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In Pursuit of Dragons

Chapter Text

The mid afternoon sun was warm. It shone down on the crystal clear stream as it bubbled down its path. Its rays feeding the earth, nurturing plants and crops.

And the sun smiled on and warmed the scales of a baby Red Dragon as he slept in the most perfect spot along the bank. He had started out curled up nose to tail, but had since sprawled on his back. His big, round tummy was exposed as his back legs fell open and his front legs stuck straight up in the air.

He slowly woke up and his mouth felt dry from hanging open while he had his nap. He felt the happy sun on him and smiled back at it. His smile was full of gaps and was a little lopsided because he had a mix of baby and big dragon teeth, he didn't think the sun would mind.

He reached up to scratch his left horn. Mina had said hers were itchy when they were growing in too, but that didn't make it any better. She wasn't a full grown up yet, but she did have all her big dragon teeth, so that had to mean she knew for real.

“Rise and shine Eijiro!” There was Mina now!

Eijiro rolled to his side and got to his feet. He padded his too big feet over to his sister and gave her his brightest smile.

Eijiro was a happy baby, which some may have considered strange given that he was a Red dragon. Those were the fire dragons. Reds, while having immense power, were reputed as being mean, greedy, and very unfriendly. Eijiro did not want to be any of those things.

He wanted to be more like Sero, the Silver dragon. Sero was like Mina in that he had all his big dragon teeth too, but he was not quite an adult dragon either. He used to live on the same mountain as Eijiro. Many battles raged between Silvers and Reds, leaving them hard pressed to get along, but when hunters swarmed their mountain home, Sero could not leave a new and orphaned hatchling alone to die. Even if he was already the size of a puppy. Being newly hatched, his parents were supposed to keep the fire that the egg was in going, so it could harden his little scales. But his parents were gone, the fire was out, and Eijiro’s scales were still tender.

Tiny, days old Eijiro waddled down the mountain after Sero. He tripped a lot and scraped his little face on some of the rocks, but Sero made sure he stayed quiet like a big, brave dragon and did not give their location away. His chin healed quickly, but he cut above his eye really bad on a razor sharp rock. It left a scar and Sero assured him he looked big and tough because of it.

When they got to the base of the mountain, Sero had tried his best to find food for Eijiro but he was still losing his baby teeth himself so he did not know what he was doing.

Then Sero found a pretty girl dragon a few months older than himself. As an Amethyst dragon, she thought Silvers were foolish and hated Reds with a passion, but after witnessing Eijiro’s sunny disposition - and Sero appealing to her needs as a natural born leader - she took both of them under her wing.

Mina had been much more competent, as expected given that she was older. She didn't have parents either but she had been surviving on her own for a little while. Mina was so smart. She even knew Reds needed fire to harden their scales. The two of them were making sure Eijiro was the best baby dragon he could be.

The trio traveled together for a while, unable to stay in one location too long in order to avoid hunters and to stay out of the territory of other dragons.

Along the way, they collected Denki, a Crystal dragon far from home that was in between Sero and Eijiro’s age. He had been left for dead by humans, the membranes of his wings torn off. It looked as though Denki would never fly again. Eijiro was far too young to understand the implications of that, but for now he enjoyed it. He couldn't fly either. He had wings, but they were too small and he was too round.

But of course, just because he could not fly properly did not mean that he would turn down a good adventure. Denki told him that when he woke up from his nap, he would have a plan for something fun to do. Eijiro had a hard time falling asleep he was so excited, but eventually he did.

Mina gave him his wake up snack like she always did. It was lizards this time, and Eijiro used his flames to toast them before swallowing them whole. He could only make tiny puffs of fire at a time, so it took him a few moments to get them nice and charred. He set some of the grass on fire too, but Sero had taught him to stamp it out right away.

Eijiro burped as he finished his lizards, a tiny flame escaping and landing on the grass. He jumped on it.

“Stomp! Stomp! Stomp!” He yelled as he put out the embers. With a proud smile he scampered over to Denki.

Eijiro loved Denki the most out of their odd little group, which Mina said was called a Thunder. He was the most fun, always coming up with fun tricks to play. Mina got tired of those tricks though, and often threatened to kick Denki out of their ragtag Thunder of misfits. At first Eijiro did not understand that she was playing around and cried, begging her not to send him away. But now that he was becoming a big dragon, he understood that she was not serious.

Although Denki's latest prank may make her become serious about it. The more he whispered in Eijiro’s ear, the wider those red eyes got.

“Can I really do that?” Eijiro whispered excitedly. Denki's eyes twinkled as he nodded. They both looked over at Mina who was rolling her eyes at something Sero had said. Eijiro always found her eyes interesting. Where his were white with red colouring, hers were black with gold colouring.

When those eyes had turned away from him, Eijiro tiptoed into the bushes. He scampered away in the direction Denki had pointed him in.

Just outside of the forest in the small territory Mina and Sero had selected, giants were passing by on their way home to the Valley of the Giants, home of the defenders of Yuuei. Eijiro had never seen a giant before, but he had heard about them. They made the ground all rumbly when they walked.

Sero said giants were good guys that tried to save their home from the bad guys and had gone to the mountains to fight them off. Mina said they were unbeatable heroes that were friendly and wanted to help everyone. Denki said they had magic hair and if a dragon were to eat one, they would gain superpowers.

Eijiro tried his very best to fly over to where they were, but it was hard work! He wondered how big dragons did it. He had to take lots of breaks before he finally made it.

But there was a giant blocking his path!

Eijiro hid his face behind a rock, not knowing the rock was too small to hide his body. He peered around the rock.

The giant was sleeping. He had dark hair. That wasn't All Might. Everyone knew All Might had sunshine hair. This giant was wrapped up in a big blanket.

He looks like a calapillar! Eijiro thought. What he actually meant was a chrysalis, or a caterpillar's cocoon, but he always forgot that word. Can giants become butterflies? He hoped so! He liked making friends with butterflies.

Eijiro moved around the sleeping giant. His eyes got huge as he saw lots of giants all around. Some were sleeping, some eating, and some were just talking. Those must be the boring grownups. He didn't see any kids playing.

Eijiro tiptoed passed all the awake giants. He was so sneaky! No one saw him. Finally in the sunlight, he saw sunshine hair. The man was laying on his side in the grass.

He went around to face the giant who also seemed to be sleeping. Eijiro wiggled his bum and pounced on the sunshine hair that lay on the ground. He grabbed it with his teeth and tried to pull with all his might, but fell back onto his behind, hair still attached to All Might.

Eijiro thought and thought, and thought some more. He tried hitting the hair with a stick. He tried chewing on it, but he didn't have enough teeth. He should have asked Denki how to get it.

All Might opened his eye a crack and watched baby Eijiro try to think of a way to get the hair.

The blond giant rolled his other side, subtly shifted to pull out his knife. With minimal movement, he cut the front pieces his hair off.

Eijiro had squeaked and gone behind another too small rock when the giant moved. After seeing the giant wasn't waking, he scampered around to face All Might once more.

He grabbed the hair in his teeth again and tried to pull. This time they all came out! Eijiro trilled a happy “kiri" sound and then looked around to see if any giants heard him. He sagged with relief a little since no one noticed him.

Eijiro scooped up the hair in his mouth and trotted off proudly towards his Thunder, forgetting he was supposed to be super sneaky.

All Might sat up and gave a loud yawn and stretched. He reached up and found that his bangs were missing. He let out a loud gasp. He leapt to his feet and looked in the direction opposite of Eijiro, shielding his eyes from sun so that he might find the culprit.

“I AM HERE,” the giant boomed, “LOOKING FOR WHOEVER CUT MY HAIR!”

Eijiro’s eyes widened and he squealed, flapping his wings trying to get in the air to get away. His weight to wing ratio was no good causing him to drop frequently. He flapped extra hard to get back up into the air, the hair clamped tightly between his teeth.

He barely made it into the forest when Eijiro tumbled down to the ground. He didn't land very good and his foot slipped under him and he toppled over on the crest of a hill. Unable to stop, he rolled and rolled down the side of the hill and finally crashed into a clearing.

Eijiro got to his feet but swayed with dizziness. He shook his head a little to snap himself out of it. He heard a crack of a stick behind him. He tried to jump around to see who found him, but he tripped over his too big feet.

His face scraped across a rock, but it was okay because his scales were hard like a big dragon's now. He didn't get cuts anymore like he did when he was a baby.

He turned and saw a shirtless boy no more than seven or eight years old. He had wild blond hair and a sneer on his face. He held a wooden sword out in his hand.

Humans are bad, Denki's voice sounded in his head. They like to hurt dragons for no reason.

“Dragon!” he growled, sword pointed at Eijiro. The dragon squeaked and backed up until his back hit a tree trunk.

Realizing that Eijiro was scared, the boy lowered his sword and got so close Eijiro could smell the boy's lunch on his breath. His tummy rumbled. He liked lunch.

“Are you hungry?” the boy walked over to his pack and got a piece of dried meat. He offered it to the dragon. “Here.”

Tentatively Eijiro crept over. He dropped All Might’s hair and slowly took the food.

“I'm Katsuki.”

“Kiri!” Eijiro trilled.

“Kiri? Is that your name?”

It wasn't but that was the sound little Red dragons made, in the same way that a cat is not named Meow even though that is its noise.

Eijiro could understand Katsuki, but he couldn't talk back to him. His mouth couldn't make human words and that made him sad. All he could do was trill and make dragon words his new friend couldn't understand.

But if Eijiro could make friends with butterflies and the sun, then he could make friends with a human boy too.

The two played for a bit, chasing each other around and Katsuki even tried to wrestle Eijiro. He didn't do very well though.

Nevertheless the blond proposed a challenge. “Hey Kiri? If I we fight and I win, you have to be my dragon forever, okay?”

Eijiro’s heart soared like it was a big dragon. He was having so much fun and this boy wanted to play with him forever! This just proved Denki was wrong when he said all humans were bad.

“Kiri!” He trilled happily. Katsuki lifted his wooden sword and this time Eijiro knew he wasn't going to be hurt.

The two tussled, chasing each other around the clearing. Eijiro was chasing Katsuki when suddenly the blond whirled and ran at Eijiro with a yell, waving his sword.

The dragon screeched and bit down, snapping the sword in half. They both looked down at the broken toy in sadness. Eijiro moved to nudge Katsuki’s shoulder in apology, but paused and opened his mouth.

Two of his baby dragon teeth dropped into the grass.

“Whoa!” Katsuki’s eyes were huge. “Wow! Kiri can I have these?!” He picked the teeth up and looked at them. The little red dragon nodded and was rewarded with a hug around his neck.

Just then they heard the sound of people approaching. Katsuki’s eyes filled with panic.

“Run, Kiri! Hurry! You gotta go! Run!” He hissed.

Sensing his friend's panic, Eijiro ran as fast as his little legs could go. But his feet were too big for him so he tripped a lot. He had just gotten to the trees when he realized he forgot All Might’s hair!

He ran back and tried to pick it up, but the pieces weren't all together this time. Seeing what he was doing, Katsuki helped him collect the hair and put it in the dragon's mouth.

“Now go!” He whispered.

Eijiro had just gotten out of sight when he heard a grown up talk to his friend.

“Hello Katsuki. Who were you playing with?”

“No one. I was playing pretend and making voices.”

His voice got more and more faint as he headed back to his people, leading the grown up farther away from Kiri.

 

“Eijiro!” Mina ran to him the second she saw him. She held him tight to her and nuzzled him. He looked up at her as she licked across his face. Why was she so weird?

“WHERE WERE YOU?!” She shrieked, still holding him. “And what's in your mouth?”

Eijiro looked over to see Sero and Denki were hanging around like they were worried too. He opened his mouth and the hair fell out. “I cut off All Might’s hair!”

“WHAT?!” Mina whirled on Denki, teeth bared. “This is your fault!”

“I'm sorry, Mina. I didn't think he would get lost.” Denki was slouched.

“I didn't get lost! I was getting his hair. And playing with Kassuki!” The “ts" in his name was hard.

“Who is Kassuki?”

“A boy I met. He gave me food and said if he won our fight I would be his dragon forever! But I broke his sword by accident.”

“Eijiro,” Mina spoke carefully. “Is Kassuki a human?”

“Yep!”

Denki visibly flinched. Sero frowned at the Red dragon.

“We told you to stay away from humans, Eijiro.”

“I know, but-"

“No buts. They are dangerous! They want to hurt you.”

“No!” Eijiro’s eyes welled up with tears. “Kassuki is my friend.”

“Humans can't make friends. He was lying to you.”

Fat tears ran down his cheeks and he pushed Mina away. He ran to his bed and flopped down. He cried hard, his tears soaking the ribbons he had put there - the beginning of his own treasure hoard.

Why didn't Katsuki want to be friends with him? Why would he lie?

 

Meanwhile, some distance away, a certain blond haired boy had just gotten home.

“Mama! Mama!” Katsuki yelled as he ran into his home, a stone hovel with a thatched roof that was tucked safely at the edge of the woods. It had originally been a shepherd's hut, but had been abandoned some time ago.

The Bakugo Clan were nomadic people. As the highest ranking individuals, the Bakugos got possession of the hut while the other clan members set up tents in the surrounding area.

“Katsuki. What's got you so excited?”

“Look Mama!” His red eyes were shining with wonder. “I fought a dragon! And I got its teeth! There's still blood on them!” He opened his hand and revealed two dragon teeth.

Mitsuki picked up one of the teeth and looked it over. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him set his broken sword on the table. “These are real dragon teeth.”

“Tcch!” Katsuki rolled his eyes. He was not going to lie about something as honourable as winning dragon teeth from fighting one. “Can I put them on a necklace?” It was tradition in his Clan that warriors wore trophies of dragons they fought, be it teeth or nails, as jewelry.

“Yes. You clearly took them right from a dragon.” Her son cheered. He was a real warrior now! “Where did you see the dragon, Katsuki?”

“When I was playing.”

