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Even Dragons Have Their Ending

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adam lambert, au, big bang, kradam, kris allen

Even Dragons Have Their Ending III

Into the Swamps, Livingstone

Lake Cataouatche is pretty as lakes go, Kris thinks when Cook pokes him awake from behind.

"I just want to tell you guys, Cody is a bit strange," David warns, "He's been on his own, in the bayous for a long time, he's not really a sociable person."

Kris turns his whole body to look at Cook. "Just how strange are we talking?" He fixes a stern eye on David who squirms a little.

"Well, he's sort of a throwback," he says, "to way back."

Kris groans, "You mean we've got a crazy marsh man leading us on this?"

Cook grimaces and shrugs. "He's not crazy, just a little odd." He looks over at Adam. "He's not gonna lose his shit if he sees a dragon, let's just put it that way."

The ramshackle house they pull up to doesn't make Kris feel any better. He glares at Cook. "I hope you know what you're doing," he tells him.

Cook's face is like stone as he replies, "I am prepared to bring Satan on as a partner if it means we can rescue Archie." Kris can't argue with that so he climbs down and watches the front door warily.

When it opens, Adam moves casually in front of him, protecting him without thought. It makes Kris feel a bit better about everything. The man who comes out of the house doesn't though.

Cook's uncle looks like he's dressed for combat, in camouflage and boots and a hat with a peculiar sort of bush hanging off it.

"Bonjour, mon ami," he calls from the porch and David waves.

"Bonjour Cody, ca va?" Kris finds himself surprised yet again when he hears Cook speaking Cajun.

"Tres bien, bien sur. Et vous?" Cody looks somewhere between thirty and sixty and Kris isn't anxious to get close enough to find out.

"My friends don't speak Cajun, Cody," Cook tells him and he nods.

"Welcome to de bayou," he says, nodding to Kris and Adam, "I'm Cody Curole." He steps forward, offering his hand.

Adam moves to return the greeting. "I'm Adam Lambert and this is Kris Allen," he says, motioning to Kris who holds his hand out.

"You're de man dat Davy be in business with," Cody announces and Kris nods.

"Yeah, we've been partners for a while now. He's a good friend." He smiles at Cook who is still watching his uncle carefully.

"You good, Cody?" he asks warily

"Mais weh, Davy. Laissez les bon temps rouler. We be heading out now if you want to get into de bayou and Jean Lafitte 'fore night fall. It not be an easy route and we'll best be taking de pirogue so we not alert dis bon rien." The Cajun roll in Cody's voice seems to fascinate Adam who is hanging on each word.

"Okay, let's get going now." David is impatient and Kris can understand his feelings. The person he loves is in danger and he just wants to get to him as quickly as possible.

Cody guides them down to a small jetty and the pirogue moored at the end doesn't look nearly stable enough to Kris' doubtful eyes.

"That's going to hold all of us?" he asks and Cody grins.

Kris can see where Cook gets his smile from. "Don't you worry none, shâ, we be good." He motions and Cook leads the way, climbing in and moving to the back of the pirogue, sitting in front of the small outboard motor.

Adam waves at Kris, who follows Cook into the boat. "I won't be joining you in the pirogue. Water isn't really my favourite element." Adam looks at Cook and asks, "Do I need to worry about freaking your uncle out if I change?"

Cook shakes his head. "He's lived on the bayous all his life, there's not much that will surprise him."

Adam turns back to Cody. "I'll follow you all in the air if you don't mind."

Cody shrugs and curls his lip, "Dôn matta how you be travellin' but I don't got no airplane."

Adam tips his head to one side and tells him, all teeth, "I have my own wings."

Cody just nods. "Dat be okay den, you say you can fly?" He doesn't seem particularly surprised when Adam pulls off his jacket and t-shirt, hands them to Kris, and the tattoos start bulging out and the air fills with lightning. The loud sound makes them all clamp their hands over their ears and their eyes burn with the smell of the smoke.

Then the dragon is there, crouching on the ground, blue-black scales catching the sunlight and rippling with rainbows.

"Choooh! Dat be a most interestin' sight," Cody states in fascination. "I don' believe I ever seen a dragon on de bayou."

Cook asks dryly, "You ever seen a dragon at all, Cody?"

His uncle looks down at him and nods, "But de caimon is de master monster in de bayou. He be family of de dragon." He looks at Adam consideringly and asks, "Be some of your kin on dis bayou, dragon man?" Kris envies the ease with which Cody accepts that a dragon is sitting on the ground in front of him.

yes Adam hisses in his mind, my family are here, ready to help when we need them

Cody looks up and says doubtfully, "I don't know, dragon man, but it be hard to hide a beast, even in dis bayou."

