Tender is the knight

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Warnings/notes: Shydeman/Kai-stern (pseudo-consensual), Kai-stern - Rath, Tetheus - Kai-stern, ooc.

Disclaimer: I don't own Dragon Knights.

(!) Spoilers for Tetheus' family.

written at 31st october 2005, by Misura, for the livejournalcommunity 30kisses (theme: good night)

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It isn't, Tetheus has discovered, particularly hard to arrange for a 'coincidental' run-in with Kai-stern. Alfeegi seems to have been satisfied with his report, for once -that, or Alfeegi's simply given up on trying to make Kai-stern turn in a report that meets his high standards. (Neither seems very likely, when Tetheus thinks about it, which is why he doesn't.)

However, it's next to impossible to do so while Kai-stern is alone, not accompanied by Rath, or Ruwalk, or one of the dozens of other people who've always been around the Castle, but seem to have never spent any great deal of time with Kai-stern before.

Tetheus wonders if he never just paid all that much attention to Kai-stern. (He knows that he's always been paying attention to Kai-stern, but the alternative, that Kai-stern is avoiding him, seems both illogical and irrational, and thus is something he prefers not to consider.)

x

Seven days after their departure from Delano's keep and extensive guest-list, Kai-stern began to feel the tiniest bit of doubt. Tetheus being Tetheus, he was reasonably sure that his claimed reason for being here -to protect Kai-stern against some demon-assassin- was at least based on something approaching the truth, only Kai-stern knew as well as any diplomat that 'truth' was something easily stretched.

Added to the fact that none of Kai-stern's sources had even hinted at the possibility of his having drawn enough to attention to make him an even bigger target for demons than he already was by being the Blue Dragon Officer, this could only mean that Tetheus wasn't here solely to watch over Kai-stern.

Lord Lykouleon, of course, would have to be aware of Tetheus' second -but actually prime- reason for having sought out Kai-stern's company, or else he'd never have provided Tetheus with that oh-so lovely written (and oh-so nonsensical) message for Kai-stern, informing him that he was to heed Tetheus' advice in all matters that concerned security.

It was no secret to the Lord that, of all Officers, Kai-stern got along best with Tetheus. In fact, Kai-stern could remember with reasonable clarity that he'd hinted once or twice that a mission with Tetheus would be his idea of a vacation -provided there weren't too many demons involved. (Just one would be great, really.)

Tetheus' feelings about him had never really come out into the open -until now, that was. Because here Kai-stern was, on a mission that hadn't even required him to draw his sword a single time yet, and here, too, was Tetheus, with some vague cover-story and the Lord's explicit command that he was not to stray from Kai-stern's side for longer than a few hours.

A match-making scheme hatched by Lord Delano might have been less subtle, but not by much.

Kai-stern barely managed to keep a straight face when Tetheus proposed for them to take a room for two in the inn where they'd be staying that night, so that any demon who tried to sneak up on them would have that much of a harder time doing so unnoticed.

x

Ruwalk is nervous, when Tetheus asks him about Kai-stern, because the first thing Kai-stern does upon his return is to report to Lord Lykouleon, and if there's anyone who knows what was said during that verbal report, it's Ruwalk.

Tetheus doesn't even try to beat around the bush; he simply states that Kai-stern has been acting strange, and that he wants to know why.

Ruwalk flinches. Ruwalk fidgets. Ruwalk makes suggestions about nice places to dine in Draqueen.

Tetheus sighs and goes back to following Kai-stern around, waiting for his chance.

x

Kai-stern had seen Tetheus enraged, nervous, frustrated, worried and even, on one memorable occasion, flustered. (Dragon-eyes, it seemed, held a special kind of magic that could make even the most cool-headed Dragon Officer stumble over his tongue while trying to keep the birthday-surprise Lord Lykouleon had planned a secret.)

However, he'd never seen anything quite like Tetheus trying to be romantic. The experience wasn't exactly what he'd call heady, or even seductive, regardless of how attractive Tetheus might be, but, well, 'the opposite of boring' might go a long way to describing it.

Little things that Tetheus had been doing for as long as Kai-stern had known him appeared to have been forgotten. Kai-stern didn't particularly mind, provided Tetheus still remembered how to hold and use his sword -which he did, as half a dozen would-be bandits could bear testimony to.

There were still plenty of receptions to attend, of course, with lords and ladies to flatter, politicians to lie to and be lied to by in return, and inedible food, but with Tetheus around to exchange exasperated looks with and, sometimes, when Kai-stern was sure he'd just explode and say something inexcusable in two seconds, a hand on his shoulder, a quick touch in passing.

Nothing too overt or obvious -it wouldn't do for Kai-stern to reveal himself as unavailable after all- yet enough for Kai-stern to keep from constantly being on the verge of falling apart (which he never did and never would, either, only he sure felt like it far too often) and to become more and more convinced that Tetheus was really only staying with him for one single reason.

Rath, he realized, would no doubt be disappointed to hear about the number of demons he'd encountered (though on the other hand, the fewer demons Kai-stern killed, the more there were left for Rath). Thatz might be pleased with some of the gifts bestowed upon him by several politicians' wives and daughters, even if the home-made cookies would have turned a bit stale by the time he'd returned to the Palace.

All in all, Kai-stern was in an excellent mood when he and Tetheus left the last city that had been on his list, and not just because there'd be no more receptions and politics for a while.

The sun was shining, there was a bottle -or two- of excellent wine in his saddlebags, and he was in the company of someone who wasn't only attractive and intelligent, but who also returned that attraction.

It looked like the coming five days might just become the best of his life.

x- to be concluded in the third part -x