“Where?”

Katsuki’s eyes sharpened as he caught on. He may be young, but he was perceptive. His family were dragon hunters. They wanted to hunt his friend, even though his dad said they only hunted bad dragons.

“I won't let you hunt Kiri!”

“Kiri? Is that the dragon?”

Katsuki glared at her, refusing to say another word.

 

“Katsuki Bakugo, you tell me this instant!” She grabbed for his arm, but he bit down on her forearm. She hit him upside the head to make him loosen his bite.

She was no longer concerned about the dragon, but rather stopping the bleeding.

Katsuki bared his bloody teeth at her.

He would never tell her where to find Kiri. And when his Clan went looking, he silently vowed to sabotage their attempts.

Chapter Text

Katsuki Bakugo wiped the sweat from his brow onto the orange material that kept his leather vambraces from chafing. It was beginning to drip into his eyes and now was not the time for that. He followed through with the motion and his scimitar struck a nomu, a minor demon from the Netherworld.The country had been overrun with those foul things and Katsuki was tired of them. Instead of hunting problematic dragons as his Clan had done for generations, he was forced to battle endless hordes of nomu.

Dragons were becoming the preferred mounts of high ranking demons, and Clan Bakugo were Crown Sanctioned warriors who were renowned for their ability to slay any from the small Papers to the ginormous, ferocious Reds.

The number of dragons Clan Bakugo had slain since Katsuki had taken over as Lord - which admittedly was only a year and a half - was not as high as he would've liked with all the nomu around. He still had multiple necklaces with multiple teeth despite that.It was tradition in his clan to wear the teeth of slain dragons. Except for two teeth on Katsuki’s smallest necklace. Those were from a live dragon, though no one knew that. 

It was in pursuit of dragons that Katsuki led his warriors towards the mountains, where the Gates to the Netherworlds were. The Gates were a swirling vortex in between a couple of rocks from what Katsuki heard. Demons and nomu could pass through though no one had been able to cross over, nor had they been able to seal the rift.

Demons would pass through the Gates and find dragons before spreading terror across the country of Yuuei, targeting the giants in particular, the self proclaimed protectors of the land. But even the giants with all their size and strength hadn't been able destroy the Gates. 

When Katsuki was younger, he recalled the Clan crossing paths with the giants as they returned from another ineffective battle with the demons. They hadn't made it to the Gates to even try to close them. They had been overrun by demons and dragons before they retreated. They returned to the Draconian Ridge periodically, which was a large span of mountains now overrun by demons and nomu alike, in attempts to push the enemy's lines back. It became less and less as their numbers were being whittled away, yet they received no reinforcements from the Crown. 

The hopelessness of the giants’ plight caused a ripple effect across the land. The westernmost land of Yuuei that had begun to be settled was once again mostly wild. Smaller towns, particularly closer to the ridge, were abandoned. Most fled to the larger trade town of One Stone.

Despite the Draconian Ridge being known for its dragons, the Clan were met regularly by nomu and a company of demons ranked higher than nomu, but not high enough to have dragon steeds. They were more human than nomu, but were still mutated - typically looking as though they had been spliced with animals, such as horns, or quills. Either way, they fell easily.

Katsuki’s wrist was beginning to tire from all the slashing, even though his scimitar was made for one handed slashing. It suited his needs much better than a straight sword, particularly when on horseback. 

He lost track of how many enemies he took down, but the battle was nowhere near finished. That point was made clearer as a cry rang out from one of his men.

“DRAGON!” The warrior yelled as said beast cast a giant shadow over the field.

“That's more like it!” Katsuki grinned. There were always dragons around the mountains and Reds were drawn to bloodshed. If anything he was surprised it had taken this long for one to show up. His arm stuck out to the side with his fist up, holding back the volley of arrows his warriors were ready to shoot. The range wasn't good. It would be a waste of arrows and arrows that could kill dragons were expensive. Especially Reds, which this seemed to be.

His men shouted at him as the dragon got closer, but Katsuki held their fire and he wasn't sure why. It lowered its massive body into the center of the battle field and that was when Katsuki noticed there was no rider. No demon on its back meant this was a wild dragon. They were rare these days, as most had been taken to the dark side. A neutral Red, or as neutral as their kind could be, should be left alone, not slaughtered. 

Katsuki continued to hold their fire. 

The dragon was large, though he was only considered to be medium in size. He was about two Katsuki's in height. Clan Bakugo did not attack just like their Lord requested, but they did brace themselves for a fight. 

The dragon’s scales gleamed blood red in the sunlight as it stood to its full height. Both sides of the battle had stilled as they watched the beautiful, proud creature make its way across the battlefield, head held high. The men's necks craned to look at the dragon's face.

The ground shook slightly with each step of the one tonne creature, but Katsuki didn't back down. Scimitar in hand, he yelled for his men to stand down. He could take this beast down himself. A crazed smile split his face as he worked himself up to fight.

Katsuki looked up. And up. And up. The dragon lowered its head which was almost as big as Katsuki himself. Red eyes held each other's gaze and the dragon's nostrils flared. 

Katsuki was ready for anything. He had to be. Reds were notoriously unpredictable. It parted its mouth slightly, revealing all the dagger like teeth. It nudged Katsuki’s chin up to sniff at the dragon teeth around his neck. 

The red dragon's head pulled back in surprise, recognition shining in its eyes. It made a strange noise in its throat and coughed a little as though trying to make a sound it hadn't in a while. Katsuki wrinkled his nose and stood ready to move.

“Kiri!” It trilled. It pranced its feet a little, shaking the ground.

“Kiri?” Katsuki’s eyes widened as he touched the baby dragon teeth around his neck. “Kiri? Is that really you?”

“Kiri!” the dragon trilled happily and nudged Katsuki happily in the shoulder, knocking the warrior onto his behind out of sheer uncontrolled force. He didn't even feel the small rocks against his bare back. 

“You remember me? Katsuki.”

Katsuki reached up to towards the dragon's snout as Kiri sniffed him as if to confirm it was really him. It had been so long ago and Katsuki wasn't sure he still smelled the same, but clearly he was still recognized. As animals tended to do, the dragon lowered his head and his muzzle lingered at the front of Katsuki’s pants until the warrior pushed his head away. He got to his feet.

The battlefield was silent as they watched the warrior run his hand over the face of one of the most vicious and temperamental beings in the land. A being the Netherworld claimed was theirs. 

There was a slow creaking noise and the dragon's head whipped around, the wind from the movement causing some warriors to waver on their feet. 

Eijiro hardened his scales, causing them to darken in the areas closest to his skin. He took a step forward to shield Katsuki with his body as an arrow was fired by one of the lowly ranked demons. It bounced off the scales and landed harmlessly on the ground.Katsuki grabbed it to examine and laughed. As if regular arrows could bring down a Red. 

A volley was raised and the sky darkened as more arrows were fired upon them. Eijiro turned to face the attackers, nearly hitting Katsuki with his tail. The dragon let out a roar, and the warrior leader and his men took cover from the rain of arrows.

Even from a couple feet away, Katsuki could feel the air getting warmer, and the dragon's belly lightened, swirling oranges and reds amidst the deep yellow.

Eijiro opened his mouth again and fire shot out towards the nomu and demons, incinerating everything in its path. Screams filled the air as they were burned alive, though due to the heat of the red dragon's flame, it soon feel silent. The crackling fire continued to burn the grass. 

The Clan and their allies remained rooted in place, shocked over what they had seen unfold. They slowly turned to their leader. 

Katsuki was staring at Eijiro but shook himself out of it. “Put out the fires!” He ordered. “Don't let it spread!”

Eijiro looked sheepish and stamped out the nearest flame. He trotted around the field, helping the dragon hunters put out the fires he had made. The humans looked confused the entire time, having no idea how to react. 

They stacked the demons and nomu into a pile and Katsuki asked Eijiro if he could burn the bodies. The dragon immediately blew a little flame onto the pile. 

When he was younger, Katsuki had been sure Kiri understood him. Now he was even more sure. He saw how quickly the tide turned in battle having one dragon with them. Not to mention he helped clean up, which was more than some of his Clan did. 

Katsuki smacked Eijiro on what he could reach of his rump. The Red looked down at him.

“Hey you overgrown lizard! If we fight and I win, you have to be my dragon forever, okay?” 

Those words were the exact same Katsuki had said to him over ten years prior. The dragon's eyes lit up and he lowered his head, breathing into Katsuki’s face and he nudged the tooth necklace with a trill before nodding and standing to his full height.

The dragon hunters that heard the declaration crowded around to watch. Katsuki was a strong fighter, fast on his feet and his mind sharp.

But even he had never taken on a dragon singlehandedly like that before. 

Dragon hunters were always prepared. If they were going after a specific dragon, they may bring a pack with extra gear, but basic equipment was on them at all times regardless.

Katsuki immediately undid his belt, pulling it out of the loops. It was longer than it needed to be - in fact, Katsuki didn't need one at all. The belt doubled as a slip lead, effective for grabbing loose livestock, wrangling a rambunctious child or two, or clamping a dragon's muzzle shut.

Rope in hand, Katsuki scaled the dragon's side, his vambraces having hooks on the wrists. He had had a difficult time with them initially with the hooks getting caught on everything under the sun. But now they were a part of him. 

Being made from bear claws, they tore through some dragons, but in the case of Reds, it merely hooked into their scales and was more like climbing a mountain. 

Eijiro’s eyes rolled back to try and see where Katsuki had scaled up to. Feeling movement on his head, he figured that's where the man had gotten to. 

A mighty shake of his head had Katsuki losing his footing. He tumbled off the red muzzle and in a last ditch effort not to plummet a dozen or so feet to the ground, Katsuki hooked the looped end of the rope around the dragon's muzzle.

It kept him from falling, but Katsuki did slide down the rope slightly. He'd bitch about rope burn later when his adrenaline rush ended. Rope burn healed.

He swung on the rope and latched onto just below Eijiro's neck with the hooked claws. A slight puff of dragon’s breath had half the rope falling to the ground, one end singed.

“Stupid lizard,” Katsuki snapped before climbing back up his side. 

But as fast as he climbed, Eijiro was faster.

The dragon spread his wings and began to beat them faster and faster. Even though Katsuki was against Eijiro's body and therefore not getting the brunt of the wind, he was having a hard time keeping hold. 

Eijiro began putting distance between them and the ground, lifting them into the air.

Veins in Katsuki's arms began bulging as he strained to hold on. He was at a disadvantage as the hooks were on his forearms and there was nothing to grab his fingers onto. The red scales were too smooth. He couldn't climb because he couldn't risk removing a point of contact.

It didn't matter though. The intensity of the wind forced Katsuki lower and lower until the scales the hooks had attached to ripped off entirely, sending the blond crashing to the ground.

It wasn't a particularly far drop, but Katsuki hadn't wanted to let go, determined to withstand the gale force winds.

The impact of hitting the ground took the breath out of him. He gasped to take in more air but before he could, Eijiro was on top of him.

Sweat dripped down Katsuki's body as the heat from the dragon lingering over him was stifling. Eijiro leaned closer and opened his jaws wide.

Katsuki scrambled for a blade as razor sharp teeth got closer to his head.

The heat of Eijiro's mouth was terrifying and Katsuki could feel the tips of teeth closing down around his abdomen. 

Katsuki's enraged scream echoed from inside the dragon's mouth and he just started jamming the hooks of his vambraces into the serpentine tongue.

Eijiro cried out and dropped the human. He sat on his rump looking dejected.

“Don't you dare, you bastard! You nearly ate me so you don't get to sit there all woe is me. Fuck you!” To further emphasize his statement, Katsuki kicked him in the leg. Eijiro merely let out a pathetic keen and stuck his tongue out so Katsuki could see the flecks of blood.

“Oh shut up, you shitty breathed dragon. You won. Happy?” the blond snapped.

The dragon shook his head.

“Good! You don't deserve to be happy about it! You cheated. You weren't even hard, you fucker. You never took me seriously. And you just decided to eat me? Fuck you.”

Katsuki hated losing and some of his men were laughing to themselves that he was so hot headed he was willing to yell at a dragon.

Eijiro let out a huff that sounded a lot like a laugh before blowing smoke out of his nose at Katsuki, making him cough. 

“Fuck you too, lizard.”

 

 

Feeling dejected after losing to Eijiro a second time, the warrior collected his belongings and spoils of war to head home. He tried to ignore the large dragon still sitting on the field, but couldn't help giving him a wave goodbye.

As they walked, the group couldn't help but hear the heavy footsteps behind them. 

Sure enough, Eijiro was a few steps behind them.

They all stopped to watch their leader approach the Red.

“You're still here?” Eijiro pressed his muzzle into Katsuki's shoulder. “What? Did you want to come with me?” He said it as a joke, but as soon as the words left his mouth, hope flared in his chest that he may still get his own dragon.

There was no answering trill. Eijiro's red eyes stayed locked on his and Katsuki wasn't sure if he understood correctly but he nodded, granting the dragon permission to do whatever it was he was asking. 

Katsuki wasn't afraid though. The Red didn't seem to want to hurt him, even when he was in his mouth. Looking back, he realized how easily and quickly he could have bit down. Any other Red would've killed him before even getting to that point. 

He turned back around and ignored the questioning looks of his warriors, continuing on home. 

 

 

They got about halfway when Eijiro nudged Katsuki to the woods. The warrior lord tried to keep walking, but the dragon was insistent. Finally he waved his men off, telling them to head home and he would see them there.

The unlikely duo walked side by side through the forest in an oddly comfortable silence. Eijiro couldn't speak and Katsuki didn't feel the need to but somehow it worked.

After they walked for some time, they made it to a clearing. Within it was an unlikely Thunder of dragons consisting of a Silver, an Amethyst, and a Crystal with shredded wings. Katsuki had never heard of a mixed thunder like this and he filed away any information about what he saw. This seemed like Eijiro’s Thunder so while Katsuki would not let his Clan hunt them, he couldn't help but analyze everything.

