Mandatory Vacation

I stood in the hallway for much too long thinking. I only knew it was too long because Dorian found me standing there. He was smirking when I noticed him, “How long have you been standing there?”

“About five minutes, give or take a few seconds.” Dorian answered.

“I take it Reginald told you?” I asked.

“Last night in a meeting. It was Margo’s suggestion.”

“That was supposed to be a meeting about Drake, wasn’t it.”

“It was, and many other things too. You did the impossible, Nox.” Dorian said.

“What was that?”

“The Dragons came to us when Ye Pan died. Not the other way around. You are forgeing us alliances without trying. Reginald has never been allowed in this building, none of the dragon heads.”

I gave him a curious look and he laughed and answered the question I didn’t have to ask. “Mark Green has always been afraid to let the dragons into the building out of fear they’d kill him. It’s Dragon law to kill strong Cesari. They know when you are born. Just as it’s their law to kill half dragons like Drake. But their laws are strict, and succession must progress. Everything in order. If you let one nether or cesari live the remainder life until he or she dies.”

“I know the law. But why do we have Cesari?”

Dorian smiled. “Why do you think Mark Green is leader?”

“He’s the strongest Cesari of his generation.”

“Nox, he was the strongest of all generations, until you were born. Did you ever wonder why your power was so much greater than that of Mark Greens?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t think about it. Figured it had to do with my ability to see the patterns so easily.”

Dorian shrugged, “That’s part of it, but your power is astronomically greater than a 5 Nox. You shouldn’t exist.”

I laughed, “Sounds very much like my life.”

Dorian grinned, “I know son. But because the Dragon controlled you, everyone believes you need to take a break. Wrap your head around it all. Think of it like paid leave of absence, or what the police officers get when they kill a person. Go take a vacation with Alex and your brothers. Find some down time.”

“I’m fine.”

“You are Nox. I see it. But you just had a lot of things drop on you. You just moved, you’ve a three year old coming, two sixteen year old boys to tend to, and a new boyfriend.” Dorian grinned, “A boyfriend!” He rolled his eyes, “I’d never thought I’d see that day. Two weeks – mandatory. I don’t want to see you in the AU building at all Nox. Not a foot inside.”

I sighed but nodded. “Alright, I guess I can manage that.”

Dorian took me by the shoulders and turned me around towards the stairs and pushed me, “Now go. I want to see a tan boy.”

I sighed as I walked. I wasn’t going to sit around and do nothing. I could lie in bed with Alex… I wanted to see him. But he hadn’t gotten back to me at all, but I sent him a text anyway. Maybe he’d answer this time.

N: I have two weeks off, maybe we can spend some of it together – Naked in a bed sounds pretty good to me. What do you think?

The Dragon Heads

I walked to the AU building and was still 35 minutes early. The big official conference room was in a more public area. I was wearing a pair of faded blue jeans, a plain t-shirt for once and my gray hoodie. My hair was still dyed the color of Alex’s eyes, and my nails were painted by my loving little brothers. They’d actually done a good job despite the multi colored phenomenon I had going on. They refused to try the different colors on themselves, no I was their guinea pig.

I sat outside the room waiting. I didn’t expect anyone to be here until much later, but I was oddly surprised when an elderly man sat beside me. His dragon shadow dwarfed anyone’s I’d ever seen. I was surprised no one could see his golden scales they were so bright.

He didn’t’ look at me as he set his hands on his knees, “You must be Nox Sétanta.”

“I am.”

He gave me a small smirk but continued to study the painting across from me.

“I’m Reginald Silverman. Head of the Golden Clan.”

“There isn’t a meeting is there?” I asked, but it was mostly rhetorical.

“No, there is. One that isn’t privy to others, but I asked your supervisor to let me speak with you. She informed me that any time you were given you’d be early, so it gives us plenty of time to talk.”

“The meeting I’m not attending.”

He shook his head, “No, son. This meeting has nothing to do with your actions against Ye Pan. The evidence was astounding, and from the papers that I’ve seen there has been a long history of Pan’s treachery. The meeting is a neutral location for us Dragons too meet and discuss the fate of the Last Phoenix. As I’m sure you are well aware, customs indicate the most powerful Dragon leads the clan.”

I continued. “And usually that show of strength is killing the current leader. Yeah that’s how all supernatural ranking works. You stay top dog as long as you can stay alive.”

“So you see our dilmeia?”

I nodded. “Yes, sir. A venatori hunter killed the leader.”

The man looked at me and smiled, “Not just any Venatori Hunter, son, you!”

