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Ember

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"Just get out already."

The low hissing from the small vent near the floor increased in volume to near shrieking, the crackling sound of electricity along with it licking at the edges at the opening.

Yugo snickers, leaning back on a computer chair in the empty office they were in, legs propped up on a desk. "Points for trying?"

Kurosaki scowls at him, before looking back and glaring at the vent and looking very much like he'd want to just blow up the wall and be done with it. Yugo bet the only thing holding him back was that he'd have to pay for the repairs.

"This is ridiculous," he mutters, turning away with a huff. "How the hell did it even get in here? Aren't there protection charms here?"

"Seems someone accidentally ruined it and forgot to tell anyone before it was too late," Yuto says, sitting at another desk and giving his propped up legs a look. Yugo ignored him.

Kurosaki rubbed a finger against his temple. "Of course. And thanks to that, some sap ended up electrocuted and now we're stuck here trying to get it out."

"Electricity and metal doesn't exactly mix well for humans," he says offhandedly. Some guy sent to do maintenance on the ventilation ended up carted off in an ambulance after touching the metal. The end result was them being made to get the little monster out.

"Should we just fill the vents with fire? It'll take some work to set up, but it could work."

His swaying comes to an abrupt halt, head shooting up to look at the other two, frowning.

"Yeah, I don't see any other option." Yuto frowns, tapping his chin in thought. "I feel a little bad for it, but it can't stay here. More people can get hurt if we leave it any longer."

Yugo places his feet on the floor, leaning forward. "Hey hey, wait a second, we've barely tried getting it out! There's no need to kill it!"

"Do you have a better idea?" Kurosaki irritably asks, turning to him.

He wilts a little. "Well, no, but-"

Kurosaki turns away from him. "Then we'll go with fire, it's not like it will die because of it, we'll just get it out and then capture it." Yuto nods at his words, standing up.

"Yugo, you stay here and keep an eye on the thing." He gives him a meaningful look that just come off as condescending. "Don't do anything stupid while we're gone."

Yugo scowls at him, but doesn't say anything else, staying put as Kurosaki and Yuto go to get the things they need, quickly passing the small barrier they'd set up over the doorway. He really, really didn't like doing work with them, even less with both at the same time. Why couldn’t Ruri have come instead of one of them? It was more tolerable when she was around.

He sits and sulk for a while, but eventually glance over at the vent. The hissing still continued, the little creature not able to go anywhere thanks to the way back being blocked.

Anger melts away as he remembers how the other two planned to burn the thing out.

He stands back up and walks over, the hissing increasing at his movement. Stopping about two meters away from the opening, he sits down cross legged on the floor, hands on his ankles. The hissing quiets down to growling.

Like this, he could almost make out the creature. It looked cat-like in shape, mouth drawn back in a snarl, long sharp teeth on full display, the two longer fangs making it look like a sabertooth cat, even if they weren't quite as long. Sharp claws dug into the metal underneath it, white sparks leaking out of it's tightly wrung body, bushy tail wrapped around itself.

Yugo felt his heart sink a little. Demon cat or not, it was clearly terrified. Every part of its body language signaling either fear or anger.

He leans down a little to meet the glowing eyes, holding the gaze. "You know, my so-called ‘teammates’ are gonna come back here and try a real unpleasant tactic to get you out."

The thing seems to curl in on itself further, hissing starting back up. Yugo wasn't sure what exactly he was trying to accomplish, but he wasn't about to sit and wait for the thing to be torched.

"And I really don't want to do that, honestly, but I don't have much of a leg to stand on against those assholes. So if you could, I don't know, get out of there before they get back, that'd be great."

His only response is more hissing and he sighs. Of course the thing didn't trust him and probably thought he would hurt or kill it the moment it went out.

"I won't hurt you," he says, voice soft. He puts his hands on the floor, in clear view. "I just want to get you out of here uninjured."

The vent goes silent, the sparks dying down. Nothing happens for almost a straight minute, until the sound of slow clicking starts as the little thing slowly, carefully comes into view.

Yugo barely dares to even breathe as it exits the vent. It really looked like a cat, if a slightly bigger type, it's yellow and white fur almost looking spiky. The tail had a sharp, jagged tip with what looked like tough scales instead of fur. It's bright green eyes was hyper focused on him, following every tiny movement he made.

He tried smiling reassuringly, even if it likely had no effect. "That's it... come on, I'm not scary." He slowly raises a hand, fingers loosely open.

The daemon stopped and stared cautiously at his hand, now within arms length, tail swishing behind it. Slowly it came closer to sniff at his fingers and the possibility of getting his fingers bitten by the large teeth it had passed his mind.

Then, the little creature carefully buffed up against his fingers. Yugo tried not to smile too much like a loon.

He slowly moved his hand up and gently rubbed it’s head with two fingers, making the cat monster close its eyes contently and lean up against his hand as he switched to scratching. It moved to make his hand go to it’s neck and Yugo let his grin form fully as he started to hear purring. It sounded a bit more static than that of normal cats, but the meaning behind it was still the same.