The Red and Silver were the biggest, followed by the Amethyst though all were small for their age, if they were around the age of the Red. The Crystal was exceptionally small - no more than six feet in length - but with torn wings it was probably for the best. It would make survival easier. The fact that the Thunder was made up of four subspecies and weren't in caves, suggested they were living where they could and were separated from their parents too early to learn what they needed.

Katsuki felt a pang of guilt, knowing it was a hunter like him who likely made these dragons orphans. Except the Crystal. No hunter worth anything would mutilate a dragon for sport. 

The last few generations of hunters went after battle mounts of demons. They rarely went after wild dragons unless they were slaughtering villages. That was typical Red behaviour. Crystals loved to play tricks, but they didn't intentionally hurt people. Silvers loved people, and Amethysts kept to themselves. 

These ones didn't seem to like humans at all. The Silver and Amethyst dove in front of the Crystal, bellowing angrily. Classic Amethyst behaviour - honour was important and defending those who can't fight at their full potential was a part of being the self proclaimed leader. The Silver seemed to follow her belief system. 

Eijiro was conversing with them though he couldn't understand what was being said. Katsuki sat quietly near a tree, showing he was no threat and was giving them space. They outnumbered him and one alone could kill him. He didn't believe they would though. Their colours meant they were as predictable as dragons could be. The Red, Kiri, was the only potential threat and he knew deep down that he wasn't.

“Eijiro, what have you done?” Mina cried.

“Nothing! I told you years ago that Katsuki is my friend.”

“Humans can't make friends, Eijiro!” She repeated the same thing she told him back then.

“Maybe they can, maybe they can't,” Eijiro argued before telling a lie he hoped they would believe. “But I lost a battle against him. I'm his dragon now. I came to say goodbye.” His voice got quieter as he realized what that truly meant. He didn't know whenhe would see his family again. But he couldn't deny that there was something about Katsuki that told him he had to stay with him. 

“Eijiro,” she whispered sadly.

Just like that the situation was defused. The three dragons crowded him, nuzzling him.

“I'll visit when I can,” Eijiro promised.

“And call for us if you ever need us,” Sero told him. “We will always be your Thunder. If he hurts you, we will kill him.”

“And you can always come home,” Denki added.

The four dragons crowded together in another bout of nuzzles. After a few minutes, Eijiro pulled back and looked at Katsuki.

The blond drew his scimitar and set it at the base of the tree. He approached them with no weapons and hands up. 

“You can all tell I'm a hunter. Kiri and I had a fair fight. I'm the Lord of my Clan and for Kiri’s sake, I will keep my people away from you. You have my word.”

Eijiro looked at his adopted siblings as if to say ‘see? I told you.’

“Kiri?” Sero asked. Kiri trilled, showing them how he got the name.

“Are you sure he's okay?” Denki asked, tilting his head looking at Katsuki. “He's wearing your baby teeth around his neck. That's not normal.”

Eijiro laughed. “I'll be okay, Denki.”

“Hey Crystal. Can I see your wings?”

Three dragons tensed, two posed to attack out of habit and one looking ready to dart away. Eijiro nodded at Denki and the smaller male kept his eyes on the Red as he slowly stretched his wing out. He hadn't done it in a while and it had become stiff and sore.

“Fucking piece of shit,” Katsuki muttered to himself. Despite how his job made him appear, he didn't hate dragons. He loved them. He hated having to kill them, but he would rather do that than let the demons keep them.

Compared to what was going on with this dragon's wings though, he almost preferred demons to whatever monster did this.

Denki's wings had been burned. Gem coloured dragons didn't have the hardening ability that Reds did. Crystals were resilient to cold and ice, but fire ate up their wings like they were made of paper. 

Katsuki touched part of the blackened edge and Denki cried out in pain. 

“Shh shh,” Katsuki soothed, petting his back gently. “I'm not trying to hurt you.”

Eijiro looked at him expectantly, but Katsuki shook his head. His wings shouldn't still be in pain unless they were new burns but everything from his size to the way he moved said he had been grounded for years. “I can't fix this, Kiri. Best I can do is cut off the edges so it doesn't hurt as bad. But that would be agony and I wouldn't do it until winter when he can use the snow for relief. Do you understand?”

All four dragons nodded. Denki was the only one not appearing upset, as though he had resigned to the idea that he would be like this forever. 

“I'll keep looking for other ways,” Katsuki told him as Denki slowly folded his wing back into place. “And stretch your wings out more you lazy fucking lizard.”

Eijiro laughed a little as he watched his new master tend for his Thunder as though the entire Thunder was his, not just one dragon. Maybe now they would understand that Katsuki wasn't a bad human.

 

 

The dragons were sad to see Eijiro leave and Mina made sure he remembered his ribbons. He left one behind for each of them, to add to their own hoards.

The Thunder didn't admit to liking Katsuki, but they were more at ease now having met him. They called goodbyes after them until they were out of sight. 

The pair walked in silence for the most part. They would have a lot of years together and Katsuki didn't want to start off by assuming he could just ride him. They were almost there when Katsuki spoke up. 

“This might be bad when we get home. Not all of my Clan will want you there. Never attack my people. Ever. Unless my life is in immediate danger and I don't know about it.”

Eijiro nudged him gently in the shoulder.

“Trust me, Kiri. Coming with me means you're my dragon now. Trust I can keep you safe.”

The Red tossed his head in agreement. He wasn't so sure suddenly about his decision to become Katsuki's dragon. But it was too late. He couldn't go back on his word.

They heard the arguing before they even arrived.

“Bakugo would NOT bring a dragon back here!”

“We were there. We know what we saw. Or think we know. It was unbelievable but I swear. He has a dragon!”

“A Red. Twelve feet tall. Maybe twenty feet long.”

“And he's going to let that beast wander around the children? Reds are the worst!”

“They're unpredictable! He'll devour us in our sleep!”

“I don't know. We saw him and he seemed… I don't know. Different than the Reds we've taken down.”

“We should trust our lord. He's been good for us this far.”

“Trust him? I would if he was half the lord his mother was.”

Katsuki had heard enough. He led Eijiro out of the trees. “You got something to say?”

Collective gasps sounded around the Clan as they saw Eijiro.

“What the hell is this madness?”

“This is my new servant,” Katsuki announced. 

“You can't bring a dragon here,” the man who had spoke out loudest against Katsuki stepped forward. “I won't let you.”

“What are you going to do about it? Challenge me, old man?” Katsuki laughed. “At least you have the balls to speak up to my face.”

“Listen up!” Katsuki raised his voice so everyone could hear. The whole clan - nearly a hundred strong - had gathered when Eijiro had emerged. “This is my dragon. Yes, we are dragon hunters. It's who we are and I would never change that. I am as proud of thatas any of you. But today I saw this dragon annihilate our enemies. The attacks used against us were used for us. Every single one of us returned. When was the last time that happened? If he attacks any of us, I'll put him down myself. But with one dragon, I believe we can finally turn the tide on those fucking demons and their shitty ass nomu.”

Some of the people cheered. Others weren't swayed.

“You think that because you're young and stupid.” Taro Utsushimi said loudly.

“Maybe, but the “young and stupid" one is your Lord, and has kept your ass alive the last couple of years. Against my better judgement, I may add. Besides, maybe I'm too idealistic but at least I haven't resigned myself to accepting people dying as part of the job. I can tell you the names of every single warrior that I've lost, that I've mourned. Which is more than you can say, Utsushimi. You don't have to like it, and you don't have to like me. But people can hold their loved ones tonight because of this fucking dragon.”

“Get rid of the dragon or my daughter won't be your loved one anymore.”

“She's a capable warrior and she's pretty, but offering her to me in the first place was a move to increase your own influence. Love had nothing to do with it. What's your next argument?”

Some of the people chuckled, including Camie, the mentioned daughter. 

“Then maybe I'll take your best warriors and start my own clan.”

“You can't say you have the best warriors if I'm not there.” Katsuki laughed. As arrogant as he was, Katsuki was honest. He was the best in the Clan, and it was even more impressive given his age. Utsushimi chose to ignore that so Katsuki continued on. “If you are so against my doing what I believe can save my people, then leave. But if you die out there, I want your last thought to be that I was right and you should've stayed.”

 

 

Katsuki knew that Utsushimi’s words held sway in his Clan. It was further confirmed when a third of his people packed their belongings.

Needing to prove he was better than Utsushimi, he approached every person leaving and said goodbye to them and made sure they had everything they needed. Those with small children got extra cloth for diapers or clothing, and extra rations even though Utsushimi told them not to accept Katsuki's aid. 

These people were like extended family and the leader would make sure their needs were met, even as they left him. He hated that they were leaving, but hated it even more that Utsushimi was so absorbed in doing things his own way that they were leaving now instead of at first light when it was safer. 

“Katsuki?”

He turned and faced Camie as she approached, tucking her hair behind her ear. Her bag was strapped to her back.

“You're leaving too?” 

“It's my father,” she said as though it explained everything. And Katsuki supposed it did. “But if he's the Lord of the new clan, it'll pass to me. I'll bring everyone back.”

“Do what's best for your people.”

She smiled sadly at his duty first attitude. “I'll miss you.”

Katsuki didn't know what to say. Then don't leave? He loved her in his own way but not enough to ask her to stay. You'll find someone else? While it was true, he knew that was the wrong thing to say.

“I'll miss you too,” was what he settled on. It wasn't a lie. They had been courting for almost a year.

Camie wrapped her arms around his neck. His moved around her lower back and he held her close. Their lips met softly. 

His face felt wet. He pulled back to look at her and wiped her tears away. “You know I'm not worth crying over so knock it off.”

Her palm cupped his jaw as she cried more. She kissed him again and again whispering that she loved him until her father yelled for her to start moving.

She walked backwards to her group, eyes on Katsuki as if trying to memorize every last detail of him, as though she didn't already know where every scar or freckle was.

Katsuki stood at the front of his Clan, all watching in silence as their comrades left. When they had vanished from sight, he turned to address those remaining. 

“If anyone returns, and they will, welcome them home. Utsushimi’s family is welcome, but not Taro himself.” With that, he headed towards his tent. 

They were conical with skins wrapping around large logs lifted into an upright triangle. The top had a flap for the rain or snow but was otherwise left open so the smoke from the firepit inside could escape. Each tent had a pit, and there were larger communal ones in the middle of the encampment. 

Eijiro sat next to Katsuki's tent, slumped sadly. He had figured out it was his by scent and didn't want to stay nearby when the group was leaving. He understood so many people left because of him and he knew why. He didn't blame them.

But that didn't mean that it didn't hurt. 

He had been so excited to see his old friend again and had gotten caught up in his assertive magnetism. But now Eijiro was feeling like he was more trouble than he was worth. 

“Hey lizard.”

Eijiro looked down and saw Katsuki had approached. He was so busy thinking that he hadn't heard him.

Katsuki looked as exhausted as he sounded, red eyes dark with emotion that wasn't showing on his face. Eijiro lowered his head to snuffle his hair. The blond lifted his hand as if to shove the muzzle away but rested his hand on it instead. A slight scratch and a pat and Katsuki headed into his tent.

“Sleep wherever you want but stay close,” was tossed over his shoulder as the flap closed behind him.

Eijiro carefully turned three times before laying down in front of Katsuki's tent flap, guarding his new master. 

Chapter Text

The day after Utsushimi led many of the Clan away, Katsuki already looked more alive. The weight of the other man's constant undermining was no longer weighing him down.

His eyes were still shadowed from not having Camie though. Even if he wasn't ilove with her, he loved her and he hadn't spent many nights by himself. She had been the best choice for leading the Clan with him and he genuinely enjoyed her company and sense of humour. 

But that was over now. Wallowing in self pity wasn't going to help him be the best damn lord he could be.

Breakfast was cooked around the many fires around camp. Katsuki surveyed everyone's rations, mentally noting they'd need to take down multiple deer within the next couple of days. 

They had a small herd of cattle that travelled with them. Not everyone in the Clan was fit to take down dragons for various reasons. While the warriors fought, others went hunting or stayed behind to tend to the small herd of cattle and chickens. The chickens stayed in a cart for the most part and it was the children who collected the eggs in the morning. 

Katsuki looked at Eijiro and groaned to himself. He didn't factor in rations for that hulking brute. Surely he ate a lot. He made another mental note to find out just how much later.

For now, he watched a small child approach the large dragon. The child looked around before spreading her hands, revealing food she didn't like from her breakfast. 

Eijiro very carefully lipped the scraps up, his lips tickling the girl's hands in the process. He made sure not to let his teeth come close to her.

Once the kids realized a five year old was hand feeding a dragon that weighed a tonne, the rest of them rushed over to see him.

Eijiro looked over at Katsuki, tail wagging happily like a dog's. He shook his head to himself and headed to check fish traps he had set up the day before.

He was about to call for Eijiro when he felt the ground shake. He looked back and found the dragon on his back as children pat what they could reach of his sides and tummy. He left the dragon there so he could win people over in his own way.

 

 

Days passed and Camie never came back. 

Katsuki hadn't expected her to, but part of him still thought she would. Others returned though, once they realized Lord Utsushimi was better at enforcing directions rather than deciding them. As insisted by Katsuki, the Clan welcomed them back warmly.

 

Over the next two weeks, the Clan began getting accustomed to their life with a dragon. They had packed up camp multiple times and moved along the base of the Draconian Range, a large span of mountains known for the number of dragons that lived there - mostly Reds and Silvers. That, unfortunately, also meant nomu. Demons weren't as common, but nomu were endless and they had had to fight multiple times. Each fight made them see just how valuable Eijiro was.

Eijiro often kept watch at night for a few hours to integrate himself into the Clan, even though Katsuki had a well disciplined system in place that had guards on a rotation. There were eight guards at all times, two facing each direction so as to keep each from falling asleep. If Eijiro caught wind of anything, he would move to that side of the camp to make sure the guards were alerted. 

