Title: No Telltale Heart was Left to Find (1/1)
Rating/Genre: Angst/WAFF PG-13 to mild R (for attempted rape and gore. Oh, and a smidgen of het of the Draca/Kyris variety. I know, it scared me too. O.o)
Summary: A brief interlude that can only be referred to as the "incident with Gwen." Could otherwise be known as the first Papa!Draca moment.
Special Disclaimer: The "Dragon's Lullaby" is actually the song "Sora" by Yohko Kanno. (A fantastic and beautiful song.) I don't own it. It's not mine. I only borrowed it because it is amazing and the translation fits my needs.
Time Line: Indeterminate time between At the End of the Day and Tales of a Fallen Seraph. Between 2458 – 2465 A.S.
No Telltale Heart was Left to Find
"Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine."
It made him sick. Really, it did.
He watched them from across Kyris' pub, unable to comprehend why he even bothered. Kyris herself was also watching them from the vantage point of the bar, but with contented pride rather than suspicion.
"What an adorable couple they would make!" she had said when the two had first met.
Yes, an adorable couple they were – to anyone else who looked at them.
Draca, as he lounged and drank sparingly from his glass, knew better. He watched with open suspicion and contempt.
The man was named Kronos – or something similar, not like he cared. He was mundanely handsome with his light hair and eyes, complete with a gentle, nice-boy charm. Gwen was at his side, standing too close for friendly conversation, smiling and laughing at what the man said. Every time their eyes met, the young Kitsune would grow silent and pink in the face (red, if he smiled at her) and quickly avert her eyes.
Young love. First love, in Gwen's case, if he remembered correctly. She'd never dabbled much in romance, but he supposed that with someone like Sin chasing off every interested party like some murderous mother hen, she was not to blame.
But Sin was not here at the moment – gone on a job that would more than likely last into the next week. And so the two lovestruck young adults had been free to test the waters, as it were, without the looming threat of a scythe blade in the back.
Draca had found he'd disliked the man on first sight. Both Kyris and Gwen had been lulled by the good-boy act, but he had seen through it instantly. He was the master of manipulation, after all. He knew the tricks of the trade, and pinned Kronos the "good boy" as utterly fake. What the brat was really after, however, he couldn't figure out.
The Vampyre wasn't sure why he even bothered with it, and was even less sure why it agitated him so much. Draca had never been close to Gwen – their meeting had been awkward (for him) at best. And since he'd made the mistake of becoming partners with Sin, he'd done his best to keep any interactions with the Kitsune brief and to the point. It was normal for him to be uncomfortable around children, but even throughout her teenage years and now into her early twenties, she made him inexplicably nervous. But out of his three new... acquaintances (Sin, Kyris, and Gwen), the Kitsune was the only one to harbor no suspicion (Kyris and Sin) or contempt (mostly Sin) for him. Whether that fact was good or bad was a complete mystery to him.
Still, like a good partner – acquaintance, whatever – he had shared his views with both women. Kyris had scoffed at him, her suspicions of him roused. He adored her, that woman, but she still was wary of him. Gwen, though, when he finally got up the nerve to actually confront her, had been silent. And then she had smiled that sweet smile that caused something in him to cringe, and thanked him for his concern – but there was nothing to worry about.
He hadn't said a word about it since. The humiliation and confusion was too much.
And so here he sat, night after night since then, observing the man with a careful eye and a racing mind. Three nights ago he had given up attempting to gather information through traditional sources and had taken to perfecting the Vampyric art of mind reading. The going was slow, so very slow, due to the complicated and rather obscure use of shadows it entailed. Draca sincerely doubted he'd be able to master it even in decades – let alone three days.
'But I don't need to master it,' he growled silently into his drink, 'Just a thought is all I need. Just a single thought, and I have him!' With a deep breath he cleared his mind once more, concentrating solely on the man called Kronos – willing the foreign thoughts and instincts to come to him through shadows. He disregarded the cheery, drunken chatter, allowing it to dim around him. Nothing else existed except silence and Kronos. Nothing else would exist until the thief got the answer he wanted.