“You’re actually a real cuddly one, huh?” he laughs as it flops over on it’s side.

The moment was broken as pointy ears twitched and pupils narrowed into slits as it scrambled back onto it’s legs. He jerks his hand back in surprise. “Woah! What’s wrong?”

Then he heard the sound of voices and footsteps approaching from the doorway, signaling his ‘teammates’ return.

He muttered a curse. At least the little guy hadn’t rushed back into the vent.

“Hey, hey, don’t worry, I won’t let them hurt you,” he tried to make his voice sound reassuring, hands held in front of him. Green eyes shifted to him as he moved to his knees, making sure he wasn’t leaning over the little monster.

Before he really thought it through, he opened his arms wide. “Come on, I’ll get you outside. They can’t hurt you if you’re close to me.”

Probably. Worst case scenario he’d kick them in the crotch if they tried something.

Green eyes stared cautiously at him, before it’s owner turned into a small blur as it jumped at his chest.

“Woah!” He scrambled to grab a hold of it, one hand supporting its hind legs and the other wrapped around its body. He flinched as claws dug into him, but then it nuzzled it’s head into his shoulder and he decided to forgive it this once.

He ran a hand through it’s fur. “Give thea guy a warning at least,” he says, trying to sound put off even as it gave a chirp in response.

“Hey, we’re back, has anything… Yugo?” Yuto calls out, words turning confused at the end.

“Oh yeah,” he says, turning around. “We’re fine, was just about to let this guy out.” He looks down at the bundle in his arms, who’s body had turned tense at the other two. He runs his fingers carefully over it’s fur in what he hopes is a reassuring gesture. “You might wanna keep your distance though, he doesn’t like you two.”

Kurosaki and Yuto stare wide-eyed at him, jaws hanging slightly open and if he takes just a bit more pleasure in seeing that than he should well, that’s his business isn’t it?

Though after a while he grows tired of them staring at him in silence and blinking, so he starts walking towards them at a careful pace, so the furriness in his arms won’t get scared.

They finally snap out of it when he gets closer, Kurosaki taking a step back and glaring at the daemon in his arms. “Don’t you dare come closer with that thing.”

Yugo gives him an unimpressed look, stopping before he got closer. “Then move, I said I was getting him outside, didn’t I?”

Yuto blinks in confusion. “He?”

Yugo pauses. “Oh yeah, I never checked.” He looks down at the cat creature, who stared back at him with its wide eyes. “You got a preference?”

Silence met him, but he got the feeling it didn’t care, so he went with that.

“Don’t think he cares. So, you gonna move or what?” They do actually move, stepping back as he walks to the wall, pausing to rub at the runes making up the protective barrier with his shoulder. Thankfully he didn’t need to worry about stains, praise enchanted clothing. When the faint blue sheen has disappeared, he walks through and down the hall, towards the stairs, the sound of two pair of footsteps following him from behind.

“When did you carry around calming brews?”

Yugo looks back at Yuto, confusion painted on his face. “What are you talking about?”

“How else did you make it so docile? It was ready to bite and shock us if we came any closer just minutes ago.”

He tilts his head in thought, absently running his thumb back and forth against the fur. He didn’t actually know why the cat decided to trust him, even letting itself be picked up. “Uh, I talked to him?”

Kurosaki gave him what was probably the flattest look he’d ever seen on the guys face. “Talked.”

“Yeah?”

“And nothing else? No sedatives or anything?”

“Do I look like a potion seller to you?” He raised a dubious eyebrow at them, stopping in the hall. If they thought he was the type to carry around a bunch of elixirs and herbs then they needed to get their eyesight checked. Sure, he had some of it, but it was salves meant for light healing and pain relievers, nothing major like mood control.

“Definitely not.” He frowns at Yuto’s flat response. His voice turned more serious. “But how do you know it’s still not dangerous? It’s still a beast that could seriously hurt you.”

Yugo stares flatly at them, then looking down at the bundle in his arms. Said scary monster was currently staring blankly back at the other two, tail swishing lazily back and forth. It’s body was relaxed in his arms, leaning against his chest.

“Yeah, you got me there. It’s so threatening, you’d think it was about to bite my arm off at any moment,” he says flatly, turning on his heel and continuing to walk to the entrance.

“But still! Just because it’s docile now doesn’t mean it can’t change at any moment!” Yuto says, running up behind him.

“Who is the one currently holding it? Plus he’ll get mad if you keep yelling or scare him.” He can see the door ahead. Just a little more and he can go home and won’t have to spend any more time with these two today. “I’ll just put him outside and we’ll be done.”

He hears Yuto give an exasperated sigh, but he ignores him. The guy worried too much over little things, seriously.