At first they were terrified when a big red head appeared from the darkness behind them. But once they realized it was Eijiro, they tossed him a piece of dried meat and focused their attention to where he motioned to.

Eijiro was determined to make sure Katsuki didn't regret taking him home. He knew not everyone liked him but he did his best to help, including carrying the encampment on his back like he was a pack mule. He also tried to help everyone set up their thi, which made set up go even faster.

Guards had been up around Eijiro because he was a dragon and no one was used to having one around. They were liking him more and more, but only their leader and the children seemed to trust him inexplicably. 

It was good that Eijiro had been working at winning over the people, because at the end of those two weeks after having joined them, their lives would be changed forever.

 

 

Change came in the form of a messenger riding under a dark blue banner with a centered symbol of a red flame - the banner of Enji Todoroki, King of Yuuei.

Katsuki kept his ear to the ground and didn't like anything he heard. Granted most were rumours, and there would always be people that wouldn't like their ruler, no matter who it was. But he had enough sources to see both sides of the coin, and both sides seemed grim. 

The most common rumours he heard were that the king was in league with the demons and that's why he still hadn't waged war, that he had murdered his own son, that he was embezzling his country's money, or that he forged a secret alliance with enemy country of Kesshi.

Katsuki didn't know what was true or what was slander. He didn't like Enji but he didn't hate him either. He had no use for the king, but the western third of Yuuei was left wild and free, despite being part of the kingdom. Sanctioned dragon hunters ruled the area, and those hunters were Clan Bakugo. 

That left Lord Katsuki Bakugo acting as reigning Lord over a vast majority of land. But much of that was part of the Draconian Ridge and few had dared to try and cross it to see what lay on the other side. None returned who did try and cross it. While the coast was left completely unguarded, the Ridge also kept invaders out. There were no issues to be brought before royalty, or acting royalty, this far west. Issues were settled by the feuding parties by whatever means they chose, leaving Katsuki free to hunt dragons and slay nomu. 

So when Katsuki saw that banner flying towards him on a fast horse, his gut was rolling.

His men had alerted him to the incomer and Katsuki stood on a hill waiting for them, leaning against Eijiro.

As the rider neared, she slowed. It was a widow, clad in black mourning garb from head to toe astride a black horse, black veil whipping in the wind though never revealing her face. Her posture and movements gave away her fear of the Red dragon. Katsuki stepped away from Eijiro and motioned the messenger to him. 

“Lord Katsuki Bakugo?” a sweet voice asked from behind the veil. 

“That's me.” He uncrossed his arms and showed her his biceps. Both were adorned with identical tattoos - the mark of the Lord (or Lady in the case of his late mother) of the Clan. A solid black band went around his bicep, below that was another band made up of interlocking triangles with a dot in the center of each, then another solid black line, followed by dots larger at the black line then getting smaller as they went down his arms. 

Tattoos higher up on the arm near the shoulder were common places for marriage tattoos, and many of the men and women had adorned other parts of their bodies. But the bands around the biceps were forbidden for all except the Clan's leader.

The widow seemed to know this and bowed to him. “My Lord, my name is Toru Ojiro and I come bearing a message from His Majesty King Enji Todoroki.”

“None of this My Lord bullshit. Bakugo is fine, Lady Ojiro. The dragon is my servant. He won't hurt you. Come with me and you can rest before we discuss the message.”

Toru Ojiro protested slightly, but ultimately was grateful for the rest and food before joining Katsuki in his tent. She had requested the flap stay open for modesty’s sake and he allowed it, though she had nothing to worry about. The parchment she broughtwith her lay sealed on the table between them. 

“Why did he send you and not a real messenger?” 

“My - I mean, Bakugo, I am the messenger.”

“Never said you weren't, just that you weren't a real one. Why would he send a mourning widow instead of another messenger who no doubt knows the land better?”

“My Lord Bakugo, I'm perfectly capable of being a messenger.”

“What's Kingy holding over you?” Bakugo couldn't think of another reason someone in her position - a widow entirely alone in the vast wilderness that was about ten days ride from the castle without stopping to rest - would do a dangerous job like that. Thealternative had to have been awful.

And it was. That glint in her eyes said everything before her lips did. 

Her voice was soft and trembling as she confessed, treasonous as it was. But out here, where everything was wild, it didn't feel like the King could reach her.

“He told me he was going to shorten my mourning period so I could become one of his mistresses.”

Katsuki scoffed. “Fuckin’ hate royalty. Thinking they can just take whatever the fuck they want.”

“But you're a lord.”

“I'm out where I'm free. This,” he motioned around him, “is my bedroom. My bed has a bit more hay than everyone else's. If you go to any other tent, they all look the same. Out here we're as close to equal as it gets. I don't bow to that court shit. If I won'tbow down to a dragon, I ain't bowing to a man, king or not.”

Toru’s voice was wistful. “That sounds wonderful. I'm no one special, but both sides of my family is tangled in his court. My husband came from a line of knights and my family are tailors. Every moment I'm here I fear for my son. But I couldn't bear to be there.”

Katsuki could tie her up and drag her to the King and have her head for treason. She was playing a dangerous game. 

“Ojiro, you're safe here and I would take both you and your son in and protect you. But you're too damn trusting. Don't ever speak like that in anyone else's presence. Other lords would have your head.”

Her head snapped up and Katsuki imagined her face was the picture of horror, though she was hidden. “Oh no,” she breathed, realizing she had said too much.

“I just said you're safe here. You seem like a nice girl, if a bit too open of a book. No need for you to die because the king can't keep it in his pants.”

“You're kind.”

“No I'm not. I just don't have time for their stupid games. Games out here mean death. Speaking of games, what does his royal high-ass want?” Katsuki grabbed the envelope off the table and opened it.

The Bakugo family could read and write, as well as do arithmetics. Others of higher rank within the Clan could as well but not as proficiently. Most of the Clan could not, but with their lifestyle it didn’t matter.

Katsuki's mother had forced him to learn everything he would need as Lord, but in moments like this, he wished he was an illiterate nobody. 

“Fuck.”

“What is it?” Toru asked with concern.

“Nothing for you to worry about. If you can ride all the way out here, you can help around the camp. You're welcome to stay with us as long as you want, but pull your weight.”

“Yes, Bakugo.” Toru got to her feet and gave a slight curtsey. “Thank you. Please excuse me.”

When she was gone, Katsuki approached Eijiro, who was laying by the entrance. “Hey Kiri, can you go get Vlad for me? You remember who that is?”

Eijiro nodded and within minutes the veteran hunter was sticking his head into the tent. “You wanted to see me?”

“Yeah. Come in here. Close the flap.”

Vlad the Dragon King was a veteran dragon hunter, renowned for taking down the largest known Red Dragon. He had led a team, unable to kill a dragon singlehandedly that was over three hundred feet long. It's head was longer than Eijiro's entire body. It seemed like a thing of myth, but Katsuki had seen the skeleton himself. Vlad had gotten his nickname for delivering the final blow, and ending up drenched in its blood.

If anyone was fit to lead a clan of dragon hunters, it was him. But he didn't want the job. He was happy just hunting and slaying. He was the most valuable asset to the Bakugos and Katsuki never found any shame in asking for his help. 

“I'm getting dragged into a fucking war,” was Katsuki's greeting. 

“You or all of us?”

“Me. Enji’s finally getting off his ass to end the fucking shitshow with the demons. Calling the giants to war again, because they aren't getting slaughtered enough as it is. So he's going to send in five of us to fight alongside them. Five. Five fucking humans to do something giants can’t. I hate this fucking king.”

Vlad frowned. “It says five of you specifically?” 

Katsuki thrust the paper at him to read. “It says the five listed have to go. I only recognize my name and one other. He seems to think we'll win if he's sending the favourite seed from his kingly loins,” he rolled his eyes as Vlad laughed.

“There's also a date to be at court,” Vlad pointed out. “You need to leave at first light and ride hard to make it, fly if your dragon will let you. Sending the widow meant you lost valuable travel time because it took her longer to find us.”

“I'll go on my own time,” Katsuki waved him off. “While I'm gone, I want to leave you in charge. I don't know how long I'll be gone and I trust the Clan in your care.”

“Are you sure? We can send a rider to find Utsushimi.” Vlad's face was solemn, but he grinned when Katsuki started laughing.

 

 

Vlad had told Katsuki to leave at first light to meet the king's deadline. 

He instead left four days after receiving the message. Toru Ojiro had already left after realizing the warrior was taking his time to leave. Katsuki took his time packing, hunting for food with his Clan, leading them to a new encampment, anything to put off dealing with King Enji.

Finally he packed a bag with necessities, food, and a bedroll before heading northeast with Eijiro at his side.

Katsuki was quiet for the first hour until Eijiro nudged his shoulder as he walked alongside him. 

“I've just got a lot on my mind,” Katsuki told him. Eijiro nudged him again. “I'm fine.“ Eijiro snorted. “I am fine you nosy lizard.” Katsuki shoved the big red face away.

 

But after a short time, Katsuki started talking. 

“I don't want to go to war,” he admitted. “I'm afraid to. Don't get me wrong - I'm not afraid to fight. I'm a fucking warrior. It's what I do, it's in my blood and I'm damn good at it. But I'm also the Lord of my Clan. A Clan that just had a mutiny where some of them left. I haven't been the leader for that long - it's only been two years since my parents died and I took over. What if I don't have a Clan anymore when I get back? What if between me getting a dragon and then going to war, they all leave me? Or worse, what if we need more numbers and I have to bring them into the war as well?”

“Kiri,” Eijiro trilled softly. 

“I need to be with my Clan to solidify my position. My leaving could fracture the rest of them. I need to hold my Clan together. But I have to go to deal with a king who doesn't know his head from his ass. I have more important things to do than to deal with his fucking politics!”

“Kiri,” Eijiro nodded his head in understanding. 

“And it's halfway through summer already. I need to be back before winter hits. They're fucking hard where we live. Maybe not for you because you're a fucking dragon, but we've had people die from the cold. I need to be with my people!” Katsuki screamed in frustration. 

“Kiri?” 

“What?”

“Kiri?” 

Katsuki glared. “I don't know! I don't know what you're saying!” The dragon considered what he was saying before he stopped walking. Katsuki looked back at him, growling. “Sorry if being my dragon wasn't as exciting as you were expecting. Life isn't exciting. It's making sure people don't die, and are fed, and making sure they aren't behaving like children. With a dragon hunt thrown in for good measure.”

Eijiro just looked at him like he needed to stop talking. He lowered himself to the ground as far as he could, stretching out a wing like a ramp.

“Are you… offering me a ride?” Katsuki asked slowly. Eijiro nodded and stayed still. The warrior walked over and ran his hand along the smooth wing membrane.

He was about to hook his vambrace into Eijiro's side to help him climb when he paused. “Did this hurt when I used it?” Eijiro used his other wing to shield the front of his neck. “It hurts your neck but your sides and back are okay?”

Eijiro nodded and Katsuki rubbed his scaly side. “I'm sorry about that.” He scaled Eijiro's body until he was straddling him at the base of his neck.

Eijiro flapped his wings a few times in preparation before taking to the sky. Katsuki clung to his neck, fingers lacing so as to not fall. His eyes were huge and his heart was pounding as he looked below him at the rapidly shrinking land. The dragon flew up and up until he reached a certain point and stopped flapping his wings. 

The pair were soaring on an updraft. The breeze ran through Katsuki's hair and as it passed, it took his cares with him. Eijiro seemed content to ride the lift of wind blowing towards the mountains and Katsuki took the chance to let go of Eijiro's neck, spreadinghis arms wide.

Eijiro heard a noise and looked over his shoulder. Katsuki had his eyes closed, head tipped back, and was laughing. He didn't know the Clan Lord for long, but Eijiro knew he wasn't free with his genuine smiles or laughter. It made him smile too, happy he had erased the furrowed look of worry.

“Kiri!” He trilled, making Katsuki open his eyes. That smile never faded though. With a mischievous glint in his eyes, Eijiro bolted forward, causing Katsuki to fall of off him. He barely fell a few feet before the dragon swooped under him, catching him safely.

“Stupid lizard!” Katsuki shouted but was still laughing. He hooked himself in with his vambraces and Eijiro flew at a higher speed, spinning and diving and climbing right back up into the sky. Everything he did he was careful to make sure his human didn't truly fall.

The warrior had started out laughing, but with each new thing Eijiro did, he started whooping and hollering, almost giddy with adrenaline. 

By the time they landed again, Katsuki's limbs were shaking, his face flushed. His eyes held a sparkle Eijiro had never seen before and he decided then he would let Katsuki ride him any time and as long as he wanted, just to have that look again. 

“Thank you,” Katsuki grinned at him. “I've never done anything like that and it's exactly what I needed.”

“Kiri!” Eijiro beamed back at him, all teeth that would be terrifying to anyone else. He reached a wing around to pull Katsuki close to him, as if hugging him. The blond hugged him back as best he could. 

He looked up at the big red head. “I was pretty pissed to have to do this. I'm sick and fucking tired of nomu and this isn't my war. But right now, the Clan isn't my responsibility. Vlad's got this. I will never not worry about them, but right now I get to go on an adventure with a motherfucking dragon.”

“Kiri!”

“And we're gonna keep flying.”

“Kiri!”

 

 

They did continue flying over the next couple of days. Sometimes they covered large distances in minutes, other times they soared slowly, lazing around.

But they did a fair bit of walking too, and they camped on the ground. 

Katsuki slept closest to the fire, with Eijiro behind him. Most times the dragon slept curled nose to tail, but there were a couple nights that he would roll and nearly squish Katsuki.

Nights sometimes meant trouble though. 

One night, a couple days after leaving the Clan, Katsuki was sleeping when he was woken up by something crunching. He sat up, hand on his scimitar as he took in his surroundings. 

Only to find the culprit was a certain Red dragon.

Eijiro had gotten bored and his teeth were itchy. He had rummaged through Katsuki's bag of food and found orange sticks.