Adam bares his teeth and says, I will be high enough not to be seen. Dragon eyes are very sharp.

Cody nods in agreement. "Dragon eyes be like eagle eyes den?"

The dragon's voice purrs softly in Kris' head, don't worry about how easily he accepts me, Cody is an unusual man. He is open to the strangeness of the world around him.

Kris isn't comforted by the fact that it appears as though Adam can read his mind. only in dragon form Adam assures him and then he leaps up into the air with a push of legs and a sweep of wings and he's going up, up, up until he vanishes into the clouds.

"Choooh, dat be a wondrous sight indeed." Cody remarks as they watch him disappear and then he climbs down into the pirogue, taking his spot at the front. "My life here, it be quiet, but I am much grateful to you for bringin' de dragon man here."

Cook nods, pulls at the motor cord and they chug out into the swamp.

They're on the water for a while when Kris decides that he needs more information, so he asks Cook to tell him about Archie.

"What do you want to know?" Cook asks suspiciously.

"Everything, especially how you discovered that he wasn't human." Kris needs to understand Adam from a human standpoint and Cook is his only point of reference.

Cook sighs, "I only found out about what he really was, about two weeks after we started seeing each other. By that time I was crazy about the kid."

"Tell me how you met him," Kris asks and Cook smiles, remembering.

"He was lost on Bourbon Street and looked like such a tourist with his map and the panic in his eyes. I was coming in to work and asked him if he needed help. He was so grateful and I couldn't just leave him out there on his own."

Kris thinks back and remembers that Cook had taken a lot of time off over the past few months. "Instant?" he asks and the grin is his reply.

"Totally. I never expected to fall in love with someone that quickly, but it was like something inside me recognized him immediately." Cook looks over at Kris with a smirk, "Kinda like you right?"

Kris grimaces, but persists without answering, "What about him being a Drakkin? How did you feel about that? When did you find out about Adam? Come on man, I'm shooting blind here!"

Cook sends him a grim smile. "The Drakkin need to change form every couple of days, to preserve the essence of the beast apparently, according to Archie. They're animals and need to hunt and feed. The change requires a lot of energy and most Drakkin live outside of cities because of this but some of them, like Adam, are sentinels. They watch over the Drakkin all over the world, making sure that they don't break human law."

Kris can feel his brain imploding with all the information. "Did you know that Archie was a prince?"

Cook concentrates on steering the pirogue into the dense swamp for a moment before he replies, "Yeah, he told me that the same day he showed me his Drakkin form." He looks out at the deep green of the swamp and says, "He's young and he's probably scared and I'm worried for him. He's not prepared to be a political statement."

Kris tips his head up and back, trying to spot his own personal dragon in the sky. "We'll get him out. Adam seems pretty ruthless."

Cook takes a breath and says, "Archie was nervous of Adam. He always talked about him like he was some kind of superhero to his kind." His mouth quirks up in a rueful smile. "Honestly, it made me a little jealous to see the hero worship there, but I think Adam is Archie's only hope right now."

"Dat dragon man, he be cray, shâ," Cody drawls from the front of the pirogue. "Dere be darkness in dat man."

Kris sighs, "I think that I'm already in so deep, it doesn't matter." He looks back at Cook again and asks, "What does a phoenix look like?"

Cook's smile is sunshine bright. "Man, he's so beautiful! He's this bright red bird, about the size of a peacock and his tail feathers are every color of the spectrum and then some that I don't think I'd even be able to name." He shakes his head. "He's this thing that just takes my breath away and the fact that he's not human doesn't matter to me at all." He sounds amazed and Kris silently agrees with him, although he thinks he's maybe having a little more of a freak out now that Adam isn't with him.

I am right here the soft hiss in his mind reminds him and he flinches. you are afraid?

"Not exactly," he doesn't realize that he's said it out loud until he sees Cody looking back at him in question. "Sorry, Adam's talking to me." The bayou native nods and turns back to the water. "How do I talk to you?"

your thoughts are like words to me the dragon tells him softly. think and I will hear

what are you planning to do once we've rescued the prince? Kris is afraid of the answer.

it is not something I have considered Adam admits, I wish to complete this mission before I plan anything else

well consider it then Kris thinks resentfully and hears the deep chuckle like a stroke across his mind.