Finally reaching the door, he pushed it open with his shoulder, having to put his whole body weight to open the heavy door. He sucked in a deep breath of the fresh, wonderful air, the breeze feeling great on his skin. Spending hours in a stuffy office building wasn’t what he would consider an enjoyable way to spend his Friday.

He skips down the stairs, instantly feeling energized again. Crouching down, he let’s the daemon hop out of his arms, but to his surprise it didn’t immediately run away, turning to him and sitting down, staring back at him.

“You better be grateful, I’ve spent about 4 hours tracking you down to get you out of there, so the least you could do is not get stuck in a building or something again. I may not be there to carry you out like damn royalty again if you do, you hear?”

Kurosaki’s muttered ‘oh my god he’s actually talking to it’ is heard, but resolutely ignored with a frown. As if he hadn’t seen the guy soft talking to birds before. Damn hypocrite.

Green eyes stare at him for a little longer, before it rises to its hind legs, bumps it’s forehead against his, making him let out a surprised noise, and walks off down the street.

He blinks dazedly at it, before smiling and rising to his feet. “You be careful now, you hear!”

It lets out a meow in response before running up a pole and disappearing into the power lines in a crackling flash.

“Now that that’s finished, let’s go home...” he trails off as he turns to Yuto and Kurosaki, finding them staring at him with matching disbelief over their faces. “What?”

He’s met with silence, until Kurosaki lets out a loud sigh, rubbing his temple with two fingers. “How is he not dead yet?”

“Hey!”

“I’m not sure, Shun.”

“I’m right here, you know?”

“And that’s what we can’t belive. How did you think that would ever turn out fine? You could have been shocked or bit at any second!” Yuto says, raising his voice just a little.

“Dude, it was trapped and scared and you two were planning to burn it out of its hiding spot. Of course I’d try something else!” The two at least had the decency to look a little ashamed.

“Aaahh, whatever! It’s fixed and done so I’m going home now!” He turns to walk down the street and make his way back home.

Or he would, if a hand hadn’t grabbed the collar of his jacket from behind, pulling him backwards and making him stumble with a yelp.

“Oh no, we are not explaining to Reiji what happened here. Since you took care of it in a frankly unsafe way, you can tell him.” Kurosaki begins pulling him along, forcing him to walk backwards to not fall over.

“Seriously?! He’ll only chew me out in that quiet, creepy way of his!”

“And that’s why you’re doing it,” Yuto says, walking in front, or behind him, arms crossed and giving him a stern look that only pissed him off. His voice turns just a tad softer at his next words. “We work in groups for a reason, you know.”

‘Yeah, but when the other two members look down on you and won’t listen to anything you say, you start to not give a flying fuck what they think'

Is what he wants to say, but he holds his tongue, settling for wrenching himself free from Kurosaki’s grip and glaring at the ground, not looking at either of them for the rest of the trip.

He wondered when he would finally get to go home.


 

“Aaahhh!! Finally free!!!” Yugo shouts to the night sky, throwing his arms out wide in a stretch.

It was a mystery how Reiji managed to be both long-winded and brief, but man was it torturous to have to sit and have his eyes peeled on you and feel like a child who got caught doing something they weren’t supposed to.

Though he was surprisingly lenient today, compared to other times. Mostly just asking questions, then pondering on his answers for ages and leaving him to sit and fidget, wondering if he said something wrong.

It was incredibly tiresome and thank god it was over.

His bike was sitting at home in the garage for some tuning, so he had to walk home. It was pretty far away, his house sitting on the outskirts of town and he could see big, dark clouds over the horizon, so with a small skip in his step, he started to hurry back.

Yugo loved his motorcycle, he really did, few things in the world could beat driving down the highway or on all types of roads, going further than you could on foot yet more exciting than being in a car. But walking was nice sometimes, the quiet was relaxing and the weather was perfect, at least so far, a light breeze making the trees rustle and the night air was fresh if a little cool on his bare skin.

Plus, getting to move his legs after sitting still for hours on end felt like a blessing.

“What should I eat when I get home?” he wonders out loud, stuffing his hands into his pockets. The scenery had changed completely into a sea of trees and bushes, the only sound being the occasional bug or animal and his footsteps. There’s a rustling to his left he barely notices, stifling a yawn and trying to remember what he had in his fridge and cupboards.

He was so absorbed in his thoughts he didn’t notice the rustling growing louder and closer, until a blurry shape jumped out from the darkness right towards him.

A scream catches in his throat as the thing hits him hard in the chest, claws prickling into his skin and making him stumble backwards and fall hard on his ass.

He didn’t know what he expected when his hands fly up to grab whatever is stuck to his shirt, but soft yet firm fur probably wasn’t it. When he looks down, familiar green eyes was staring at him.

The cat daemon from earlier lets out a meow, retracting his claws so they didn’t stab tiny holes in his chest. His grip lighten up without him realising as he blinks stupidly at the thing currently sat in his lap.

“Well, nice to see you too, but can you not scare the shit out of me in the meantime?” His only response is a thrill, as it jumps off and starts pawing at his arm.