He wasn't sure how long he sat there in that torturous silence. Time became irrelevant. Soon he was on the verge of giving up, frustrated with his own inability. Why in the hell was he even trying so hard? No one believed him anyway!
But he knew he was right about his. And even though is was unsure if that was the sole reason he was still trying, he continued on regardless. The slimy bastard's light eyes trailed slowly across the pub, and locked with Draca's briefly. In his trance-like state, time seemed to halt.
'That thief is watching me again.'
Draca's blond head snapped up from where it had been resting petulantly upon his hand. He'd broken through! He'd actually broken through! In his shock, much to his sudden alarm, the shallow connection was almost lost. His crimson eyes snapped shut, his mind clenching around the dissipating tendril of connection. He clamped down, concentrated everything he had on it.
Instincts that were not his own whispered through his mind. Apprehension. Lust. Rage. 'Not something that goes wit the nice-boy persona, eh Kronos?' He was careful not to project that thought through the tentative link. It wouldn't solve anything if he was caught. He dug deeper, moving slowly as not to alert the other of his presence.
What he found sickened him.
Images. Imaginings. Fantasies. He'd planned this. Fantasized about it. He'd imagined her face, her pleas, her screams. It brought him pleasure – the sick fuck – to hear her screams and cries and watch her face as he raped her.
"-aca... Draca!" He was shaken from his trance by a firm hand shaking him. The thief opened his eyes, and immediately felt the nausea and the cold sweat on his skin. Pale eyes stared into his crimson ones – concerned, wary – fiery locks framing that matronly face. Kyris. 'Kyris. Bless you, woman!' his mind, his heart exclaimed in relief. So relieved was he that the Vampyre leapt to his feet and lifted the barmaid clean off the ground and into his arms. He held her tight there, in an almost bone crushing embrace, and then he kissed her full on the mouth. Brief, heated, and ignoring her obvious shock and indignation. He released her, set her to her feet and embraced her again, repeating his thought aloud to her. She stared at him in shock and confusion and fury, reduced to sputtering incoherently at him. She didn't realize what she had just saved him from.
He'd gone too deep. Draca had almost completely immersed himself in the twisted consciousness of that lunatic – almost lost himself. He was still too inexperienced to have attempted to dig so deep and keep his own mind. But even so, the knowledge he had gained because of it...
The rest of his brain seemed to finally catch up with him, and he whirled around. Sick dread rose in his throat as he realized, with mounting horror, that Gwen and that bastard were no longer in the pub. "Where is she?" he hissed anxiously, unknowingly cutting Kyris off as she was (undoubtedly) about to make some threat on his person.
"What...?" she asked instead.
"Gwen – where is she?"
"Oh. She... she left. Kronos was walking her home."
"What?" his voice rose indignantly, gaining the attention of a few remaining patrons. "When – how long ago?"
'Oh fuck, please tell me I'm not too late!'
"N-not five minutes ago – Draca wait! You can't -" But the Vampyre was already gone – dissolved into shadows like a black mist.
For a few moments Kyris stood there, unsure whether to hunt him down to demand what had happened or throttle him for taking such liberties on her person. Instead of doing either, she stomped her way back to the bar to clean glasses, using her frustration to make them sparkle blindingly.
She was still grumbling when a familiar quiet voice made her jump minutes later. "Is something wrong, Kyris?" She set the glass she'd been abusing down down hastily, turning to face him.
"Sin!" she exclaimed, "You're back early!"
He nodded, and Kyris knew his eyes were gauging her spirit. "What is it?"
She motioned him to sit down at the bar. There was a lot she had to explain.
She hoped he wouldn't kill the poor boy for having an interest in Gwen.
The world zipped by him in a blur of dim color as he moved at blinding speeds through the darkened alleyways of the Haven. His heart was pounding. His head was spinning. His breathing was quick and panicked.
Where the hell were they? He should have caught up to them by now! How long had he been running? Five minutes? Ten? Why hadn't he caught up?
