Title: Shadow Dragon (1/5)
Romance/Drama/NC-17 (for oral sex, soloM, and foul language.)
"He was cold, drenched and very tired. He had neither the time nor the desire to chat with men who had been dead for over two and a half millennia." Draca thought his bad day couldn't get any worse. A birth, a tattoo, a mother's pride, and a lover's comforting touch await him.
Time Line:
Mid-April, 2543 A.S. 13 years after Best Laid Plans.
Sin - 543 years; Draca - 188 years; Kira - 76 years; Gwen - 103 years; Kyris - 127 years

Welcome fellow slashers! Wait... you're not a slasher? You... don't even know what that is? The hell are you doing here, then?

I'd like to thank all of you!I think I've personally replied to all of your wonderful reviews. I think. If for some reason I haven't, I'm so, so sorry! D8 But I love you all, and your kind words help inspire me more!

This is dedicated to my fantastic partner in crime, VoodooPanda, otherwise known on FP as The Thirteenth Floor!

Shadow Dragon

"A mother's love is like nothing else in this world. It knows no law, no pity... it dares all things and crushes remorselessly all that stands in its path."

Crimson eyes gazed incredulously. Lavender eyes twinkled pleasantly, patiently back.

Draca knew – just knew – that this meeting was just one more twist of the knife in an already horrible day. Things had been going so well for the past week. The latest job commission he'd taken on had been accomplished days ahead of schedule (and, consequently, brought a few new priceless treasures into his possession). It had appeared that he was going to return home for some hot sex, with a bonus of a certain Fallen Angel's blood, much sooner than he had expected.

Or so the Vampyre had thought, until this morning.

The day had started off bad and quickly delivered him and his expectations a good, swift proverbial kick in the balls for his trouble. A maid had walked into his inn room just past dawn, apparently not getting the message that he was not to be disturbed. She also apparently hadn't seen his sleeping form through the pitch black gloom Draca had painstakingly created. The curtains had been thrown open to greet the new day, sunlight immediately flooding the room.

A face full of the harmful rays was certainly not the best way to wake him. The thief had come awake snarling like a feral beast, shadows erupting from every surface of the room, ready to maim whatever idiot dared try to kill him. The poor girl was suitably terrified and ran screaming from the room. This, of course, alerted the town to the fact that there was a Vampyre in their midst. And so Draca was forced (with only a few hours sleep) to skip town before they came for his head.

The weather saw fit to match his mood. It had been raining ever since. (Why in the hell did he ever take a commission during early spring, when it rained nonstop in this part of Espyra?) He'd believed the day couldn't get any worse. And then this happened.

Draca had never seen the man standing in front of him before. But even so, he knew his name, his occupation, and hell –most of his life story. He stood eye level with Draca's chest, just a few inches shorter than Sin did. With deep bronze skin, bewitching lavender eyes, and long blond hair tied in a loose ponytail, the man was undeniably beautiful. Femininely so, in fact. The Vampyre never thought he'd ever deem a man as "pretty," but it was the only word that seemed appropriate.

If his looks weren't telling enough, the snow-white wings twitching gently behind him identified the man as an Angel. The gold embroidery in his white Angel garbs, the extravagant gold chain earring, and the gold and turquoise cuffs on his wings and arms revealed him to be nobility.

This was the Archangel Gabriel – the most powerful of all Angels, one of the six Hopes, and –

Draca watched as the falling rain went straight through the man's semi-transparent form.

- he was very, very dead.

"So you're Rona's delinquent nephew." The quiet, melodious voice was accompanied by a kind, sweet smile.

"You mean Vampyre nephew," he muttered sourly in reply. He was cold, drenched, and very tired. He had neither the time nor the desire to chat with men who had been dead for over two and a half millennia.

Lavender eyes widened in confusion, a picture of such innocence that Draca had the sudden violent urge to punch something. "No, I meant delinquent. I'm glad I finally get to meet you, after hearing so much about you."

That caused his inner seethings to pause. "About me?"

Gabriel chuckled – no, giggled. "On some days you're all Rona seems to talk about – how strong you've become; how worried she is about your lifestyle of choice… how you've grown into such a handsome man." The Archangel paused to give the Vampyre an appraising stare. One that he was unsure whether to be flattered or uncomfortable over. Another bright smile lit the man's ghostly face. "I'd have to agree with her on that last point! Sometimes you're all Ambrose speaks of as well – though only in frustration. You are without a doubt the only thief to ever steal something from the Tower's vaults on more than one occasion. That's quite a feat… and a source of endless irritation for a certain High Sorcerer."

Draca blinked owlishly at the smiling blond, utterly unsure of how to take the… praise? "Er… thanks?"

"You're quite welcome! …Oh!" Gabriel held out his hand, revealing the plain leather envelope that he'd brought with him. It was perfectly visible and solid, proving that even as a spirit, Gabriel could interact with the physical world if he desired to (a testament to the man's immense spiritual power that only a Hope could have). It also proved that the rain was falling through him because he wished to stay nice and dry. Draca idly flicked a soaked lock of hair from his eyes.