“What’s up?” It paws at his pant leg as he stands gingerly back up, rubbing his aching behind. “Ow, ow, geez you’re surprisingly effective as a projectile.”

It yowls loudly again, making him startle and look down as it starts half-running back the way it came from, only to stop and look back at him before the road ends.

“What?” More meowing, growing in volume and sounding more and more distressed.

He frowns, the worry starting to set in. Taking a couple steps closer to the creature, he tries peering into the woods, but he can’t make anything out. He looks back down. “Is something wrong?”

It’s ambling around his legs, making little distressed noises before jumping through the bush, coming through the other side and looking back at him with a loud cry.

He perks up in realisation. “You want me to follow you?”

Another loud cry.

He frowns, knowing how very stupid it is to follow a monster of any kind into a dark, creepy forest. He could almost hear Yuto chewing him out in his head for even considering it.

But he had a bad feeling and the cat was still waiting for him, tail twitching anxiously, so he threw caution to the wind, took a ready stance, shoot forward and jumped over the bush.

Cat perked up and turned to run deeper into the forest, pausing now and then to look back and make sure he was keeping up. He had to walk carefully not to trip, fumbling with the keys in his pocket when he remembered he had a tiny flashlight on it, keeping it aimed to the ground to draw as little attention to the light as he could.

They walked for a little longer, the trees growing thicker and showing less and less sign of people having been here. He had to climb over fallen trees and up small hills of stone, then shimmy down small slopes.

“Yeah yeah, calm your tits, I’m trying not to break something here,” he says to the yowling cat at the bottom of the hill. He’d tossed away the idea of trying to walk down and was sliding down on his ass instead, getting his pants dirty in the meantime. He’d take it over tripping and blacking out in what he felt was a very spiritually charged part of the forest.

“I sure hope you’re not leading me to a party to get eaten,” he says when he’s reached the bottom, half-jokingly. His response is an irritated ‘phrrpt’ sound, before it turned around and continued on.

Yugo sighed, hurrying after. Hopefully the night wouldn’t end with his liver being eaten from his still warm body.

He stepped through a bush with thorns that stuck through his pants. He got his face scratched by a branch, hopped over a big tree root sticking out of the ground, only to stop as the hairs on his arms raised and a shiver ran down his spine, but not from the cold. There was something up ahead.

His little guide started slowing down, then stopping before an opening between the trees. Now that he wasn’t paying attention to his feet, he could see a weak glow ahead.

His steps slowed down, only to stop completely as he now stood in front of a small clearing, with a small hill in the middle. Something was laying in a heap on top of it, making his legs lock up and brain screech to a halt.

The first thing he registered was the wings. They were half-folded in, thick scales covering the very top, then giving way to smoother looking sections, layered and folded like pointy dragonfly wings. What looked like small veins ran over them, the edges emitting a weak glow, colouring the trees and grass around it in a soft orange.

Then he noticed the tail, curled around the heap and covered in red and black scales, sharper ones covering the sides. What he guessed to be feet was curled up slightly, covered in scales with sharp claws it formed somewhat human looking feet, if not slightly larger than what would be considered normal.

He damn near had a heart attack when he realised it was breathing .

Somehow, it was that information that finally made him snap out of his stupor and walk closer. The nearer he got, the more he could make out, the scales continued up it’s arms and body. Carefully he stepped around and over the limbs splayed out on the grass, finally coming to a stop in front of the scaly heap. He could see a head of messy red and green hair now, bone-coloured horns sitting on top.

That was around the time he could swear his heart actually stopped.

“What the hell?!” he hissed silently, stumbling back.

Because what was laying on a tiny hill in a forest not far from a city and the headquarters of Hunters he worked with, was a fucking dragon.

He had to remember to breathe properly and rub his eyes just to make sure he wasn’t seeing things. He even pinched his cheek as hard as he could.

But it was still there.

What the hell was a dragon doing here?! Didn’t they usually live miles and miles from populated areas?! In giant mountains or old forests and stuff like that?!

‘Oh god what do I do, I can’t handle a dragon by myself, do I call for backup?? But it’s not doing anything, but what the hell is it even doing here, it would be seen from miles away in it’s large form and why is it in human form anyway?! Oh shit isn’t the ones who can change into a human shape like, really freaking dangerous??’

His panicked mental rambling cuts off abruptly as he heard a groan. From the dragon.

Now that he was properly paying attention, he could hear the raspy, pained breathing. And the faint smell of blood that he couldn’t believe he hadn’t caught earlier.

…Was it hurt?

Swallowing back his panic, he carefully walked closer, going down on his knees to inch the rest of the way, putting his little flashlight down on the grass, pointing it away from the dragon. This close, he could almost make out it’s face where it was partially hidden behind scaly arms, twisted in discomfort and pain.

Yugo bit his lip, doing his best to look him(?) over. There was what looked like a deep gash in one leg, dried blood hiding it from proper view, a similar wound on it’s side that was still bleeding slightly and….