I shrugged. “I’m nothing. Just a kid who no one likes.”

“From what I understand you are the most powerful Cesari in generations, you overcame the call of the dragon.” He laughed, and studied the picture across from us again. “But that’s not surprising. Ilsana has been watching you for years even though she should have completed her job long ago.”

“Ilsana?”

“I forget, you know her as Margo here. Ilsana, is my daughter, and your therapist, and once upon a long time ago she was your nanny, Lana, I believe you called her back then..”

I looked at him and frowned, “What?”

Reginald sighed, “I didn’t want to tell you this, Margo was insistent that I do. It was time she said.”

“Time for what?”

“To grow up, Nox.” Margo stepped out of the shadows. “Dad, don’t beat around the bush with him. He’ll hate you for it.”

“Tell me, now!” I demanded of my therapist.

“You know dragons are shape changers. I was sent to kill you and your sister. I couldn’t do it.” She looked at her father. “I couldn’t do it.” She signed and never took her eyes off her father. “I struck a deal with an ally. He was going to kill them for me. I don’t know what he did, but the girl, she vanished, gone. I got there just as your protective energies shout around you. Whatever he was couldn’t touch you. Your sister wasn’t so lucky. He left you there after taking your mother’s memory from her of your sister, and it removed her empathy for you. She didn’t want to care for you which is why she had a nanny. And why she gave you up, she couldn’t stand to look at you even then Nox.”

I shook my head in disbelief. “You fucking messed with my family?” I stood up. I looked at the golden dragon, “And you knew?”

“I knew you were supposed to be dead, but were not. I didn’t know of the twin, nor of the deal.” He looked at Margo with disappointment.”I knew Margo failed in her job, and started a whole chain of events that only pile on to now including the life of the young Drake Pierce. Who, Nox, is yours. A new clan, however small, but a new one has been established. Much like the Rogue Wolves here in New York. I will send you more Dragons who do not want to partake of the clan hierarchy, if that’s suitable for you?”

“Me?”

He smiled. “You have two full Dragon’s already, and in two weeks you’ll have the young nether. Naomi swore the oaths this morning before her execution. I’m taking Drake today after the meeting for lessons. And Ms. Virginia McMillian, she will be moving her allegiances to you as well. While she believes The Dragon dead, she believes you are will take better care of her.”

“I’m not a dragon.”

He stood and clasped me on the shoulder. “Just keep doing what you are doing, young one. It will all work out. I am going to head to your cafeteria and see what despicable food I can find.”

I smirked, “I’d offer to cook for you, but sadly my kitchen is no longer here.”

“Young man, that would be delightful one day, maybe when I return the young nether to you, then.”

“Sounds like a date.” I grinned.

He nodded at me and took his daughter by her elbow. Margo, or Ilsana, or was it Lana, protested. I glared at her. She fucking was sent to kill me, I had a sister. What the fuck!

The Family I Want

By the time I finished the paperwork for Naomi, Emerson and the Dragon, conveniently leaving out Trix, Val and the baby vamp who were all colluding with Ye Pan. I couldn’t forget that Matthew Haskins was there with The Dragon, or the the viking looking fellow who had the strange magic. I made a note to remind me when I walked into my new apartment that I needed to sketch the face of the man who I didn’t know. Maybe Sage could find out who he was. There were players in this game higher than the Dragon I was sure of it, and he was part of it. But who was he?

When I got home my brothers were goofing off with video games and snacking on a pizza that looked like it had seen better days. “That’s dinner?”

“Yep.” Rider said as he jerked his shoulder into his brothers arm knocking him off course. It was almost as violent sitting on the couch as it was in their crash em up game on the TV screen.

I went to my fridge and saw chicken plated with vegetables of varying colors and beer sitting next to it. Laker called out, “We made you dinner, and the beer is from the girl down stairs, said you should join her.”

Rider giggled. “She didn’t believe us when we told her you were gay.”

I laughed, “I’m not exactly gay.”

Laker snickered, “We know, but we like telling people that cause it makes them go. Oh my god, really? Does he know so and so from wherever? Like you and every other gay man knows each other.”

Rider laughed, “Or they don’t believe you and try to convince us we don’t know our own brother. ‘Nah, he’s straight, I’ve seen him with a girl’ And when they describe her she’s Mia or Dee, or even Dae’lin. Really people don’t pay any attention to what gets your motor running.”

I sighed as I took my cold food from the fridge and made my way to the couch with my brothers sitting on it. I sat between them, they moved only enough for me to sit. I could barely move to eat but that was alright. Both of them pressed in against my shoulder in that sort of ‘it’s alright bro’ type hug they were fond of showing me. I wondered what it’d be like if the boys stayed here all the time. I was going to miss them.