He chomped on one and liked the feeling on his teeth. But the taste was terrible though, so he chomped all the orange sticks and spit them out after they stopped feeling nice.

He was on the last one when Katsuki woke up.

“What the fuck are you doing?”

Eijiro's eyes widened and he covered the chewed orange sticks with his wing. “...Kiri?” he trilled as sweetly as he could.

“Don't give me that! Move your wing.”

“Kiri!” Eijiro looked away, not moving it.

“I said move your wing, you overgrown lizard.”

Slowly Eijiro did as he was told.

“You ate all the carrots! But you didn't even fucking eat them! You wasted them, you piece of shit.” Eijiro bared his teeth in response. “Don't bare your teeth at me! You might be bigger but I'm a hell of a lot meaner. Fucking try me.”

A crash to their left halted their scuffle. 

Katsuki's scimitar was drawn and Eijiro stood at his side, heat radiating off of him as he got his fire ready.

A nomu burst out of the trees and Katsuki was on it in an instant, scimitar slicing as he moved.

Nomu might be stupid, but they were big and strong. Katsuki had brought down many on his own, but that didn't mean they weren't tough. 

They were much easier to kill with a dragon, however. Katsuki's moves brought the nomu close to Eijiro and the Red brought his foreleg down, successfully trapping and crushing part of the nomu. With a quick slice from Katsuki, its head rolled off.

“Now,” Katsuki panted slightly from the exertion, “if you want to eat something, eat this.”

Eijiro recoiled, face scrunched up in disgust. Katsuki chuckled. 

“Come on. I can't get back to sleep now and even if I could, I don't want to sleep by a dead body, so we might as well get going.”

 

Despite his love/hate of carrots, travelling with Eijiro had its benefits. Katsuki didn't bring a tent with him because it was too much pointless work for one person. He regretted it when he was woken up one night by water on his face.

He was about to pull his cloak over his face when the rain stopped suddenly. He opened his eyes to see a dark red sky.

Not the sky. A wing.

He looked over at Eijiro, who had his wing stretched out to cover Katsuki. The Red was watching him, oblivious to the rain running down his own face. 

Knowing the dragon's wing would tire eventually sticking straight out, Katsuki gathered his cloak and bedroll. He carried them to Eijiro's side and laid them snugly against him.

“Don't roll on me, lizard,” Katsuki grumbled as he pulled the blanket back over him. Eijiro was warm but survival instincts were high laying so close to such an unpredictable creature. 

So Katsuki lay awake for a long while, back against the warm dragon as the rain began coming down harder. The red wing sheltered him and the sound of droplets against the membrane slowly lulled him back to sleep. 

Chapter Text

Eijiro was quiet the morning after the rainstorm. He kept to himself and didn't even look at the blond. Figuring he was just tired or wanted to be left alone, Katsuki went about getting his breakfast.

He was limited to a cold breakfast as the wood was too wet to light. During their time with the Clan, Katsuki learned Eijiro needed to eat a deer a day, or the equivalent of. They hunted together for dinner and Eijiro let Katsuki take all he wanted for dinnerand the next morning's breakfast before eating the rest himself.

Katsuki was grateful he had cooked the slab of meat the night before but it would've been nicer to heat it up.

Katsuki's eyes lit up. If Kiri could limit his firepower…

“Hey, Kiri?”

“Yes?”

Katsuki spun, scimitar drawn. He hadn't heard anyone approach and Eijiro hadn't alerted him.

There was a man standing there, naked. 

‘Man’ may have been a stretch. Horns protruded from his head, which was covered in spiky red hair. Scales dotted his temples, collarbones, arms, hipbones, and the sides of his legs. Blood red wings protruded from his back, proportional to his muscular body which stood a few inches taller than Katsuki. A matching red tail hung behind him.

“Kiri!” Katsuki called, eyes on the intruder. Where the fuck was his dragon?

“Kiri,” the man trilled, head tilting slightly.

Katsuki stared. “Are you…?”

The man nodded. “It's me, Lord Bakugo.”

Katsuki’s eyes got wider. “But you're…” he struggled for a word. Unable to find one, he glared. “Prove it. Tell me something only we would know.”

“Teeth you have fell out when I bit your sword,” Eijiro offered a tentative smile, giving the warrior a glimpse of razor sharp, pointed teeth, as he pointed at Katsuki's necklaces. 

No one in the world knew that, other than the two of them. There was no one else this could be but Kiri. 

Katsuki approached slowly, taking in his facial features. Wide red eyes watched him in return, one with a scar snaking down the eyelid. The dragon shifter had a slightly curved nose, and full, dry lips. Katsuki's own lips parted as he looked him over.

Kiri was beautiful. And still naked.

Getting a hold of himself, Katsuki turned and walked away to grab his cloak. Mentally berating himself for the faint blush on his cheeks, Katsuki reminded himself that this had been hidden from him for weeks.

He returned to Eijiro and covered him with the fur cloak. He distanced himself so as not to be distracted, pacing by the burnt out fire pit. 

Eijiro buried his nose into the fur trim of the cloak as he watched nervously. Showing himself like this to Katsuki could go either really well and be accepted, or really poorly which would result in himself and dragonkind being annihilated. 

Katsuki was quiet and paced for a long time before turning to the barefoot shifter.

“Why did you keep this from me?”

“You're dragon hunter. Secret turning human is how we don't die.”

Eijiro's speech was awkward and he took time to think of his words, as if translating in his head. As a dragon, Katsuki assumed his language skills were strong as they were known to be incredibly intelligent and informed in their decision making. Or at least that's what they noticed with dragons who were around people more, such as Silvers.

But being in a different body with a different way of shaping words, on top of using another language entirely couldn't be easy. His voice was more gravelly than Katsuki would have thought, if he ever imagined dragons could shift and talk.

“Is this something all dragons can do?” 

Eijiro nodded but then reconsidered. “Not Denki. It hurts too much.”

“Denki is the Crystal? With the burned wings?” Katsuki clarified and Eijiro nodded. 

“And maybe you not like me. I look like a scary monster. But like this you'd know it's me better than full human. ”

“I'm not scared of you, and I don't think you're a monster. But I'm fucking pissed you kept this from me. I led you into a camp of dragon hunters and I kept you safe, didn't I? I would've kept this between us!”

Eijiro looked down, half his face hidden by the cloak’s furred ruff. “I'm sorry.”

“Kiri, just…,” Katsuki ran his hand over his face. “Don't fucking keep shit from me. You're my dragon. Part of my Clan left because of you and I still kept you. They may come for you and I can't protect you if you have secrets.”

“Yes, Lord Bakugo.”

“Stop Lord Bakugo-ing me. It's Katsuki. You know that.”

“I'm Eijiro, but you call me Kiri. It's happy,” the Red shifter admitted.

“Why would you hide this from me?” Katsuki asked again though more rhetorically. “We could have fucking been talking instead of me fucking assuming you understood me, assuming your name.”

“I'm sorry Lor- Katsuki.”

“I get it. Stop apologizing.” After a moment he asked, “Can I see your full human form? You said human form was a dragon's biggest secret and this is only looks like half.”

Eijiro immediately shifted. He looked mostly the same, but his bright red hair fell loose around his face instead of spiked up, the remaining scales vanishing. His wings and horns were gone, but the sharp teeth were still there when he aimed a small smile at Katsuki.

The warrior regarded him, taken in again at the sight. He had known Eijiro was friendly but now he looked approachable, like someone you always wanted to be around. After a long minute, he said gruffly, “well you'd stand out in the street but I'd never guess you were a dragon.”

“That’s why,” Eijiro laughed softly.

After an even longer silence, Katsuki spoke again. Though this time the slight flush to his cheeks was back and he didn't meet Eijiro's eyes. “Both forms are good, but half state seems to be the best of both worlds.”

“That’s scary.”

“That's why I like it.” Eijiro’s head snapped up, not expecting that as a response. Katsuki's voice had sounded honest too. “It's easier to talk to and travel with you like this, but the dragon side looks strong. Wild. Unbreakable.”

That was enough for Eijiro. He shifted back into his half form, horns, wings, and the scattered scales returning. “Are tails happy?”

Katsuki looked at him out of the corner of his eye. “They're good, but in some situations they could be inconvenient.” Eijiro added a tail, not quite long enough to trail on the ground though. 

“Like this I have dragon nose and ears and eyes. And I can blow fire but not so far.”

“Didn't think that form could get any fucking better.” Eijiro’s face flushed happily but Katsuki wasn't looking at him. “How long have you been able to do this? Since we were kids?”

“No. Only when I grown up. It scared me,” he admitted. “Mina made sure I can…renthisj lex” Eijiro's voice was guttural as he used the word he needed in Draconic, hissing the end of the word. “Make word sound.”

“Speak?”

“Speak! Mina made sure I can speak words and sounds so I'm human. That's not happy.”

Eijiro smiled then stilled, straightening as he strained to listen. Katsuki’s hand went to his scimitar but he didn't draw it.

His gaze stayed trained on the location that Eijiro’s was. The dragon relaxed and Katsuki did as well. “Wolves. Way that way.”

“We're gonna be the best team.”

“We are,” Eijiro smiled. 

“Fuck yeah we are. But now that I know you can talk, I need to know. It's been bugging me this entire time. Why did you let me win?” 

“Lots of reasons.”

“No secrets, Kiri.”

“It's hard,” Eijiro admitted. “I knew you not bad. To me. Not bad to me. You're safe and that's happy. Safe is new way of happy. My Thunder not safe forever. We leave Denki to find safe.”

“You don't think I'd leave you to fend for yourself if it meant my life or yours?” Katsuki raised a brow at him.

"Maybe. I'm your dragon. Like haurach. Uhm... fate.”

“You believe in fate?”

“Not you?”

“I don't know,” Katsuki admitted. 

“My Thunder when I was tiny they said you and I not friends. You lie to me.”

“I don't lie. I might not tell everything to everyone, but I don't lie. We've always been friends.”

“That's happy,” Eijiro smiled at him.

Something about his smile and the little phrase made a smile appear on Katsuki's own face. “If I get you pants are you going to stay like this or do you want to go back to dragon?”

“This,” Eijiro confirmed. 

Katsuki gave him his extra pants but didn't have a second set of boots for him. It didn't matter, as Eijiro could make his feet scaly and therefore impenetrable to rocks and sticks. 

They talked as they walked. Eijiro did a lot of the talking. Katsuki had no problems understanding him, but began correcting him when he used the wrong words or the sentence didn't make sense. Eijiro was eager to learn and he would repeat them the correct way, but there wasn't much in the way of improvements. 

Hunting was easier without Eijiro being so big. The pair trapped and killed a rabbit easily enough, and it was plenty for the two of them.

Even though they had agreed Eijiro would take first watch and Katsuki the second, that night the pair lay awake on Katsuki's blanket, staring at the stars.

“Tell me about your Thunder,” the blond said after a while.

“Me, Denki, Sero, and Mina.”

“Denki is the Crystal. You mentioned Mina but didn't say who she was. The Amethyst, right?”

“Amasythst,” Eijiro nodded, his tongue struggling to wrap around the word.

“That leaves Sero to be the Silver.” Eijiro nodded again. 

“Sero was first I seen. He take me when I was a baby.”

“Took. He took you.”

“Yes. He took me when I was a baby.” Eijiro spoke the next part slowly. Mina had insisted he learn how to speak to humans but they didn't practice a lot and there were so many words to know.

“There were hunters at my home. Hunters not hunters,” he tapped Katsuki's chest, “hunters.”

“Stop. Hunters not hunters hunters?” Katsuki was confused. 

Henich. Irlym. Assholes.”

That didn't make that any easier for Katsuki to figure out. He called a lot of things ‘asshole’.

Eijiro chewed his lip. “Not hunter like you. Not nomu? Assholes.” He had heard Katsuki call them that many times. 

Katsuki sat up and looked at him. “Demons! They lead nomu and hunt dragons but they aren't hunters like me. They're all over the mountains looking for dragons to ride.”

Eijiro nodded and sat up too, sitting as close as possible while not touching him. “We call demons kothar.” 

Katsuki immediately imitated him and just as he was helping Eijiro with human words, the dragon shifter was teaching him. They worked at that nonstop at Katsuki's demand until he had as perfect a pronunciation as a human could.

Katsuki was sheepish when they realized how sidetracked they had gotten. He laid back down and Eijiro did as well. He asked him to continue his story of Sero taking him.

Eijiro told him as best he could of how demons had overrun the mountain when he was hatching, and how Sero had risked his life to save a hatchling. 

After a little while, Eijiro trailed off. His breathing evened out and a slight snore escaped him. 

Katsuki's eyebrows quirked up and he looked over. The dragon shifter was fast asleep with his mouth slightly open so he took the time to study him. He knew he was going to regret being up all night with talking to Eijiro and then needing to keep watch, buthe couldn't deny wanting to hear about his dragon's life. His dragon could shift into human form and talk to him - that was unheard of!

It was like his childhood dream had come true. The hours he spent with others around his age were spent forming bonds to improve hunting, not playing. He had formed friendships with almost everyone in his Clan and he trusted them completely. But he had been groomed to lead the Clan so to say he had a friend to play with for the sake of playing was different. The couple hours he had had playing with Eijiro was the closest he had ever had. 

But he hadn't expected this. 

The scales over Eijiro's face and body intrigued him. In dragon form, his scales were smooth and dry. They roughened if he hardened them against an attack. Katsuki wondered if his skin was just as smooth, and how it felt where skin and scales met. He wanted nothing more than to reach out and feel the contrast, but he knew better than to tickle a sleeping dragon.

After having cooked their dinner, they had let the fire go out. It wouldn't make them an easy target to any passersby, plus it wasn't cold enough to warrant one. But that meant Katsuki had nothing to get up and stoke to occupy his time, so he spent the nightwatching Eijiro sleep. He could see clearly under the brightness of the waxing moon.