He flinched as he saw what looked like a spike buried in the shoulder. A scaly and clawed hand was holding onto that arm so he couldn’t see it very well, but it looked bad and it was still bleeding a little.

Okay, he had some vague idea what happened now. He got attacked, got hurt pretty badly, landed here to maybe recover or hide.

Yugo’s heart twisted as the dragon let out another pained groan, trying to curl into itself only to flinch as the wounds moved into a bad angle.

Did he have anything to stop the blood? He patted himself absently, trying to think quick. His motorcycle jacket wasn’t exactly made to absorb liquid, so….

Fingers stopped on the material of his shirt.

...Well, not like he had anything else on hand.

He pulled off his jacket and, feeling just a little weird, pulled off his shirt underneath.

At least now he could add ‘stripped off shirt in a dark forest in front of a dragon’ to his list of weird shit he’s done in his life. If he lived to tell someone that is, but he tried not to think about that too hard. He did pull his jacket back on so he didn’t feel quite so exposed, the chilly night air raising goosebumps on his bare skin, but it was better than nothing.

Taking out his pocket knife, he gave his shirt a silent apology and proceeded to cut holes in the long sleeves and ripped them off, then did the same down the front, ripping it in half. He put the knife away, figuring it was probably not the best to have out in the open should the dragon wake up.

The shoulder definitely needed immediate attention, but he started with trying to carefully wipe away the blood in the side. It wasn’t as deep a wound as it looked, but it may need stitches. He settled for laying the fabric over it for now, to keep out germs and hopefully stop the blood at least a little.

A look over the gash in his leg didn’t tell him much, but he tied the sleeves around the leg and over the wound tightly. He got barely more than a flinch in response.

Now, the shoulder.

Taking a deep breath, he carefully reached forward a hand to move the scaled one away from the injured shoulder. It was… warm, and almost smooth under his fingers as he slowly pulled it away and he was almost reluctant to let go, leaving it resting on the grass.

He swore under his breath as he got a good look at the wound. Blood ran in small trickles from it, the flesh and skin looking like it was charred and torn up from the hit. It was when he was look that he realised with a jolt that the spike had runes carved into it, pulsing so faintly he could barely make them out.

Well, no wonder the dragon didn’t wake up when he was poking around its body and moving it’s limbs. What he could make out told him enough, the spike obviously made to keep the dragon hurt and weak. It made his chest twist in anger.

His breath got caught in his throat as another groan was let out. But the dragon didn’t calm back down, finally stirring awake and Yugo was as still as a statue.

Eyelids twitched, dragging themselves open halfway to reveal bright, ruby red eyes, unfocused and dazed. They flicked slowly here and there and as they moved to him, he felt pinned in place by pools of crimson, broken up by dilated pupils that quickly turned into slits as it registered his presence.

Lips pulled back into a snarl, exposing sharp teeth as a deep growl rose from his throat. Scaled body tensed up and tried to move, only to flinch as his wounds jostled and the wound on his side and leg opened up, fresh blood staining the blue fabric of his former shirt.

“Aah! Don’t move, you’ll make it worse!” he said without thinking, moving to press down on the wound in his side, making the dragon let out a strangled sound and squirm in pain, only to let out another whine and going still again.

“Man, I don’t know what happened to you, but it’s not pretty. And I’ve seen some bad wounds in my life, trust me on this. Not on a dragon though, that’s a new one,” he’s rambling, but it’s the only thing keeping his head clear right now so he’ll take it.

More growling. This time, definitely more threatening, but the dragon didn’t seem to be able to do much more than lie there. Yugo frowns, removing his hands when the blood flow trickled out and moved back to meet red eyes.

“I’m not gonna hurt you,” he says, voice soft, hoping it didn’t come off as condescending. “I know you probably don’t believe that, but I seriously, honestly won’t. I want to help, if you’ll let me.”

Holding the sharp, fiery gaze was hard, even when they were clouded over in pain, but he refused to budge. The dragon stared unblinking up at him and it felt like it was looking deep into his soul for, something, but he wasn’t sure what.

After what felt like ages, the body on the grass relaxed, if only a little and it let out a huff, head falling back on the grass with a wince.

Yugo took it as an okay sign, smiling in gratitude before turning back to his side. The wound didn’t seem to have gotten worse when he lifted the fabric, so he pulled it around his middle and made a thin cover for the time being, mumbling a quick ‘sorry!’ when the dragon flinched as the tightened the knot.

He gave the spike in the shoulder an uneasy look, meeting the red eyes that had never left him, but they sharpened when he saw where he was looking.

“Listen uh, I’m gonna need to pull this out.” He points to said object, making sure not to touch it. “It’s probably what’s keeping you so weak, but I have to know you won’t gut me if I try or after it’s out, cause it’s gonna hurt like a bitch, I bet.”

Brows furrowed, but he saw his teeth clench as he gave sharp nod.