Rider smacked the palm of his hand to his forehead, “I almost forgot.” He looked at me, “There is some paperwork on the table Dorian sent over, stating that pending the meeting tomorrow in two weeks Drake can come live with you.”

Fuck! I hadn’t forgotten, but I wasn’t sure that two weeks was gonna work. I was still a fucking mess with the new place. And I was certain that the world was going to get a whole lot more dismal after tomorrow. I killed the head of The Last Phoenix. They called me a murderer. Fuck!

My brothers pressed their shoulders against me again. “We’ll be here still to help with Drake. You got this.” Laker said. Rider nodding right along with his brother, like they could read each other’s mind.

After dinner and one rousing round of playing their silly game with them I started working on that sketch in my room. I kept glancing at my phone waiting, hoping, praying to whatever gods might be listening that Alex might call me. I was getting worried.

I shot him a quick message.

N: Hey, Alex. I got the big bad. Though I think he’s got others working with him. Case solved, I’m free for a little while, if you want to get together and talk. Anytime.

I sighed as I looked at it. When it went through I waited. I don’t know how long before I set my phone on my chest and closed my eyes. I used to dream of him. He told me I did. I remembered some of them. I wanted to dream of him again. To see his blue eyes, to run my thumb over his lower lip. Fuck I just wanted to see him, to hear his voice.

I did something stupid and I called him. I knew he wasn’t going to pick up I just wanted to listen to his voice. I didn’t leave a message but I called back three more times before I tossed my phone across the bed and got up to take a shower.

Where the fuck was he?

I dreamt of Alex. I woke up to deep gashes across my back, and apparently Fee was upset with me as she glared at me when I sat up. “Fuck!” I said as I crawled out of bed and wrapped the lingering blood on the bed up in earth and air and cleaned the bed before sending it off into the trash.

Rider poked his head in rubbing his eyes, “You alright?”

I nodded. “Nightmare.”

“You’ve never screamed before.”

I sighed. “It wasn’t hurting me. Just my dream guy.”

Rider came in and wrapped his arms around my shoulder tentatively and when he didn’t feel anything sticky he dropped his arms to my body and pulled me close. “I’m sorry. Can I help?”

I shook my head. “No. I’m gonna do some yoga, grab a shower, make breakfast and then walk to the AU building to my meeting in the big conference room which you should wear a suit and tie in.”

Rider giggled, “You aren’t wearing a suit are you?”

I shook my head, “No fucking way.”

Rider let me go and grinned, “I’ll make breakfast. Dorian grabbed your list from your cupboard back at the old place and I stuck it above the coffee machine, so we knew what you’d want. That okay?”

“It’s perfect.” I pressed a kiss to my brother’s cheek, “You know I’m gonna miss you when you are gone.”

“I know. Laker too, maybe we can all move out here. I know Dad would love to have you around more.”

“I doubt that. But thanks for that thought.” I said.

Rider shrugged as he headed out the door to leave me to my own devices.

I did everything I said and I even had time to play a quick round of their favorite car racing game. Laker laughed at me, “Dude, you suck!”

“My life wasn’t spent playing video games, wanna run an obstacle course with me, or go around in the boxing ring?”

Laker looked at me and smirked, “I could take you if you didn’t cheat.”

“Do you wanna prove that?” I asked.

Rider started laughing and nearlry choked on his eggs. Lake stood up and offered me his hand, “You name the place and I’ll be there.”

“I’m not going to forget.”

Laker smiled, “Good.” We shook hands and he pulled me up off the couch. “You better get going, you’ll be late for your very important data.”

“I’m never late.” I grinned at him and glanced down at my watch. “I wasn’t even close to being late.”

Laker giggled. “I figured you wanted to be 30 minutes early so you are running late.”

I hugged my brother as I walked past. “Thanks man, don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“You’d probably die of anxiety attacks.” Laker laughed as he sat back down to play another few games with his brother.

Clean Up

The little red laser lights stayed steady over the sensitive areas of my body – my heart, my head and one playfully danced at my groin. I knew exactly who that was and Walker smirked as I looked at him with a sideways grin.

It was my father who stepped between me and the lights blocking all shots and lowering his weapon. “Did you mean to kill that girl?”

I shook my head. “No, sir. The Dragon was controlling me. I tried to stop him.”

“And did you mean to kill the man, this dragon?”

