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Crown Jewel

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Graphite wasn’t a conventional dragon by the traditional senses of the word. He wasn’t some omnipotent creature that would give gifts to humans. It seemed like such a waste of resources and energy to him. Graphite would only gift stuff to the people in CR because he'd sort of grown fond of them, and it was only respectful.

And he didn’t have any sacred domain like a mountain or river to protect or some fucking palace under the ocean. On second thought, the last one sounded cool. He’d think about investing some research on how to pull that off...

The only trait he seemed to share with most other dragons was he’d live forever, or at least a very long time, until someone took him down. Did he outclass other dragons because he came back three times after being slain? Maybe he’d ask Snipe about it. He had traditional style tattoos on his upper arms of chrysanthemums and red spider lilies and one of some kind of tiger-based chimera on his back. He might be knowledgeable about supernatural things.

And he wasn’t even close to the other interpretation of a dragon; not counting his big dragon form, of course, since it was roughly based off a wyvern.

He hadn’t even heard about most of the mythology about the dragons he was based on until he came across it in a concept art book for Taddle Fantasy. After becoming a whole-ass Bugster, he dedicated most of his first year of life to researching. All his time went to studying other Genm games once Kuroto and Parad filled him in on the plan of bringing other Bugsters out to destroy humanity. He wanted to make sure he knew everything about his future allies to figure out their weaknesses, protect them if he could.

Ended up being a total waste, since Kuroto and Parad sprung the big twist to the plan: letting the boss Bugsters get defeated, only after he finished his research. He ended up forgetting some of the things he read, but the idea of keeping a hoard stuck with him for some reason. Something about the illustrations of serpents the size of Elder Dragons from his game, curled protectively over piles of gold and jewels puzzled him. He didn’t understand what was so good about shiny things or helpless royalty that it was worth hiding them away and protecting them at any cost.

He had no use of material goods, so wealth was worthless. There was a slight fascination with shiny trinkets, but he attributed it to his host instead of any draconic instinct. Pearl necklaces and charm bracelets were staples of Saki’s outfits, after all.

And he saw no point in keeping royalty alive… As Kiriya would say: “eat the rich.” At this thought, he worried briefly for Nico, given Kiriya’s close proximity to her most times while they were working. He mulled it over for a few more moments, before deciding their strange friendship would be a buffer. Kiriya would take out the other shareholders before laying a hand on her with the intention to hurt. Maybe they even had a deal worked out. Apparently, the others had been giving Nico a hard time, if the gossip he overheard between the two of them was reliable. He still didn't understand why Kiriya wanted to eat human meat when Graphite had gotten pretty good at making his favorite meals. He brushed it off, shaking his head. Might be some other human thing he didn't get, but was beneficial to both of them.

Graphite knew he didn’t need to fulfill any requirements of any mythological dragons to qualify as one. And honestly, it all sounded strange and kind of boring or stupid to him. But the idea of a hoard just wouldn't leave him alone. He wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe he should start one? Just to see what it was like. Slake his curiosity to get rid of it, or keep it going if that was really where his life was heading now. It’s not like he had to collect the traditional things.

Saki’s old collection of manga and anime videotapes came to mind. They might still be in the Genm basement since he… appropriated it from her old room. (Hey, it was all his now, since he was technically Saki). So he already had a solid start on a hoard of anime merch. He could even count Kiriya’s tacky, vague anime reference shirts as part of it since they were living together now. Nisshi had thankfully(?) saved them, and most of his other belongings from the trash when Kiriya was being evicted after his “disappearance.”

The only real qualifier for hoards was being made of precious objects, and Saki’s tear-stained, worn down volume of JoJo where Wham died came to mind as a good candidate to be a ‘crown jewel’ in the loosest sense of the term. The more he thought about hoards and what he considered precious, the more he realized he had two. Counting the anime collection, of course. But this second one was infinitely more important. (Maybe not infinitely, that volume of JoJo still hit him hard whenever he saw it, but definitely more important.)

Graphite smiled at the thought. His hoard wasn't conventional, and he couldn't care less. His treasure glittered, but not from the sparkle of precious metals and gems. It was the spark of the sun’s reflection across the ocean during walks on the beach, the sun warming him almost as well as the arm around his waist did. Other things in his collection gleamed as well. Lights haphazardly thrown around the apartment during the holidays, the soft glow of the television during late night movie marathons, and the way the lights in Kiriya's eyes sparkled or danced when he was particularly passionate about something. Graphite felt something electric spark up his spine as he realized it was usually when Kiriya's eyes were directed at him.

He didn’t have to steal any of his treasures. The most stealing that ever happened was during especially cold nights (which is every night if you’re cold-blooded). Curled up in a warm bed, hunkering down to absorb as much body heat as he could from his bedmate before stealing all the blankets to keep the heat in. But even then, he gave into the playfully outraged cries and tugging at his tightly-wrapped blanket armor, opening the covers to cool air and a slightly chilled body, that quickly warmed with soft kisses and giggles as they drifted off.

There weren’t even fine clothes or armors in his collection that he'd inexplicably seen some illustrations of dragons with. They were too big, so why would they even need dwarven mithril armor? Maybe they could shapeshift, too. Regardless, he had something more practical. Piles of aloha shirts and tank-tops with a fresh detergent smell that he pulled from hangers and drawers, arranging them in nests to curl in. If Kiriya wanted to spoil him, he’d dash around the apartment 'til he found Graphite, knock him over and dump a hamper full of laundry fresh out of the dryer on him.

Graphite’s hoard was happy memories. Things that were so few and fleeting in his previous life and at the beginning of his current one. The only thing he did sort of traditionally was having a person as the crown jewel of his collection. The most valuable treasure, the source of everything in his hoard was a small man that he would give anything for. And if Kiriya were a dragon, he was sure Kiriya would agree Graphite was the same for him.