Warnings/notes: Kai-stern/Tetheus (semi-established), ooc, shortie.

Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Knights.

written at 17th february 2005, by Misura, for the livejournalcommunity 30kisses (theme: #10)


It's been five hours and there still hasn't been anyone trying to kill Kai-stern.

Tetheus firmly tells himself that he's happy about that -or, at least, not unhappy. It works about as well as when he tried to assure his tastebuds that the main-dish of this evening's dinner didn't taste like it was a patch of old leather warmed up and covered in vegetables.

Of course, it's not that he considers Kai-stern's safety a trivial matter, or that he'd have no objection to a prospective murderer attempting to end Kai-stern's life. It's just that, well, this occasion, which is called a 'party' for reasons unknown to Tetheus, bores him to death. Figuratively.

He's only here because Ruwalk popped up with some sort of report -which he refused to let Tetheus read and study, strangely- that suggested that an idiot might disturb this 'informal gathering' in the hopes of causing some severe damage to the diplomatic relations between Draqueen and Zulebiggia.

(Tetheus can tell the person in question's an idiot because 1) Kai-stern is about as easy to get rid of as a bad idea, and at least as hard to kill, since Tetheus has seen to it that all Dragon Officers practice their sword-fighting techniques regularly and 2) the death of a representative of the Dragon Lord will not matter one bit to the esteemed Minister of Zulebiggia, let alone keep him from approaching Lykouleon again, as soon as he needs help with anything.)

(Still, some idiots can be very dangerous. Take Rath, for example.)

It's funny, in an unfunny kind of way, but Tetheus thinks that if this evening has brought him one good thing, it's that the next time Ruwalk convinces Lykouleon to declare a communal breakfast -attendance obligatory, on punishment of having Ruwalk come to one's office and make an utter mess of one's papers while chattering about what 'fun' it is to eat together with people who care about you- it won't seem as long.

Initially, he thought they'd have been done in at least two hours or so, when he read that dinner would start at five, in golden-colored ink on Kai-stern's invitation -because, obviously, it would be very undiplomatic and indiscreet to let the good Minister know they suspect there might be an assassin among the 'dear friends' he has invited for the 'celebration', or to suggest that his own Security-people aren't good enough to protect Lykouleon's ambassador, and so Tetheus' official status is that of junior ambassador, obviously not important enough to warrant an invitation of his own.

However, it's been four hours since the soup now -and one since the leather-with-vegetables was carried into the room as if it were a delicacy beyond compare- and Tetheus has a sinking feeling that it will be at least another hour before they'll be allowed to rise.

Not that he's looking forward to 'socializing' with these people; most of them are professional diplomats, which means talking to them is like talking to Ruwalk: every single thing you say can and will be used against you, in such a way that you can't quite protest that -that- wasn't what you meant to say at all. Some of them are still in training, naturally, and some of them are probably retired, yet that doesn't change the fundamental truth that Tetheus is not particularly eager to have them engage him in conversation.

Their wives -well, he supposes that some of them might simply be relatives, but none of them wear the sash most of the older men wear- are hardly a more pleasant prospect. Tetheus honestly doesn't know why some of them have been studying him like a cat might study a tasty bird that's lost the ability to fly, but he does know that he doesn't care for it very much.

Unlike Kai-stern, who, he notes, seems to lap up the attention and then ask for more. It's somewhat strange, as well as a little unsettling, to see how Kai-stern manages to make himself the center of everyone's attention, his voice easy carrying to the other end of the table when he tells a particularly amusing anecdote. At the Palace, Kai-stern blends in with the crowd, when he's not busy dodging Alfeegi or, on bad days, Rath, but here, among strangers, he seems to bloom up.

It makes Tetheus want to stride over to Kai-stern's side of the table and shake his fellow Officer through one another, demanding what's wrong with him, that he reveals himself to people as insignificant and uncaring as these, instead of to those who are his family now, or at least the next best thing.

He doesn't, of course.

Instead, he remains where he is, as hour after hour crawls by, watching how Kai-stern smiles and flatters and winks and generally appears to have a wonderfully good time mingling with the humans Tetheus refuses to think of as Kai-stern's colleagues.

Two hours after midnight, they're finally allowed to leave. Tetheus thinks he'd probably have felt relieved at that, if he hadn't been so exhausted from doing and saying nothing.

In the moonlight, he spots a smudge of red on Kai-stern's cheek, probably a remainder of the Minister's wife's fond farewell. When he points it out, Kai-stern wipes it away, casually, like it has no meaning.

Tetheus supposes that it doesn't, not really.

And they're both tired, so he probably isn't thinking too clearly anymore at this point, even if he's pretty sure he'd be able to handle anyone or anything showing up to try and harm Kai-stern, because it's not his body that's weary and worn down.

All the villains seem to have taken the night off though, so they arrive at their inn without any incidents. Tetheus is almost disappointed, which he takes for another sign of how unfit he is for this kind of missions. Next time, he'll tell Ruwalk to send someone else.

Kai-stern wishes him a good night in a sleepy voice, to which Tetheus replies with a nod. It's only after the door to his room has closed that he realizes that Kai-stern probably hasn't seen his gesture in the dark.


A/N: 10 is the number of hours Tetheus and Kai-stern spent at the reception. Which wasn't exactly in any way significant, but it was the best I could come up with.