Eijiro had turned to face him, body curling slightly. His hair, while standing up in a wild array of spikes, looked soft. The tips of his sharp front teeth peeking from between slightly parted lips and a string of drool escaped. He periodically snored softly, barely more than soft sighs. Nothing like Katsuki's late mother had been known for. Newcomers to the Clan often feared a dragon attack when in reality it was the Lady of the Clan. 

Katsuki didn't realize so much time had passed until the sky had begun to lighten. Shaking himself out of his stupor and cursing himself for being creepy, Katsuki got to his feet. He rinsed his mouth with canteened water before taking a drink. Leaving Eijiroto sleep a bit longer, he went to bushes along the the forest's edge and picked as many ripe berries as he could gather. 

Once he had enough to stave off their hunger for a little while, he brought his finds to the sleeping dragon.

He opened his mouth to call the dragon by his real name, Eijiro, but found he liked calling him Kiri. And the dragon himself said he liked the nickname too.

“Kiri? Time to wake up.” Katsuki tried, gently shaking his shoulder. He didn't do a lot of things gently, but this was still a Red and could still shoot fire. Many, many things could go wrong. 

But gentle wasn't working for Eijiro. He simply groaned and rolled to face away from Katsuki. The warrior shook him harder. “Kiri. Hey Eijiro. Wake up.”

Still Eijiro slept on. Katsuki’s eye twitched. He was not wasting the day waking up a dragon. 

“WAKE UP YOU SHITTY HAIRED DRAGON BEFORE I KICK YOUR ASS!”

That got Eijiro's attention.

But thankfully he had been aware of Katsuki trying to wake him, so he didn't blast him full of fire. Grumbling a little, he sat up on the fur blanket and rubbed his eyes. “Is it sunshine time?” he yawned.

Katsuki's heart clenched. Sunshine time? A badass dragon could still manage to be cute. “It's morning. And don't bitch about being tired. You at least slept.”

“Sorry.” Eijiro gave him sorrowful eyes that made the blond look away after handing him the bigger pile of breakfast berries.

“Shut up and eat.”

“We go far?” Eijiro pointed in a direction. 

Katsuki popped a berry into his mouth and nodded. “A couple more days that way.”

“Sleep with me? Go slow.”

Katsuki choked as a berry went down the wrong way. He pounded on his chest, coughing. Eijiro watched worriedly as tears sprung into Katsuki's eyes as he kept coughing. “What?” he wheezed in between coughing fits.

“Sleep with me...go slow?” Eijiro looked unsure. 

“Fuck you can't just… I mean just because I made you dinner and got breakfast doesn't mean… I mean you're…”

Katsuki was struggling to articulate his words. He couldn't even get his brain to function. He was pretty sure Eijiro didn't mean that. 

“Sleep with me-"

“Stop saying that!” Katsuki cut him off.

“As a dragon,” Eijiro smiled.

Katsuki's eyes widened. Sleep with Kiri when he's a DRAGON? Until this point he could honestly say he had never considered a dragon sexually before. But even though he knew that that couldn't be what Eijiro meant, it was all he could picture in his head.

“Fly. Thrae.” Eijiro pointed to the sky.

Katsuki was supposed to fuck a dragon midair? He ran his hands over his face. No he was not. There was a communication error. He was already too tired to deal with this.

Besides, Eijiro said sleep, not fuck.

Katsuki's eyes widened as that sunk in. “Sleep. You said sleep.”

“Yes. Sleep with-"

“I think with is the wrong word.”

The dragon eyes lit up with remembrance. He held his hands out in front of him. “On, in, under, out, in front and behind. On, in, under, out, in front and behind.” Each word had him moving his hands with motions that corresponded. “In?” Eijiro tried. “Sleep in me?” 

Katsuki's face burned. “No. I'm… no. Do that thing again.”

“On, in, under, out, in front and behind.” Eijiro's sang it a little as he did the motions.

“No no here.” Katsuki took the slightly scaly hands in his own. They were so warm, but not in a sweaty or clammy way. Just a dry, comfortable warmth. “It's on, in, under, out.”

“In front and behind!” Eijiro finished. 

“Yes. You mixed up on and in.”

“Sleep on me as a dragon flying.” Eijiro looked at him for confirmation. Katsuki couldn't help his smile. The dragon worked hard, he had to give him credit.

“Not right now but maybe in a little bit.”

Katsuki was rewarded with a smile brighter than the morning sun.

As they packed up their camp, Eijiro asked an innocent question. “What sleep with mean?”

The blond groaned. “Sleeping with someone or sleeping together is another way of saying…” He paused and racked his brain for wording. “how baby dragons are made.”

Eijiro went as red as his hair and Katsuki was grateful he didn't need to explain that too.

 

 

After working as hard as he did to learn wording, it didn't seem right not to take Eijiro up on his offer. When he reached a point he couldn't keep his eyes open anymore, Katsuki asked if they could stop so he could nap.

He watched Eijiro shift into his large, red dragon form. He picked up the discarded pants and returned them to his bag before scaling up. Using the rope he’d used to best him in their fight, Katsuki tied himself to Kiri to prevent himself from falling off. The dragon was only four, maybe five feet wide. Even though from their first flight together, Eijiro had proven he wouldn't let him fall to his death, but Katsuki wasn't about to take chances.

Eijiro kept his flapping to a minimum, gliding as often as possible. With the wind blowing past his ears and the sturdy feel of the dragon under him, Katsuki soon fell asleep.

Chapter Text

After having slept on the back of his dragon, Katsuki decided to make him a bridle similar to a horse’s with the rope.

Part of the rope crossed Eijiro's forehead just below his horns, behind the webbing near his jaw, and under his chin. Katsuki had run out of rope and had told Eijiro he wanted a band over the dragon's nose. He wasn't sure how to make that while still allowing Eijiro to open his mouth and shoot fire though. He did his best to explain that that extra band wasn't to limit the Red’s movement, but to give Katsuki extra support and room to swing if he was on Eijiro's back during a battle.

Eijiro had lit up at that and so the pair worked at getting more comfortable with each other in mid air.

They were flying slow as Katsuki walked, jumped and rolled across his back. He held on one handed to the makeshift bridle and slashed at imaginary enemies below them.

Katsuki tucked a boot into the bridle and peered over to look Eijiro in the eye. “Don't fucking drop me.”

And Katsuki let go.

Eijiro trilled in distress but realized they were still attached, Katsuki was just upside down. The Red swerved as he flew, and carefully rolled in the air. Katsuki laughed until his foot slipped out. Limbs flailed and he grabbed onto the rope with his hands, clutching tightly.

“Holy shit,” he laughed, breathless from the sudden rush of adrenaline.

“Kiri?” Eijiro trilled.

“Yeah I'm good,” Katsuki patted the big red face before using his vambraces to scale the outer sides of his neck to stand on his back.

Some dragons would not have stood for that, being the proud creatures that they are. Reds were even prouder than most. Eijiro had always been a little different though. He genuinely liked being around Katsuki, and helping an already talented warrior become even better in a way no one else could, filled him with his own sense of pride. Plus he liked the way the blond smiled after he flew.

Not ready to give up even after a close call, Katsuki had Eijiro go higher and then leapt off of him, so he could practice landing. He wasn't deterred even when he slipped a couple of times. The adrenaline rush was addictive, and he knew Eijiro wouldn't drop him, just like during that first flight a week prior.

 

Despite having only been at it a few days, dragonback fighting was bringing the pair closer. Doing death defying stunts by day and talking in the evening until Katsuki went to sleep and Eijiro kept watch was bound to have that effect.

“How you do that?” Eijiro asked as Katsuki turned fish on a spit above their fire. He was still working on his speech and already has shown improvements, his sentences weren’t as broken. To give further context to his question, he tapped his forearm where a silvery line snaked down Katsuki's arm.

“That? Oh I disobeyed the head of the Clan.”

“What doing?”

“Other way around. ‘Doing what’. And I sent the Clan on the trail of a dragon. He was a baby dragon, a little Red. “ He gave Eijiro a small wink at that. “My mother wanted to send the Clan after him because Reds shouldn't be out of the mountains. Obviously he was going to cause trouble.” He laughed as Eijiro protested. “I sent them in the opposite direction purposely. She found out and this was my punishment.”

Smoke swirled out of Eijiro's nostrils and his scales started to harden, armouring more of his body. “Mother hurt you?!” Katsuki had never seen Eijiro angry and instinctual fear licked at his heart.

“Kiri, calm down. This happened a long time ago. My mother's dead. Killed by a demon general and a Red. She was a shit mother, but she led the Clan well.”

“Only one hurt?” the redhead asked.

Katsuki shook his head like it was nothing. “No, but that was the worst of them.”

Eijiro's face was still harsh as he growled out, “karshoji tiamash.”

“What did that mean?” Katsuki asked though he wasn't entirely sure he had wanted to know. Eijiro shook his head, confirming Katsuki's suspicions. “I think it's best if we don't talk about my mother anymore.”

Later that night, as Eijiro slept on the fur next to him while he kept watch, Katsuki thought about Eijiro's reaction.

It was different. Unexpected.

The borderline vengeful ferocity was classic Red behaviour, but that was it. Reds didn't care for anyone. Maybe Eijiro was just being territorial and saw Katsuki as weak and in need of protection? He scoffed. Not a chance. Eijiro recognized his strength, otherwise he wouldn't follow his lead or let him ride on him.

Maybe it was the presence of a Silver in the integral early years that made him different from other Reds. If someone hurt Kiri, Katsuki would be on the warpath despite only knowing him for a couple of months. But he was human, raised with human social constructs and complex emotions. Reds weren't. Reds lived in solitude and even turned on their own offspring after a while.  

Kiri defied what it meant to be a Red dragon and that intrigued Katsuki more than he would admit.


They were beginning to become a deadly efficient team in the following days, though they had yet to test their combined fighting style in a real fight. It was while hanging off of Eijiro’s makeshift bridle two days later that Katsuki saw it.

The royal banner, deep blue with the shape of a flame in red in the center was headed their way amidst a group of of four riders and two pack ponies. One of them was pointing at the flying duo.

Katsuki scaled up the back of Eijiro’s neck. “Kiri! Land in front of them,” he yelled over the wind.

The dragon swooped down and landed heavily before the party. Katsuki scaled the rest of Eijiro's neck and stood on top of his head as the Red stood at his full, impressive height.

“It's a dragon!” the smallest man in the group gasped, almost losing control of his horse as his and the rest of the mounts panicked in the presence of an apex predator.

At least he's observant, Katsuki thought dryly.

“Halt!” the knight with the banner yelled and approached them. There was no fear of the dragon in front of him. Katsuki wasn't sure if he was brave or stupid. “In the name of His Majesty King Enji, we demand that you reveal your identity!”

“Katsuki Bakugo, Lord of Clan Bakugo and decorated dragon hunter.” he called down from where he stood, tattoos on display. He knew he looked both impressive and intimidating.  

“If you're a dragon hunter, why are you riding a dragon?” the observant green haired one asked, finally getting his horse under control.

Eijiro lowered his head and Katsuki jumped down, stalking towards him. “The fuck are you trying to say? I have a dragon because I'm that fucking good. I made a grown Red dragon my servant. What can you claim to have done?”

“Then you are the best of your kind. Dragon hunters, I mean.” There was interest in the man's eyes as he took in the sight of the warrior lord.

“Weren't you listening?”

“If you are Lord Bakugo, why didn't you answer the King’s summons?” the knight demanded.

“If?” Katsuki snarled. “My tattoos say that's exactly who I am. And that's where I was headed.”

“You're late and you missed the meeting!”

“It took a while to get the message to me,” Katsuki shrugged.

The knight gaped. “You have a dragon! You could have flown there in record time!”

“Just because you suck the King’s dick for his favour, doesn't mean I do. I do things on my own terms.”

Eijiro thought the knight was going to fall off his horse he looked so appalled at the accusation. He smiled, unable to help himself, but to the group it looked ominous.

The other two companions had remained silent through the exchange, though the one with red and white hair looked a little green at the mentioning of sucking off the king. The green haired male spoke up again.

“We got off on the wrong foot. My name is Izuku Midoriya,” he said with a large friendly smile. He motioned to his friends in turn. “My companions are Crown Prince Shoto Todoroki, knight and royal guard Tenya Iida, and our mage and healer Ochako Uraraka. King Enji recruited us to help with the influx of nomu and demons alongside the giants in hopes a small group of regular sized people can succeed where giants cannot. Please join us, Lord Bakugo.” He humbly bowed his head but when he raised it looking for an answer, Eijiro swore those green eyes took in every expanse of muscle glimpsed under Bakugo’s fur cloak.

Memories flashed in Eijiro's mind. A month ago, he had watched Katsuki press his lips to that girl, Camie. He had learned she had been Katsuki's mate. Since then he had been inseparable with the blond lord. Eijiro had been working on making a place for himself in the Clan. They ate together, fought together, and Katsuki had been helping him improve his speech. More significantly, they flew together.

There was a feeling in his chest that Eijiro didn't expect. It was the same feeling he got when Denki tried to take a ribbon from his collection when he was little. Except this was much stronger.

Mina had explained he felt that way because he was a Red dragon. It was in every fibre of his being to have treasure. He would feel an overwhelming compulsion to hoard anything of value, and would do anything - even kill - to have it. Eijiro had denied that he would ever need treasure so bad he would kill for It. But now... he could feel the possessiveness bubbling in his veins and understood why Mina had said that.

Unable to help himself, Eijiro approached them from behind Katsuki. He could see the way Izuku was leaning on his horse as they spoke, all big eyes and pretty smiles, as if showing off and trying to be alluring for Katsuki.

Not that Eijiro could blame him. All eyes were on Katsuki - his strong, commanding presence telling everyone exactly who was in charge, and it was not the princely one whose horse was next to the talkative green bean.

Eijiro was not one to be outdone. He too had to tell everyone exactly where he stood. He shifted into the half dragon-half human form he had become accustomed to over the past fortnight almost. He could adjust his dragon appendage ratio so that it fit his human sized body better if he chose. But this time he chose to make a statement.