Yugo licked his lips nervously, edging closer, hands hovering in the air as he tried working out how to best do this. He settled for placing a hand on a scaly arm, the other grabbing the spike in a proper grip. Bracing his leg against the ground, he met the dragon’s eyes. “On three?” He nods.

“One…” He digs his foot into the ground so he wouldn't slip.

“Two…” The dragon clench it’s teeth, clawed fingers digging into the earth. Yugo sucks in a deep breath and holds it.

“Three!”

He pulls hard, a choked roar tears it’s way from the dragon as the spike is pulled out halfway , his hands slipping off the bloody object as he tumble back with a yelp.

The dragon is letting out pained screechs, grabbing at the now glowing spike still stuck in his shoulder, but his hands were shaking and he kept missing, not helped with his thrashing around. Small tears are squeezed out from his clenched shut eyes and oh god he fucked up so badly.

“Shit, shit shit shit-” Yugo hiss, scrambling forward and trying to push down the rising panic in his chest, not helped by the pained cries echoing around the clearing. He yanks away the clawed hand, grabs hold of the spike again and finally pulls it out fully with a last hard tug.

He falls back hard on his ass for the second time today, panting and heart going a mile a minute, grip around the spike tight enough for his fingers to turn white. The sight of blood gushing from the wound made him drop it, scramble to grab the last bit of his shirt and press the fabric hard against the wound to stop the blood. His eyes are stinging and it’s a bit hard to see and this was not the time, damnit.

“Shit, shit, fuck I’m so sorry, my damn hand slipped off, man that has got to hurt like hell, goddamnit,” he’s rambling again despite his throat feeling so tight and he’s breathing hard and his hands are shaking and this is the reason he isn’t a healer, for fucks sake why was he the guy to come across a hurt dragon?!

Said dragon is panting hard, body tense, but it’s eyes are still sharp and staring right at him, brow furrowed.

“The hell are you looking at?” he says without thinking, only to cringe as soon as the words left his mouth. Would rudeness be enough to get him gutted at this point?

Red eyes only blink at him, a stupefied look on his face, mouth parted slightly.

“Why,” the words are interrupted by coughing, but it startled him all the same. It was the first proper words he’d heard from the dragon.

“Why are you… crying?”

Yugo blinks, feeling dumbfounded and wondering what the hell he was talking about. The cut he had forgotten about stings, something he hadn’t even noticed. He raises a bloody hand to touch his face, finding it wet and warm as some stray tears run down his cheeks and land on his lap, which also had blood on it.

He’s crying. Of course he is.

Sniffling, he rubbed roughly at his eyes as well as he could with his still clean wrists, embarrassment clawing at his insides. The other seemed to want an answer however, still staring at him like he had two heads.

“Dunno, honestly,” he replies, looking down at him and going back to pressing down on the wound. “You sounded like you were in a lot of pain and the spike thing kinda scared the shit out of me, so I guess that’s why.”

He blinks at him, still looking very confused, but he resolutely ignore it and turns back to the shoulder, gingerly lifting the fabric to look at the small hole, trying to wipe away some of the blood to see it better. The spike hadn’t been particularly large, but it was still a hole in a body and should be treated as such.

The blood had almost stopped and he watched in fascination as the skin and flesh slowly, slowly started knitting itself back together. It still looked like it hurt alot, if only going by how the dragon had barely moved his position. Wasn’t there something he could do...?

Yugo could have damn well smacked himself when he remembered the small pouches on his belt and the content of one in particular.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” he cursed to himself, startling the dragon without noticing as he quickly fumbled for the clasp on one of the tiny bags at his waist, taking out a small jar. He unscrewed the lid and the scent of herbs and medicine floated up, making his nose wrinkle. But it was effective, relieving pain and helping with healing, at least a little.

Looking back up, he met bright red eyes staring intently at him, causing goosebumps to raise on his skin. Suspicious he would do something? Or had the creature noticed he wasn’t wearing a shirt under his jacket?

…Was it dangerous for dragons? He knew some medicines was bad for humans for various reasons, but was it the same for giant lizard monsters?

“You got any allergies or anything?” The dragon hadn’t said much so far, but he figured he could ask.

Slit eyes narrowed suspiciously at the small jar, body tensing up again.

“Woah whoa! It’s not poison or anything! It’s for helping with pain and healing!” he hurriedly says, waving his hands. “Look, I’ll take some too.” He wipes his hand on his pants, puts some on his fingertip and smears it on the cut on his cheek. It wasn’t something he’d normally use the salve on, but he needed to prove a point here.

“See? Nothing dangerous.”

His mouth was still drawn in a small snarl, but eventually he gave a nod. Yugo smiled, removed the damp fabric and started to carefully dab the salve around the wound, figuring it probably wasn’t a good idea to go poking around inside with his fingers. “Tell me if it hurts.”