I nodded. “He conspired with at least three other dragons to undermine the human world two disturb the financial market, and one to upset the infrastructure of the city itself.”

Simon spoke behind my father, “There was no contract for him. Only the woman he brought in before.”

Kai turned around and looked at the big black man. “And you’ve never carried out an execution because you had the chance.”

Simon looked at Kai and frowned, he stammered, “Well… yeah… but…”

Emilio Vega stepped up next to my father. “You will pay your respects to Holland’s family.”

I nodded. “Yes sir.”

Emilio smiled and I saw where Dorian got his from, “You will not mention you were the one to do the deed. It was The Dragon.”

I nodded again. “Yes, sir.”

Everyone was clearing out, surprisingly no one from the warehouse below came up, maybe no one was there, or maybe they felt their boss die. But his body was a pile of ash that Walker and Holland’s partner were sweeping up into a bag.

“At least you didn’t burn the place down.” Walker joked.

I grinned. “I could.”

Kai shook his head. “No the Venatori will do an investigation to see what’s going on, we are already taking in the people left here for questioning.”

“There’s a strange magic here. I don’t know what it was, but it’s gone now.” I didn’t dare tell them that Matthew Haskins was here. That was the last thing I needed, was the Venatori to start spouting conspiracy theorist at me. I wasn’t looking to start trouble, but they always thought I did. Bringing accusations against one of our own was a big deal. And who was that man with them? He was the source of that strange magic. He felt vampire, but he was so much more than just vampire.

There was a lot of paperwork to do once I got back to the AU building with my father. He clapped me on the back as I sat down. “Good job son.” He said. I honestly think he was proud of me. Watching me kill a man made him proud. That was not something I wanted him to be proud of me about, but I’d take anything.

“Trix was released while you were out.” Dae’lin said behind me. “The Wicked Truth sent me discharge papers and instructions for her to report to the Night Life building’s tech team to work with and I quote ‘Chevalier’.”

I turned to look at her. “That’s good. I’m sure Wicked let Chevalier know she’s coming. And they’ll take care of it, but I’ll make sure.”

“She should have been tagged and bagged, Nox.”

I shook my head. “She’s only doing what her master told her to do. She was caged in by a baby vampire who Tony is taking care of. Naomi got caught.”

“So did she.” Dae’lin said.

“Maybe I want my own hackers.” I smiled at her.

“You are best friends with the Wicked Truth, you honestly need another one. You know Chevalier. That’s like knowing Il Cane herself, which my fucking god, Nox, you do. You call her by her first name. And Del Figlio. You are in close connection with every power house in New York City. And everyone here still thinks your way is the wrong way. Walker is comping at the bit to follow you around more.”

I groaned. “I know.” Dae’lin said, “You work alone, but think about it. Tomorrow the Heads of the clans will be here tomorrow to discuss Ye Pan’s death and what to do about his murderer. You are expected to be there.”

I sighed. “Yes ma’am.”

Dae’lin shook her head, “And Nox dress appropriately.”

I just grinned at her and she groaned in response. “Please, Nox.”

The Call of the Dragon

I dropped the veil as I stepped inside the room. I knew two of the faces. “One was Ye Pan, the man I’d followed, the second I didn’t know but he was from the second car that had followed Ye Pan into the building, the viking. The third was Matthew Haskins – headmaster to the Academy. What the fuck was he doing here?

The viking looked me up and down and then turned his attention to The Dragon. “I will leave you to deal with your little problem.” He looked at me again with a smirk and it looked like he wanted to say something but just shook his head then left through a back way tugging the headmaster after him. I wanted to know why Haskins was here.

“So who’s your blonde friend?” I asked The Dragon.

The Dragon sneered at me. I don’t know what he was thinking or which one of them was the telepath, though I could take a guess and say it was the blonde. I couldn’t place his pattern either, though it reminded me of Tony’s. Which was not a good thing, Venatori, Primeval Vampire and Dragons colluding together? No that didn’t bode well for anyone.

But The Dragon didn’t answer my question just asked his own, “Why do you have to meddle boy?”

I shrugged. “Cause that’s what I do?” I asked playfully.

He rolled his eyes and then walked over to what looked like a throne, it sat on a raised dias and was the only chair there. It was his throne. “So this is where you come to rule over your minions?” I asked.

He didn’t answer me again as he beckoned me to come with a crook of his finger. I felt a small tug and desire to comply. It wasn’t my natural inclination to obey at work, I knew that. It was something else. The Dragon smirked at me. “I don’t think you are in as much control as you think you are.”