He stood slightly taller than Katsuki, and just as straight and proud. His wings weren't their full size, but could easily wrap around two people. His tail swished behind him. He had kept most of his body covered in hard scales. His horns were longer than he usually had them in this form and stood out clearly amidst the sea of red spikes that was his hair. Those horns were as lethal as they were in full dragon form, the razor sharp tips glistening in the sun. His long serpentine tongue flicked out as he opened his mouth revealing all those sharp pointy teeth. He was also very naked as he draped an arm over Katsuki's shoulder.

“Oh.” The prince finally spoke. His expression didn't change, but Katsuki surmised it was in surprise at the sight of Eijiro.

The blond’s lips twitched as he tried to keep his chuckle to himself at how his dragon was acting. Though the were definitely going to have a talk later about revealing himself to strangers, no matter how jealous he got.

“This is Eijiro,” he jerked his head in the redhead's direction. The mentioned stared them down hard, the green haired one in particular. When Izuku looked over to address him, he lifted part of his lip up, revealing glistening, sharp teeth.

“It's nice to meet you,” Izuku said before looking away from the monstrous form.

Eijiro smiled to himself. He won this round.

“So what's the plan?”

“Pardon?” The prince asked.

“Are we going to the Ridge or to the giants?” Katsuki asked as though his previous question was obvious.

“We must travel to the giants, convince them to fight, then travel with them to the Draconian Ridge to launch an assault to end the onslaught of demons,” Shoto informed him in a flat tone that had Katsuki wondering if that was his usual way of speaking, or if he thought he was stupid.

“Let's go then. We can cover some ground before nightfall.”

“We can't just leave!” the knight, Tenya sputtered. “I need to send a message to His Majesty King Enji to inform him we found you and that we're beginning our quest!”

“Fuck,” Katsuki groaned. “I'll let it go this once. After this, you send your shit on your own time.”

While Tenya wrote his message, the warrior lord addressed the others. “Why were you the lucky ones? I know why his royal high-ass over there is here. How did the rest of you end up marching to your deaths with us?”

“Do you have to say it like that?” Ochako groaned. “The king wanted a witch from my Coven to join for healing and magic attacks. I was the best one that wasn't busy.”

“What magic attacks?”

“Simple elemental stuff, sensing other magics, setting up barriers.” Ochako brushed it off as not being impressive.

“What about you, jackass in a can?” Katsuki asked Tenya, who looked up from his writing.

“I'm a Royal Guard,” Tenya sniffed at the name but said nothing. “It is my sworn duty to protect his Royal Highness, Prince Shoto.”

“Right. What about you? What makes a runt so special that the king knows his name?”

“I'm a cryptozoological scholar.”

“Come again?”

“I study cryptids, which are creatures we don't know how to classify. I'm one of the leading minds in giantology, actually. Through living with giants, studying behaviour, anatomical structure, and so forth, I was the one that proposed the notion that giants belong on a branch of the same evolution tree that humans belong to, that they are a subspecies of hominini as opposed to a unique species. I'm putting together a thesis on the biological construction of the nomu. King Enji wants me to see if I can further what we know and also see if I can find anything out about the demons on a scientific scale.”

Katsuki nodded, unable to understand most of it but was mostly unimpressed that he had no mention at all of fighting abilities. “And I'm here because I can actually fight. I bring down dragons, and I know the area. Now that we all know each other, along the way sort out your watch schedule. One of you will watch the first half of the night, and I'll watch second half every night.”

“But that isn't fair to you,” Ochako pointed out.

“It's not about being fair. It's about knowing I'm not going to fall asleep on watch,” he snapped. He trusted Eijiro far more than them and even he only got first shift.

Tenya released a bird Katsuki hadn't even noticed and they all watched it fly in the direction of the castle. Katsuki frowned to himself. He'd have to watch his words because he was sure the knight would report any infraction against the crown. It wouldn't surprise him if the dick sucking comment was included in that note being taken into the distance.


Eijiro had shifted into his dragon form and Katsuki rode on him as the others rode their horses, all of whom seemed calmer around the dragon once realizing he wasn't going to eat them.

They rode for a few hours before Eijiro's head snapped up. Scimitar in hand, Katsuki was poised to fight. But the dragon shook his head.

“Food?”

Eijiro nodded and Katsuki jumped off him. They all watched the dragon take flight, speeding to follow the scent.

“We should look for our own,” Izuku spoke up. The others agreed, but Katsuki cut them off.

“The fuck do you think he's doing?”

“For us too?” Ochako asked.

“Yes, though I wonder if you even deserve it with that attitude.”

“Well we didn't expect a dragon to hunt for us,” Tenya pointed out. “How do you know he will?”

“Because that's how he is. He shared his catches with my Clan and with me when we travel. He's not a typical Red.”

“I assumed that when he became human,” Shoto said quietly.

“It was a shock for me too,” Katsuki admitted before lying. “He doesn't know of any other dragon that can do it, so it's been interesting.”

“How long have you had him?” Ochako asked.

“Long enough. Now let's find a spot to make camp. He doesn't take long.”

The group fell silent as they scouted a safe spot to camp, and began setting it up. Shoto made the fire, Ochako tended the horses, Tenya found water, and Izuku followed Katsuki as he set up the bedrolls before looking for any wild root plants to compliment the meat Eijiro would be bringing.

Eijiro had ended up finding a buffalo herd and brought back a male large enough to feed the company.

He noticed a certain look often on Katsuki's face while with the Clan, and the same look was on his face now as he cut off the lower half of the buffalo's legs.

The warrior was so lost in thought as he made to remove the head that he didn't notice Eijiro had shifted forms until he heard that rough voice beside him.

“What is wrong?”

“Huh? Oh it's nothing, Kiri. Just thinking.”

“About?” Eijiro urged.

“What to do with this beast. If you want to eat it as a dragon, you can but it'll last longer if you eat the way you are now. It's your call.”

“Like this. We all can share.”

“This is going to be hard because we're travelling, and I can't rely on the Clan so if you want to help, then by all means.”

Katsuki rolled the buffalo onto its back and Eijiro helped. “What you need?”

“To find a way to….” Katsuki eyed Eijiro thoughtfully. “Your skin gets hot when you get ready to shoot fire.”

“My tummy and neck,” Eijiro nodded.

“Can you hold a certain temperature?” Eijiro shook his head slowly, confused so Katsuki tried again. “I need a little bit of heat. The fire is too hot.”

Eijiro took Katsuki's slightly bloody hand and placed it on his firm abdomen. He gathered a bit of his flame power, causing his skin to get warmer. “Easier as dragon.”

Katsuki wasn't paying complete attention, however. He trailed his fingers over the muscles his hand had been placed on. They were both quiet, but the thick silence wasn't suffocating. If anything, coupled with Katsuki's exploratory fingers, it was rather exciting.

A horse's nicker yanked Katsuki back to earth and he pulled his hand away. He looked at Eijiro's face with darkened eyes. His voice was an octave lower when he spoke.

“That felt good.”

“The heat or,” Eijiro paused debating if he should continue. “Or me?”

“Both,” Katsuki admitted, his cheeks tinted. He turned back to the carcass in front of him and cleared his throat. “Go all dragon and lay on your back. You're going to dry the meat.”

Eijiro did as he was told and Katsuki yelled to his companions. “Deku! Round Face! Have either of you dried meat before?”

They looked amongst each other. Who was who? Katsuki made an irritated sound and pointed at Izuku and Ochako. “You two.”

They both answered yes, and Izuku added that his name was Izuku.

“Well you're Deku now.”

Izuku and Ochako each took knives from an unrolled tool kit and all three began cutting at the meat. Once it was free, Izuku brought a large slab of meat to Tenya who had set up a spit over the fire.

Katsuki was covered in blood as he set bones aside that could become tools, and as he stood with his hands full of fat, he realized he needed another bowl.

“Deku, find another bowl for this.”

“There's one in my bag!” Ochako called out helpfully as she cut.

Izuku found it and brought it over for Katsuki to fill with fat to be used for soap - which Ochako said she was good at - and torch lights if needed. He set the full bowl on the ground nearby in time for two bags to be thrust into his hands. “What are these?” he asked.

“Stomach and bladder. Go clean them out.”

The stomach definitely got cleaned out but it wasn't the buffalo's. Izuku had promptly emptied the contents of his own stomach on the ground near where they worked.

“Fucking useless!” Katsuki snarled. “If any of your puke touches the meat, that's what you're eating!”

Ochako shot him a dirty look while moving to Izuku. “Can you handle taking over slicing meat to be dried?”

Izuku wiped his mouth and nodded, so the two traded places. It was a good thing too because where he was, he couldn't see Katsuki tackle the buffalo's head, cutting off the horns and handing them to Ochako before cracking into the head to scoop the brain into the bowl he had set aside.

Once the remaining meat had been sliced and placed on Eijiro's stomach, Katsuki told Izuku to go away. He liked Ochako. She had no issues with the messier side of preparing supper.

“If you want, you can remove the hooves. We use them as cups.”

Ochako seemed surprised at this but readily went to work, asking him for advice on how best to do it as she went along. Katsuki was a patient teacher as he scrambled the brains, liver, spinal cord and some fat until it was like a paste. Bare handed, he began rubbing the mixture over the skin.

They heard retching again. Izuku had tossed his stomach again after seeing Katsuki working with the skin, despite being a distance away. The blond shook his head, scoffing.

“Can I try?” Ochako asked after she finished removing the hooves. Katsuki immediately handed her the bowl. She was small and happy, but she was already showing she was a force to be reckoned with when she needed to be. He respected her. “Why do you have to do this?”

“Have you ever dried fur and had it be really stiff and you can't use it?”

“Yes,” she admitted sheepishly.

“This mixture keeps it soft and flexible so if it's a cloak, you can wrap it around you.”

“That's really interesting!” Ochako said honestly as she began rubbing the mixture onto the skin. “You're really smart, Bakugo. And a good teacher.”

“Kiri!” Eijiro trilled in agreement from where he laid, still drying the meat strips.

Katsuki said nothing more, the tips of his ears pink from the compliments.

 

A couple of hours later, the buffalo skin was laid out to dry. Even though it was nearly dark, it was still warm out. Ochako had used the buffalo feet as soap molds, Katsuki noting her creativity. It took the three others to make their supper and he hoped they had other areas in which they could make themselves useful.

Eijiro, now in his half state and wearing Katsuki's extra pair of pants, had dried the meat perfectly, and Katsuki had packed it away. They had been extremely efficient that day and the lord was exhausted.

Katsuki retired to the bedroll he set up earlier, groaning as he laid down. Eijiro shyly laid on the other half of the fur blanket.

It had been awkward earlier when Eijiro had asked where he should sleep now that there was a group of them.

Katsuki had replied, “with me.” He knew sleeping with someone could mean sleeping next to someone or sex. But he had forgotten he had only told Eijiro the sex part.

He had quickly amended it with, “I meant beside me.” but the damage was done and they had both gone red.

Eijiro laid down facing Katsuki and the two shared quiet whispers. Katsuki thanked him for finding food and drying the meat, while Eijiro told him how happy he was to have new friends, like Ochako, who had slipped him a sugar cube from her personal stash while he had been drying meat.

Katsuki fell asleep first and Eijiro watched him for a minute before closing his own eyes. Not quite asleep, he rolled to face away from Katsuki and had only been laying that way for a short time when a weight settled on him. An arm had been draped over his side and was holding onto him tightly, a leg between the redhead’s. He was pressed against the dragon's back and Eijiro felt every outline of the warrior's body.

Every. Outline.

Eijiro reached behind him and poked the hardness pressing into his lower back. Katsuki let out a low groan against the back of Eijiro’s neck. The dragon's eyes widened as his body erupted with shivers even though he wasn't cold. He felt it twitch against his back, but he didn't know how to react. Was he even supposed to?

Katsuki’s breathing told him that he was still sleeping. So Eijiro laid there, eyes on the trees that lined the clearing they slept in, half hoping someone would wake Katsuki up soon because he didn't know what to do. The other part of him was curious because it was giving him the same feeling as he had earlier when Katsuki ran his hand over his stomach, and he wanted to know if Katsuki had felt that feeling too.

Eventually Prince Todoroki approached their bedroll. He laid a hand on Katsuki’s shoulder and found himself on his back in the grass, the warrior looming above him with his scimitar against his throat.

Todoroki didn't seem fazed. “Your turn to watch.”

Katsuki got off of him and nudged Eijiro in the back. “Wake up, dragon.”

Eijiro sat up in the bed and tried not to look to see if Katsuki’s problem had gone down.

But Katsuki was already making his way to sit by the low fire. Eijiro gathered up the blanket they had been using and wrapped it around Katsuki’s shoulders to ward off the slight early morning chill that had finally settled in.

“Go get my cloak.” Eijiro hurried to grab it. When he returned with it, Katsuki waved him off. “Use it.”

Eijiro smiled at him and wrapped the cloak around himself, burrowing his face into the fur trim. He realized then just how much it smelled like Katsuki and he felt that gnawing possessiveness start to rear its head.  

But it settled as Katsuki started talking to him. As expected, he addressed the issue of Eijiro shifting in front of the others, making the dragon admit the shame of not being able to contain the Red dragon feelings.

After that, Katsuki relented, turning the conversation to lighter things. There was no importance to the words. It was just a way to pass the time and remain awake. It was mostly stories, such as little Katsuki making his own trades for the perfect beads for his necklace of Eijiro's baby teeth, and Eijiro replied with how he had gathered a childhood collection of ribbons, which had been left in the Clan's camp.

Even with the others lying nearby, it felt like they were the only two in the world. But as dawn broke, Katsuki got up and kicked his companions awake.

After protesting from Izuku who wanted to keep sleeping, the group ate and packed up their campsite before continuing on with their journey.