'If anything happens to her...'
What – Sin would kill him? Oh, to be sure – but he didn't care about that. What then? Why did this irk him so much? Why did this send his heart into his mouth, his lungs bursting from his chest? Gwen didn't need him – didn't want his help or his care. He felt very much the same about that. It had been that way ever since he'd come to the Haven indefinitely. She made him uncomfortable – he didn't understand her. He didn't -
"K-Kronos stop...! W-wait, stop it!" The panicked whimpers reached his ears from the next street over.
His heart leapt into into his throat.
He rounded the next corner in a skid, and took one look at what lay in front of him, before a feral rage consumed him. 'Fucking bastard will DIE!' He had crossed the little back alley in a mere blink of an eye, grabbing his victim about the throat as he went. The bastard didn't even realize what had hit him, and was slammed into the alley wall with the force to snap more than one of his ribs.
Draca knew, and took quite a bit of satisfaction in, that he was quite intimidating and even nightmarish when he was enraged. He could feel the cool silk of his shadows writhing against his heated skin – menacing, anxious for the kill.
The slime ball opened his mouth, to beg, to scream – he didn't care. So he silenced the man momentarily, his voice an enraged snarl. "Do. NOT. Speak. There is NO excuse for what you have done. So take your punishment in SILENCE." His pale hand knifed forward, easily tearing through the man's sternum and into the cavity of his chest. The thief's fingers curled around his prize, and ripped back.
There was a certain terror, he'd imagine, in seeing you're own beating heart torn from you chest in a bloodied shower. The Vampyre took great satisfaction in watching the bastard's face contort in agony and horror; in watching his limbs spasm and flail in the beginnings of death throes. His mouth opened in a scream, and Draca did the first thing that came to mind.
He shoved the bloody organ into his damned treacherous mouth.
And Kronos died slowly, each moment stretched out to eternity before the abyss finally took him.
The Vampyre Draca took a moment to calm is furious breathing, his shadows devouring the blood that had spilled onto his person. It was only when he was clean and calm that he turned to face her.
Gwen sat huddled against the far wall, clothes torn, trembling in shock and terror – but otherwise intact as far as he could tell. A new kind of dread filled him then – hesitant this time. She flinched as he approached her, her amethyst eyes – panicked, broken, frightened – shot up to his own. He nearly stepped back at what he saw there – the despair, the fear. The fear of him? Had his display of violence scared her?
"Are... are you all right?" He felt so stupid for asking it, but what else could he say? "He didn't... he didn't..."
He couldn't bring himself to say it, but she understood him anyway. Her head shook slowly. Relief flooded through him. He held his hand out to her to help her to her feet. 'Safe,' his mind whispered, 'You're safe, hatchling.' The intensity, the finality of the thought of the thought paralyzed him. It came unbidden to him – it terrified him.
Something of that thought must have shown on his face because, to his horror, the young Kitsune's eyes filled with tears. 'Oh, shi-' was all he had time to think before Draca found himself with an armful of distraught Kitsune. Torn between concern and throat clenching terror, the Master Thief tried to both scurry away and move closer. In the end, it only unbalanced him, and he fell most ungracefully onto his rear.
He sat frozen there upon the back alley ground, muscles tense and mind gone frighteningly blank. Gwen's sobs reached his ears; grating, cringing. He didn't know what to do! Gwen's arms were cinching tighter about his waist. Her head buried deeper into the folds of his overcoat. Her tears soaked him, her sobs were ragged, relieved and grateful. He tried, in vain, to gently nudge her away, but failed miserably.
Nothing left to do, his long arms came up tentatively to rest around her back and shoulders. The Kitsune's body sagged further into him, and the Vampyre's body tensed further – if that were possible – in response.
Gaia, it was so awkward. What should he do? He had to calm her down.
"W-Win dain... a lotica... En v-val turi..." The words flowed from his mouth – soft, hesitant. He'd never sung the Lullaby for someone else before. Not with the well-being of someone else in mind. You weren't exactly supposed to. The song was in the ancient dialect of the Dragons after all. Such things were only meant for family and lovers, or so his mother had always told him.