“Maybe.” I said smartly. I knew it was the wrong thing when he beckoned me again and the compulsion to obey was stronger. Strong enough that I took a voluntary step closer to Ye Pan, the Dragon.

His smile grew wider even as I took another step and I fought. But I couldn’t help but go, it was like he moved me with his own flows of magic, like I was his puppet. “You will kneel before me little netherdragon.”

He waved his hand and I collapsed to my knees and supplicated myself to the fucking man. There was no way in hell I was going to allow this, yet I couldn’t move.

Ye Pan stood up and walked towards me, my head lifted and he smirked at me, “All Dragons can be commanded by their betters.”

I struggled against his control. I found it deep inside me. Found that little bit he thought to control. “Didn’t anyone ever tell you, baby nether. You are nothing. I should kill you now. I’d be rewarded. But I want your friends outside to watch as their strongest falls before me – The Dragon, and the Last Phoenix. You will be first and then we’ll take the world by storm with you out of the way.”

He was right about one thing, I was nothing. No one outside that building short of my father would care if I died. He was stupid.

He laughed as I stood up like I was being manipulated by real puppet strings. He was frowning and straining against me as I fought for my own control. I could feel the sweat beading on my forehead. He was sweating as well. He taught me easy prey.

As soon as the glass from the upper windows busted inward I was weaving a net of fire to fling at the Venatori entering. No! I screamed inside me as the fireball flew as a woman repelled downard.

I pulled against the bonds of the The Dragon. He would not control me! He did, but I knew I was stronger, I could feel that. I stopped hiding within myself. I let the power go. Everything I had burned through my body. It hurt. But The Dragon winced and I felt my bond to him crumbling amidst the fire inside. The Dragon fought harder and I sent a torrent of energy up the crumbling bond and he screamed in agony and fell to his knees as the last of the Venatori landed and aimed their laser lights at me. The Dragon screamed, “Save me!”

But no one saved him as I walked across the small gap between us and took hold of his head and smiled sweetly down at him. “The punishment for revealing your brethren to the humans is death.” I said.

“No.” Pan begged. “You don’t….” I didn’t wait for him to finish his sentence that I knew all too well, but you don’t kill anyone, and I snapped his neck with a quick turn and I felt the final hold on me vanish with the light in his eyes. I set the body on fire even as the laser lights till trained on me.

One of the large men in tactical gear removed his helmet and revealed Simon. He was frowning. “You killed Holland.”

I frowned. “He was controlling me.”

It was a poor excuse and I knew it. There would be a trial. I would pay the price whatever the decision was.

To the Docks

I followed the little dot on my phone back to the dock district and watched as his limo pulled into the warehouse Sage had said he was in. A second car followed him in from the other direction and I wondered who it was. I wished for Dorian’s memory and tried to catch the license plate number as it rolled through the doors. I pulled a veil around me and I ran towards the rolling door and slipped underneath just in time for it to click closed with a hissing sound.

I didn’t like the sound of seals closing after me. What were they doing in here?

No one could see him, as I slipped around the edges of the building keeping in site The Dragon and his viking looking friend. He reminded me of Asher Eriksen, but I knew that man by sight, who didn’t in the AU building, it was his building after all. He was the reason I had money in my pocket and a place to stay off campus. He was a brilliant geneticist and businessman.

They went up into the second floor with scaffolding that looked like it should have been temporary but was still in use. Sometimes that happened in this skate by night places.

I used planks of air on the decking so the floors didn’t creek as I walked on them. It was one of the first tricks you learned when you learned about B&Es in the Academy. Don’t let them hear you cause unless you have a good shield on your veil sound still travels. I had been accused of cheating by the other students but I was the only one who got an A in the class. Dae’lin reprimanded me for using my gift in public, and then gave me three extra hours of free time the following day because I’d made her proud. She said it was because I was annoying her, so she sent me out into the world to stay away from her. I think I chose to spend my day with Sage in his little room at his parents place watching him do his own school work.

I tried to extend my senses but there was too much magic. Dragon, wolf, vampire, something else I didn’t quite understand yet, and the hum of power. I almost swore it was demonic in nature, but I’d run across a grand total of zero demons in my time as a Hunter. Which was right about par, my father had never encountered either an angel or demon. But then again, he might not even know there was a difference, he might not care – a marionette was a marionette. Venatori barely cared about the human host.

There were three people in a room. I couldn’t make out what they were saying even with my senses extended, I could barely feel them, which meant someone was veiling them however poorly it was executed.

I didn’t want to slip inside the room, they might see me.

“Or we might hear you Mr. Sétanta.” A voice called out from the room.