Chapter Text

The weather hadn't been terrible when the group had first found each other, but it was over the next couple of days that they felt the temperature rising higher and higher.

The only one who seemed unaffected was Eijiro as he was in his dragon form and hence impervious to heat, as all Reds are. The rest of them were all drenched with sweat, even Katsuki who after packing up his cloak, had the least amount of clothing on. His upper body had already bronzed with it being midsummer and living outside.

Living outside also meant he knew where to find reprieve from the heat. Desperately needed relief came when Katsuki steered them off their path to a small lake that he knew wasn't far.

The collective, excitedly gasped as they crested the hill and found themselves looking at sparkling water.

“Can we take a swim?” Izuku looked at his companions, hopeful.

“That sounds amazing! Can we, please?” Ochako chimed in, her face glowing in excitement. She hadn't gone swimming in what felt like ages.

“That's why we're here. We can swim then go along the lake. It feeds a creek that we can follow for a while.”

They dismounted and untacked their horses. Eijiro shifted into his half state as soon as Katsuki was off of him, not bothering to clothe himself. The group was already used to him by this point in their journey.

Izuku, Tenya, and Shouto removed their clothes until they were down to their braies while Ochako was clad only in her chemise. They all ran into the water.

Katsuki was a little less reserved than their companions, peeling off every article of clothing he had on.

Ochaco yelped and spun to face the other direction.

“Your brazenness is shameful!” Tenya yelled as he too turned away.

“Your face is shameful,” Katsuki retorted as he waded into the lake.

Todoroki wasn't paying much attention to them, busy lathering himself with Ochako’s handmade soap. Izuku didn't avert his eyes and Katsuki heard a very dragon like growl from behind him but chose to ignore it.

“Keep in mind,” Katsuki called everyone's attention, “there's probably dragons in this lake. They won't be much larger than fish but they are harmless. If you kick something accidentally, just apologize to it. Waters are friendly. They are still dragons though.”

“Are there really that many dragons roaming freely in these parts?” Tenya asked.

“We've passed dozens on our journey so far.”

“We have? I haven't seen them!” Izuku gaped.

“Reds are the largest dragons in existence. Others might only be a foot long but they're there. Shouldn't you know that since you're a scholar, Deku?”

“There aren't many documented small dragons. Only the coloured ones like Reds, Blues, Greens; gems like Topaz and Crystal; and metallics like Gold and Silver. Waters, as you call them, might have been confused for a type of fish. Can you point the dragons out next time?” He asked eagerly.

Katsuku shrugged. “I can.”

 

Of course, because Izuku was on the lookout, no water dragons appeared. Katsuki told the green haired man it was because no one liked him. But in reality it was most likely because of Eijiro.

Small dragons had little fear of humans and have been known to approach them while traveling. However, Reds were a vicious sort and highly territorial so other dragons avoided them at all costs, especially those little ones. After all, Reds have been known to eat other dragons.

Eijiro wasn't looking for dragons to eat though. He was more concerned with making sure their companions stayed away from Katsuki.

They swam most of the day. Katsuki was itching to keep going. Restlessness and a constant need to move on was in his blood. Relaxing like this was to be done once they reached their location. But Tenya was just as restless and after twenty minutes of swimming he was ready to continue their quest.

So Katsuki decided for everyone that they would stay there until the next day, just to piss off the knight. And so they took a break from swimming to get a quick meal of dried buffalo before setting up camp for the night.

Having spent the last couple of days stretching the buffalo skin with Katsuki, Ochako felt confident enough to scrape the remaining brain paste off the skin by herself and hang it over a smouldering fire after they swam.

As she was keeping busy, Katsuki and Tenya decided to teach Shoto how to fish, which was more of an endeavor than they had expected.

Eijiro offered to gut them to make more lures like Katsuki has taught him in the time they travelled together before coming across the other four. Feeling comfortable with that, Izuku joined him after all the bedrolls were laid out near the fire Shoto had made.

Eijiro, being a dragon and normally eating his food raw, ate the fish innards that weren't being used as lures. It was the same to him as eating bits of vegetables like humans snack on while cutting them up to cook.

Neither Katsuki nor Eijiro had thought it was gross, but it was the reason Katsuki told Izuku to help him. Unlike the buffalo, Izuku had no issue gutting and beheading fish.

That is, until Eijiro tipped his head back and dropped raw fish organs into his mouth while Izuku watched on in horror before running off to empty the contents of his stomach into the bushes.

Having been watching and waiting for that, Katsuki's laughter could be heard all the way from the lake.

Once the innards were eaten, Izuku came back and after making sure the fish were skewered and ready to cook, he spoke to Eijiro. They had been making small talk the entire time they worked together, but something had been eating at him and he had to ask, though he was worried about how the dragon would react. He had heard about the temper of Red dragons.

“Eijiro?”

Eijiro looked over at him, signalling he was listening. “I was wondering if you could shine light on something I've been wondering.”

“What is it?”

“Are you and Bakugo together?”

Eijiro blinked. Humans were weird. And blind. “No. He is catching fish and I am here with you.”

“No,” Izuku amended. “Are you mates? Do you love him?”

Oh. That changed everything. That gnawing ache of possession flooded through Eijiro as he realized why Izuku was asking. Red clouded his vision and coursed through his veins.

He had been right in reading the green haired man’s eyes and mannerisms. He wanted Kiri's treasure. Scales began taking over his body as he fought against himself. Not wanting to succumb to his urge to attack. It was building and building up inside of him.

“Yes, I love him. He is treasure,” he said in a strained, gravelly voice.

As a rule, Red dragons didn't love. He had actually been told all dragons were incapable of love. He felt like it had been said in that way so he wouldn't think that there was anything wrong with him if the Red in him overruled the way he had been raised by his Thunder.

He wasn't sure if it was love. All he knew was how he felt about Katsuki, even if he didn't know the words - he was the greatest treasure Eijiro had ever found. Izuku was not allowed to have what was his. He would say whatever it took to keep him away. It was overpowering and it made him want to hurt Izuku for even looking at his treasure.

Er rasvim! Er noachi, wux achuakosj faessi!” Eijiro's voice thundered as he snarled at Izuku. Draconic spitting out of his mouth like venom. His face had darkened until he looked as murderous as he felt.

“Kiri.” The commanding tone sliced through Eijiro, effectively capping his aggression.

His put his full attention on Katsuki as he approached, barefoot with his pant legs rolled up, and a plank of more freshly caught fish.

“Kiri, you good?” Katsuki looked Eijiro up and down, noting the influx of scales.

The concern spread warmth through Eijiro's body, soothing him. He could see clearly and the fire in his veins smoldered. He felt his scales receding as he gave Katsuki a smile. “Yes. We were talking.”

Katsuki gave Izuku a hard look before handing the slab of fish to him. He turned his attention to Eijiro, who was looking wide eyed and almost scared. He tugged him to the treeline where they could speak without the others overhearing.

“What is it?” Katsuki's voice was low and the shifter closed his eyes to focus on it.

“I don't know. I feel charir.”

Charir,” Katsuki tried.

Eijiro's lips turned up in the corners. Katsuki's voice was always rough, assertive, and to Eijiro always pleasing to listen to. But hearing him speak Draconic was just so right. Like it made his world more complete.

Charir." Eijiro nodded. “Red.”

“You feel red?” Katsuki clarified.

“Can I think on words?”

Katsuki nodded. He'd broach the subject in the early morning when they had watch. He headed back towards the group. He got over halfway back when he called over his shoulder. “You coming, charir darastrix?”

Eijiro's face threatened to split in half with his smile. Katsuki called him a Red dragon in his language. He had never felt as much pride as he did in that moment. Most times, being a Red wasn't a source of pride for him. He knew how awful they were as a whole, and what was expected from him based on the colour of his scales. And he knew how he almost acted towards their companion, their friend. But when Katsuki called to him, he felt accepted.

 

Shoto hadn't proved to be overly useful to their party, his rich upbringing meant he had been exempt from chores and doing things himself.

But when they all set out to wash their clothes, he proved surprisingly adept at it, particularly blood. He worked quietly but diligently, helping everyone after washing his own.

Everyone had switched to a second set of clothes except for Katsuki, who had given his to Eijiro. The latter had switched to his full dragon form. Katsuki was entirely in the buff but retired early to his bedroll, his cloak nearby in case he needed to get up. He hadn't cared about his nudity even earlier that day, but now Eijiro seemed determined to keep him covered. In dragon form though, Katsuki couldn't ask him what changed, but he had a feeling it was regarding his freak out earlier.

Eijiro curled up next to the bedroll. Katsuki fell asleep using Eijiro's foreleg as a pillow, back pressed against the scaly red stomach. They slept soundly, laying together until Ochako shook them awake. Katsuki was getting better with being woken up, not leaping to attack immediately knowing that it was most likely one of them.

With a yawn Katsuki sat up with his blanket draped across his lap. He leaned back against his dragon as he poked the fire with a stick. Eijiro's tail wrapped around, effectively pinning Katsuki in place.

They stayed like that for a while, stoking the fire and keeping watch. Eijiro never had to wake up but he did without complaining. It had become their thing to watch sunrises together. But in the meantime, it was still dark and they had been on the road long enough that Katsuki knew what his dragon wanted.

It was rare now for Eijiro to be in full form, but when he was, Katsuki would regale him with stories. With his enhanced hearing, Eijiro would listen to their surroundings while Katsuki would tell him stories of his childhood; stories that had been passed down generation to generation; or sometimes quietly sing him songs from his Clan. He had to be careful what stories he told. No dragon hunting out of respect, and nothing about his mother, who treated Katsuki rougher than Eijiro liked.

Katsuki had just finished telling him about how he used to pretend there were dragons nearby and would make “dragon footprints” by stepping down into mud, pivoting his foot to each side of the print to make it look like big, three toed feet. He had been younger than he was when he met Eijiro.

Eijiro nudged him gently with his muzzle. Katsuki looked up at him and rubbed his knuckles against the scales there, a trick he had learned a few days prior. Scratching did nothing because of the hard scales but the pressure of his knuckles caused the dragon to let out low groans, same as if Katsuki did it to his ears.

Katsuki tapped him affectionately where he had rubbed when the dragon groaned.

“You're going to wake everyone up,” Katsuki rolled his eyes. Eijiro huffed and blew smoke out of his nose into the warrior's face. “Oh fuck off, you overgrown lizard.”

Katsuki rubbed his knuckles across the dragon's muzzle again for a second before placing a kiss where he had rubbed. He hadn't thought about the action, instead doing what felt right in the moment.

But there was a tingle and suddenly those weren't scales under his lips.

His lips were on Eijiro's very human nose.

Katsuki immediately pulled away. Showing affection to a dragon was one thing. It was like having a pet. It was another to kiss Eijiro's human face. It was too personal, too intimate.

And Katsuki wasn't sure what to do with the emotions he was feeling when the half human was asleep in his arms, feelings that were already stronger than what he'd felt with Camie. Had he been fully human, that would've been one thing. But being dragon, even one that could shift into human, toed some interspecies lines. It was confusing even though Eijiro acted the same as when he was in dragon form, it was different for the warrior though. Especially when Eijiro was naked.

Like he was now.

Katsuki took his cloak off and wrapped it around Eijiro only to have the dragon climb into his lap.

“This… what… Kiri!” he stammered, a little red.

“Dragons lay on their treasure.” The toothy smile Eijiro gave almost made his words go unnoticed.

“What are you talking about ‘treasure’?” Katsuki asked once he replayed the words in his head.

The red of his cheeks were visible even by firelight. “Izuku and I were talking earlier. He… I told him you were my treasure.”

“You told him that?”

Eijiro nodded, a little unsure of how Katsuki was going to react. He spoke slowly to make sure he didn't mess up his words. “Red dragons like me have to have treasure. Mina said we would kill to have it even. I promised I never would, but I wanted to hurt Izuku because he wanted my treasure. I understand what it means to be a dragon now. It scared me a little. But that feeling of red is inside all Reds, I just did not know. You make it all different.”

Katsuki held his dragon for a while, staring at the fire and thinking.

Everything he knew about Reds until Eijiro had been negative. Wild Reds destroyed everything in sight over treasure. It was as if they knew the worth down to the last coin. There was hell to pay if even one went missing. They killed each other over it. They lived, breathed, and died for their treasure.

And Eijiro considered him to be worth all of that, worthy of being called a dragon's treasure. His chest felt warm. He didn't know what to do with the information.

Eijiro started to pull away, afraid he had overstepped but Katsuki held him tight. “That doesn't mean you expect me to stay in a cave all the time does it?”

Eijiro laughed and thumped his tail on the ground. “No no no!” Katsuki watched his dragon curl up more as he laughed. His happy red eyes met Katsuki's. “Stay the way we are.”

“It's not very proper for a dragon to call a hunter, ‘treasure’.” Katsuki pointed out.

“You care what is proper?” Eijiro asked as he snuggled into Katsuki's chest.

“I am proper at all times,” Katsuki told him, doing stiff arm movements in mockery of Tenya.

Eijiro dissolved into giggles as he tried to keep his voice down so no one would wake up. Katsuki kept his arms around his scaly half dragon as his laughter diminished. They gazed at each other for a long moment before Eijiro whispered “Noachi. Treasure,” in a voice as soft as his eyes.

Something had shifted between them. Neither knew what it was exactly, only that they could feel it. Katsuki carefully moved Eijiro's body to face the east as the sun started to rise. Spiky red hair poked at his neck as he rested his head on the warrior's shoulder.

Once the fiery colours of the sunrise started to fade to blue, Katsuki murmured in Eijiro's ear, “go get dressed before I wake up the others.”

Eijiro nodded and got to his feet, dropping Katsuki's cloak and padding naked to their makeshift clothesline.

The blond’s eyes were on him as he dressed and he didn't look away until a sharp toothed smile was aimed at him.

With his mouth set in a scowl to distract from his pink cheeks, Katsuki got up to get dressed as well before kicking the other members of their party awake, starting with the tin can.