Lucky bastard.

The blond thief took the parcel from its messenger, examining it disinterestedly. "Rona asked me to deliver it to you," Gabriel explained. "With her slight clairvoyance, she knew you were going to be near my neck of the woods. It also appears she had a premonition about the weather, if the leather binding is anything to go by."

Draca growled lowly in his throat at that. Damn Hopes and their uncanny powers and good luck. He refused to open the letter, however. At least, not while the Archangel was present. His aunt rarely, if ever, sent him a message (far too risky). Whatever this was, it was obviously something very important and very personal. But Gabriel lingered, teeth worrying his lower lip, obviously deep in some inner turmoil.

"How… How is Sin doing these days?"

His already frayed nerves snapped to attention at the murmured inquiry, fire rushing through his veins. "You have no right to ask that question," he snarled, baring his fangs.

Instead of reacting fearfully (as many would have in the shadow of his fury) the Archangel's eyes filled with unveiled sorrow, a pained smile brushing his lips. "No…" he whispered. "No, I suppose I don't. Well, I've completed my duty. Good bye, Vampyre Draca. And… good luck." With a small bow and another agonized grin, the Angel gave off a soft glow, before disappearing altogether.

Draca sighed as he watched the man go, feeling oddly sheepish. He was completely justified in his attack, truly he was. Gabriel was the ruler of the Angels. Surely one word from him could have saved Sin (and countless other Fallen Angels, but Sin was the only one that mattered) from centuries of discrimination and pain.

Just like his mother could have done, and had also refused to do.

Draca shook his head, sending a shower of water droplets from his hair. That was not a road of thought he wanted to go down.

Regardless of whether or not he was justified, seeing the inexplicable sadness in the Archangel's eyes made him feel horribly guilty. Rather like he'd kicked a puppy. He shook the matter away from his mind, knowing there was nothing he could do about it now. The Vampyre found an old, towering tree to escape from the rain for a moment. Once safely tucked away (and resisting the urge to shake off the water like an oversized dog), Draca extracted his aunt's letter from its bindings.

The parchment on which the note was written was high quality material – strong, smooth, and durable – only to be expected when the sender was of such high status. The handwriting was neat and flowing. The message itself was urgent:

'Hello Draca,

There's something we need to discuss. I know that it is dangerous for you, but I wouldn't ask if it wasn't immensely important. My Keep has been sealed for the next few weeks, so there is absolutely no chance that my husband will discover our meeting. I've sent a Traveler's Gem with this letter. It will take you directly to my Keep for this one time only. Please come as soon as you receive this.

With all my love,

Aunt Rona

P.S.: Please mind the weather. It's always horrible this time of year.'

Draca brushed the water streaming down his face from his eyes. A rumble of thunder sounded off in the distance. 'Thanks for the forewarning, Aunt Rona,' he thought sarcastically, an annoyed tic forming in his brow. But his frustration was overshadowed by the conflict that arose within him. Every instinctual fiber of his being screamed for him to toss the letter away and pretend he'd never seen it. Draca had every right to, in his personal opinion. He'd spent years simply trying to keep himself safe from his people. And now Rona wanted him to walk straight back into that hell.

There was a good chance the letter wasn't even from Rona. Perhaps one of the Dragons had discovered she still kept in contact with him, and had set a trap for him. That Traveler's Gem could drop him right in the middle of an ambush for all he knew!

It was suicide. It was insane.

But she needed him. He owed her that much, didn't he? After all she'd done for him – after all she'd risked? It had been Rona who had found him on that terrifying day in the snow. It had been Rona who had taken him to the old oak that would become his Keep – regardless of the consequences. If Deimos or the other Dragons hunting him had discovered Rona, she would've been executed.

Hope or not, helping the "Monster Child of the Dragons" marked her as a traitor.

She was the only being on the planet who the Vampyre could say with one hundred percent certainty, loved him.

Not even his mother was on that level of devotion.

His mother had sheltered him, sure. She'd even given him the fundamentals of survival and kept him safe from his father and uncle's wrath. And for that, Draca would be forever grateful. But he held no illusions that she actually did it out of some matronly love for him. Too many times as a child, he had caught his mother staring at him with an unreadable expression – one that he'd come to equate with her distaste for him. She had raised him for some twisted self-righteous purpose. Or perhaps because of a Dragon's protective nature for their possessions. Hell, she could've done it to get back at his father, for all he knew.

Love was never a part of it.

But Rona was different.

And he'd be damned if he'd throw that away.

The Traveler's Gem inside the envelope was tiny, only about half an inch in length. Fitting, since it only contained enough magic to get him into Rona's Keep and back out again. Draca closed his fist around it, concentrating only on the energy stored within the crystal and his destination.

All he could do was hope that it wasn't a trap, and that this wouldn't go horribly wrong. Like everything else had today.

End Part 1. Walk on, Traveler of Worlds.

That's the start! Hope you all enjoyed it! I can never thank you guys enough for all your reviews and favorites! ^ ^