mine, and not yours. I'll make you bleed one day yet.

 

*****

 

He'd always known Lykouleon would be a sight to behold when slowly, steadily bleeding. Nadil allowed for a small sigh to convey his admiration of the thin, red streams that slicked the Dragon Lord's white skin. It took years, but it was worth it. Even the look of grudging trust that had always been present in his dreams was finally gone, replaced by glittering, emerald-eyed rage.

"You're looking well these days, Lykouleon."

The Dragon Lord struggled to stand, hand pressed to the unhealing wound Nadil had inflicted.

"Ah, perhaps not 'well', but might I say you still look stunning?" He'd intended to make this a casual visit, just for one look in private, but his air of nonchalance was quickly failing. He couldn't tear his eyes away.

"Why are you here?" Lykouleon demanded, throwing an arm out angrily even though it nearly unbalanced him. "Rath is gone, he went to seek you. As for me, I'm dying like you wanted." He raised a hand to his forehead as a wave of dizziness overcame him. Still, he spat out, "If you want to take Raseleane you can at least wait until I'm dead. Or I swear as long as I'm breathing, I will stop you."

"A pity," Nadil murmured, transfixed by the smear marring Lykouleon's lovely face. "I came only to see how beautiful you are with my work all over you. And what would you do in your state if I was here for your queen?" A smirk graced his sharp features. "Perhaps you'd bleed on me? My death would be as slow and painful as yours."

"How fitting. Shall we try it?"

The Demon Lord chuckled, stepping closer though he had no intent to comply. Once, he might have entertained the thought. He might have been tempted to gouge long, possessive slashes down Lykouleon's naked flesh while he claimed him. He might have thought about cutting cruel designs into his back while he slept beside him, stretched out like a white and gold sacrifice. He might have wanted to bite the tongue that lapped playfully at his mouth and let spill pointless, carefree endearments.

Nadil did not mean to die like lovers with Lykouleon, but he found himself dangerously close to the other man anyway. Lykouleon reached out and Nadil shoved him away, no challenge when the Dragon Lord was so pitifully weak. A blood-streaked hand steadied himself against the bed, sheets stained with crimson. There was a triumphant gleam in Lykouleon's eyes.

What's that for? I am not afraid of your damnable blood.

He could sense its loathsome poison from where he stood, but he stalked towards it nonetheless. His hand wrapped easily around Lykouleon's neck, squeezing mercilessly and pushing him down. Nadil shuddered, enveloped in the sickly-sweet scent of the Dragon Lord's blood.

"I won't be killed with just that," he told Lykouleon, easing the pressure on his throat just slightly when verdant eyes started to flutter shut. "It's annoying, but that's hardly new when it comes to you. If I rolled around in this bed with you for an hour, that would probably do it—" He narrowed his eyes. It was still not an entirely unwelcome thought.

Lykouleon's hands cradled Nadil's face, gentle because he had no strength to be otherwise, but the kiss he placed on his lips was like being run through with a sword. The touch of his tongue, his mouth moving in the shape of his name...

Then his teeth were tearing into Nadil's lip and the forgotten-but-familiar flood of copper returned him to his senses. He drew back with a faint smile. "Do you still love me?"

"No," he said, voice flat.

"Are you suffering?"

"Yes," he said, eyes closed.

"One of those is a lie."