He reached the second verse without any further hitches. The words came easier to him and no longer seemed strange to be singing them to the young Kitsune. No, in fact it -
It seemed right.
A flurry of footsteps caused him to look up, and he winced.
Sin stood at the alley entrance, panting as if he'd sprinted at top speed the entire way from the bar. His ruby eyes were frigid, murderous, and alert. For a solitary moment Draca was acutely aware of just how the situation would look to Sin. But did the assassin come to kill him – for following Gwen – or Kronos – for taking an interest in her?
'Perhaps both,' he amended, seeing how the man's glare intensified upon Seeing him. From what seemed like a world away, he felt his arms tighten around the sobbing girl's shoulders, a wave of vicious protectiveness washing over him. 'Don't touch her,' a hissing little whisper threatened to escape in a growl, 'Stay away!'
Doubtless this... thing he was feeling was visible to Sin's eyes, fro they widened ever so slightly. Those ruby orbs flew to the still cooling, bleeding body of Kronos. The man glanced between them, caught Draca's steely, ever-staring gaze with his own. An eternity seemed to pass in that moment, until Sin finally stepped over to investigate the dead man's body. He said not a word. Neither did Draca, save for the soft melody that continued to flow from his lips.
And Gwen continued to cling to him, seeming to not even notice that Sin had appeared.
The days after that crept by slowly, in the way that idle life in the Haven only could. The five days since that incident (for that was the only way he could refer to it) were spent in a strange daze for Draca. Things had all but fallen into place since then – or perhaps out of place, he still wasn't sure.
Kronos' body had been properly and quietly disposed of – compliments of a certain Master Alchemist – and anyone who asked where the young man had gone was given a glare of pure murder. They stopped asking after the first two days.
Sin still regarded him with suspicion and contempt, that much had not changed. But there was a different kind of suspicion in those eyes now. Something searching and hoping and...
It creeped him out, so he avoided the damned man at all costs.
Gwen came to him on the third day after the incident, still looking shaken but determined. A part of him admired her strength – she had lost her parents to disease not a year earlier, and now what had undoubtedly been her first love had all but betrayed her in the worst possible way. And still, she was standing – if a little emotionally battered. The Kitsune was silent for a moment before thanking him, sincerely, while he stared at her – half afraid that she would snap and "attack" him once more. She lapsed into silence once more, but refused to leave.
"What?" he asked, exasperated.
She seemed torn for a moment, and then: "Teach me."
"You know how to... read people. How to see through them. How to use them. How to manipulate them. Teach me. Please?" She paused, bit her lip, her large fox ears drooping. "I don't... want to be tricked again. So... please?"
He rubbed the back of his neck. Why in the hell would she want him to do this? "Why not ask Sin or Kyris?"
"Because they don't know like you do. Sin knows through Sight. That's not something he can teach. Kyris doesn't know as much as you. And," she smiled wryly, the old Gwen shining through this strangely timid one, "they'd just baby me and tell me it wasn't my fault. I'm an adult now. I've got to learn to take care of myself. I doubt you'd baby me. You never have."
'Oh, wouldn't I?' he couldn't help but think.
But he gave in, in the end, with much reluctance. He had no idea how he was going to teach her the lesson she wanted, but he agreed.
And Kyris? Ha.
Kyris had, upon the first time seeing him since the incident, ran from behind the bar and embraced him tightly. She'd thanked him, breathlessly, for saving Gwen.
And then she'd stepped back, with a resolutely grim expression, and smacked him with enough force to send him sprawling. She'd set him work with a rag, cleaning glasses until she was pleased with their shine. The reddened hand print took a day and a half to disappear completely.
He should've expected it, really.
Bless that woman, for making something seem normal.
Seduction is often difficult to distinguish from rape. In seduction, the rapist often bothers to buy a bottle of wine.
Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.
Like I said, just a short little interlude to usher in the next story.
I like feedback! ^ ^
Thanks for reading!