The sigh he got as a response seemed to be enough, the dragon slowly relaxing and breathing in and out. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the red and black tail start twitching and the big wings making small folding and unfolding motions. Probably stiff from being still for so long. He paused when he noticed his nose was wrinkled and twitching and he couldn’t help but laugh at how peeved he looked.

“Doesn’t smell very good, does it?” he snickers, laughing more when the sour look was directed at him. “I actually like the smell of herbs, when it’s not too strong, but the medicinal smell I can do without. I’ve been told that when it smells or taste bad, that means it works, but it always sounded like a lousy excuse to me. Why not put a little more extra effort to make it taste or smell nice so it’s not such a pain to take?”

No response, but that was fine, he was weirdly starting to get used to having his red eyes just staring at him quietly. Or that was what he thought, until little chuckles came from the dragon and he realised with a jolt he was laughing. It may have been at him but Yugo frankly didn’t care, mouth stretching into a smile at the sound and the small smile on the creatures face.

“I’m Yugo by the way,” he says, putting the lid back on the jar and putting it away again. He was about to say something else, but startled when the dragon started carefully pushing himself into a sitting position.

“Woah! Watch it!” He reached out without thinking to help keep him steady, the scales and skin warm under his hands but he shook off that thought quickly. It clearly hurt but somehow he got up in a sitting position, coughing and letting out a big gust of air and smoke, making his eyes widen.

“...Neat.”

The dragon gives him a glance, one eyebrow raised. Now that he was sitting up, they were eye to eye for the first time, and they seemed to be about the same height, which was a bit confusing for his brain, since ‘big’ was among the first things you thought when thinking about dragons. His hair fell down around his head in long spikes, a spot of blood near his temple making hair stick to it. Hands reached up and touched… goggles? Was that a pair of goggles sitting on its head in front of the horns??

The dragon removed them from atop his head, looking woefully at them. One lens had a blue star on it while the other was cracked. A clawed finger ran over the cracks carefully, red eyes turning so sad it nearly broke Yugo’s heart.

Carefully, he raised his hands, making the other snap their attention back to him as he moved, hands tightening carefully over the goggles as he reached for them, lips pulling back in a small snarl.

Yugo didn’t touch them though, instead he took hold of the dragons hands, pulling them towards himself and scrutinized the eyewear, moving the others hands here and there to see the damage better. It looked like only the lens was damaged, the metal around it undamaged and in good condition.

“I think I can fix this,” he says, jostling the hand on the side of the damaged lens and making red eyes snap up to him, wide. Yugo smiled at him. “Just need to replace the glass and they’ll be good as new. If you’ll let me, that is.”

He stares unblinking and disbelieving at him for a long moment, before nodding quickly, looking down at the eyewear with such relief and happiness you’d think he cared more about the goggles than his own wounds.

Red eyes blinked and he wondered for a second what was up, until he felt something brush over his fingers, making him look down as well. Clawed fingers were curiously brushing over his skin, leaving a tingling feeling in their wake. The hands were warm and a little rough, the top of his hands sprinkled with small red and black scales. Smooth fingertips ran over his knuckles, the side of his fingers, up his hands, stopping at a small scar on his little finger. It ran in a crooked line down the side of his hand, thin and white from age, back when he first tried out using tools and didn’t always use gloves.

Yugo could feel his face heating up, his heart doing flips in his chest and oh god what is happening?

The dragon's nostrils flared, eyes closing and sniffing, leaning towards him slightly and making him tense up a little. The smell of smoke and blood made his nose tickle, with something else hidden behind it.

“Uh, dude, personal space?” he says, embarrassed by the close proximity, their faces inches apart now and their hands still touching over the goggles. The dragon was warm and nice in the cold night air and made him remember he wasn’t wearing a shirt under his jacket, only increasing his embarrassment.

Red eyes widened before he quickly leaned back and either his eyes were playing with him or he was flustered . Yugo didn’t even know that was a thing dragons could get, then again he’s never met one.

“Sorry,” he says, pulling the eyewear back and putting it back on his head. He’s momentarily distracted by the flash of fangs in his mouth, but he shakes it off.

“It’s cool. Anyway, we should-” he’s interrupted by a guttural growl from the dragon, making him jump as he whirls in one direction, pupils narrowing into slits, tail was twitching on the ground. He raises his hands in a calming gesture. “Woah woah what’s wrong??”

He growls. “Someone’s here.”

“Huh?”

“Not close, but coming near, lots of enhanced weapons.”

Oh, shit. Of course his descent didn’t go unnoticed, of course people would go looking for him.

He startles back to awareness when the dragon starts to stand, teeth clenched and shaking slightly. He didn’t get far until he collapsed on the ground again, breathing hard with his arms braced against the grass.

“Hey, be careful! You’re definitely not fit to walk around, that spike thingy was pretty damn strong!” he says, his hand finding a place on the others shoulder.

“Have to… leave before, they find me… again,” he forces out, body tense and eyes half-lidded, claws digging into the ground.

“Then wanna come with me?”

Red eyes snap up at him in shock. Even he felt surprised, the words had just slipped out without thinking, but he wasn’t about to back out now. The guy was hurt and apparently pursued, he wasn’t about to just leave him out here if he could help it.

“I live pretty secluded, and there’s protective charms and a barrier around the grounds to keep out threats and make it almost impossible to find. It should be safe until you’re all healed up.”

Plus he wasn’t in nearly good enough condition to fight off groups of people, especially if they had weapons. It would take some time before the after effect of the runes wore off and he had no idea how long it had been stuck in him.

The dragon looks at him like he’s crazy, clearly hesitating on whether to trust him this much. But he didn’t have much of a choice if he didn’t want the people to eventually find him, or even worse, die. It wasn’t the best situation and Yugo felt a little bad about it. He didn’t want to be trusted just because it was the only option.

He tries smiling reassuringly, but it probably came off as awkward. “I won’t stop you if you want to leave earlier, but let me patch you up first at least, ok?”

“...Why?”

“Huh?”

“Why would you go so far? You’ve already done so much for me, you should know how easily I could hurt you.” A sad look pass over his face, as a scaled hand reach up to his sternum, bending his fingers so claws lightly touched the bare skin. “You have no reason to trust me, much less welcome me into your home. You have no reason to believe I won’t hurt you.”

“You haven’t though.”

He pause, looking at him in confusion. “What?”

Yugo reaches for the hand resting against his chest, grasping it with his own. “You’ve had a lot of chances to tear my throat out or whack me with your tail, but you haven’t. Hell, you’ve had more than enough reason to, I haven’t exactly been an incredible healer here,” he laughs and the dragon cracks a small smile, which he considers a win.

“So like, I don’t see why you would hurt me later, not like you can right now anyway, or for a while longer. So I’ll trust in that you won’t tear my throat out later, and you’ll trust that I won’t pull anything. Sounds good?”

Red eyes stare at him for a long time, before the hand in his grasp squeeze back and a smile form on his lips. “Okay, I’ll trust you, for now at least.”

He grins. “That’s how it’s gotta be, right?”

Something occurs to him as he helps the dragon sit back up again, poking up it’s head when he’s pocketing his keychain and turning off the flashlight. “Hey, what’s your name?”

The other looks surprised for a second, before he smiles again. “I’m Yuya.”

A snicker comes from him. “What a normal sounding name for a dragon!”

“I like my name, thank you very much.” Yuya pouts at him and the sight is so odd it makes him laugh more.

“Anyway, it doesn’t seem like you can walk…” he says, thinking. He could support his side, but all the major injuries were on the same side of his body. “Maybe I can carry you on my back?”

Yuya gives him a hesitant look, glancing over him quickly. “You sure? I’m not light.” His wings and tail move to emphasize his words. “You think you can handle it?”

Yugo frowns at him, feeling almost offended. “Excuse you, I’m not that weak! I can carry your scaly ass no problem, now get on my back already.”

He cracks an amused smile, but doesn’t say anything else as he carefully shifts to his back after he’s turned to him. It took some grappling and panicked stopping when he hears grunts of pain behind him, but he managed to get Yuya up on his back, arms holding onto his legs.

‘Shit he wasn’t joking,’ he thought, feeling his muscles strain. But he wasn’t about to let the dragon know about that, so he bit through it and stood straight.

“Which way?” Yuya asked, voice right next to his ear, making him shiver, not helped by the warmth that was now encasing his whole back, a stark contrast to his front. The area at his waist that wasn’t covered by his jacket rubbed up against the mix of bare skin and scales. He shook off any thoughts about that , it was seriously not the time!

“Right, right, home. Where do we…?” his mumbles go interrupted by a meow, and when he looked in the direction of the noise, the cat that had led him here was sitting some ways away, looking at them.

“Hey! I wondered where you had wandered off to,” he says, smiling. The cat makes a small noise in response, before walking to an opening between some thick bushes he hadn’t even noticed, looking back at them expectantly.

“You want me to follow you again?” Another meow. “You know I need to go home right? You even know where I live?”

Another sound and a swish of his tail was his response, before it started walking down the path.

“Well, best to follow, not like I know where the hell we are anyway,” he says and starts walking, being careful of his balance and footing. Falling now would be a serious pain in the ass.

“You doing okay back there?”

No response. When he looks back, he saw Yuya’s eyes were closed, mouth hanging slightly open and breathing deeply on his shoulder. He looked more relaxed than when he had found him earlier, thankfully.

Yugo smiled at the sight. Tightening his grip so he wouldn’t drop him, he continued down the path. His muscles would hate him tomorrow, probably his whole body with how late it was and how he hadn’t eaten yet, but somehow he didn’t mind.

Yuya let out an incoherent mumble in his sleep, the arms around his shoulders tightening slightly before loosing up again.

He didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into, stumbling onto a hurt dragon and saving them, but he couldn’t imagine himself doing anything else.