I will, but please let that wait until after we get Prince David safely out of danger It's not a question but Kris is prepared to accept this as the olive branch it's meant to be.

The day is turning into twilight when they reach the outskirts of the area in Jean Lafitte which Adam had pinpointed. Cody motions to a thick cluster of mangrove trees and Cook guides the pirogue there. Kris looks up, trying to spot Adam but the sky is deep indigo and the stars seem to blind him.

I am here Adam tells him and Kris sees the smoke and lightning from the trees and then Adam's tall frame. The pirogue bumps up against a fallen tree and Cook throws the mooring line to Adam who catches it and ties it firmly to a tree.

"Do you have my shirt and jacket?" Adam asks Kris as he clambers out. Kris opens the duffle they've brought with them and hands him his clothes. Adam pulls them on quickly and then holds out his hand to Kris. "My mark is burning. Please?"

Kris flushes at Cook's snorted laugh but he steps up close to Adam and entwines their fingers. The press and pulse of the tattoos make him shiver a little and then he feels them settle.

"Thank you," Adam whispers, squeezing his hand and Kris nods.

Cody looks between the two of them. "You be de dragon man's mate?" he asks.

"Yes," Adam says.

"No," Kris replies at the same time. Cody just nods as though he understands and Cook makes another piggy sound from behind them. Kris flashes a glare at him and he just shakes his head.

"Yes," Adam insists firmly and Kris looks at him, but Adam's eyes are intent and certain. "Yes."

"Dôn matta," Cody assures them blithely, "Just wan' to be sure of de lay of de land," and he's off into the darkening grove of trees, Cook close on his heels.

Adam gives Kris a look and says, "No matter what, we are mates. It may not be a permanent thing, yet, but for now, this moment, this time, you are mine."

Kris narrows his eyes and pins his gaze on Adam. "Whatever, man. We'll discuss that later." He's being deliberately off-hand but he's not happy with Adam's autocratic attitude. He's not going to let himself be walked over.

He hears the tattoos hiss before he feels them roll beneath his palm. "Stop pissing me off," Adam warns him, "You won't like me when I'm angry."

"You and Jack Nicholson," Kris snarks back and Adam laughs softly, pulls him along and they follow Cook and Cody into the bayou.

It's about two hours of hard trekking by the time they reach the edge of the mangrove and see the rundown cottage sitting in the middle of a wide open part of the bayou.

"Dis be de place," Cody tells them quietly, "De caimon like dis place, it be good for huntin'." He points to the swamp and Kris sees hundreds of eyes reflecting the moonlight. He feels his skin crawl and then realizes that it's the dragon's mark that's moving again, restless and hot.

"My kin," Adam breathes and gives a low groan that ends in a hiss and the water moves and ripples and Kris watches as scores of alligators start making their way towards them.

"Uh, Adam?" he asks nervously as the reptiles move in closer. He backs up against the solid warmth of Adam's body and Adam slips his arm around his waist.

"Don't worry, we are perfectly safe here," Adam tells him. Cook moves nearer to his uncle, alert and careful.

Cody watches the alligators cautiously, rifle held at the ready, but they stop before they reach the bank and are obviously waiting for something. Adam lets Kris go and crouches down, hand outstretched over the water. The sounds he makes aren't human and Kris is reminded once more that his lover isn't from this world.

Adam stands back up and looks over at them. "We are in luck. The chief Drakkin in this bayou, Michael, has been keeping watch over the prince and he says that the boy is well."

Kris notes absently that Cook's shoulders slump in relief and then he says sharply, "He's not a boy. He's a man."

Adam inclines his head. "I am just thankful that he is unharmed."

Kris asks, "Why haven't the Drakkin gone in already? Why haven't they rescued him?"

Adam's mouth is set when he replies, "They know that if something went wrong that they would answer to me. I am the sentinel, it is my responsibility."

Kris is getting a better idea of what Adam is to his people. "So you're the one who has to get him out?"

Adam nods. "Yes, I am the only one who can do so. It is our way." He looks out over the bayou to the cottage in the distance. "Michael says that the prince is guarded by two others. He has only been able to identify one of them." His shoulders are tense and Kris finds himself rubbing his back gently between his shoulder blades.

"Thank you," Adam smiles in gratitude and then his eyes harden, "Daniel is one of our King's most trusted advisors. I can only think that he must have betrayed everything he holds dear in order to do this. There is no other explanation." He sounds confused, "I do not understand why he would commit such treason."

Kris knows that the human mind works in far less honorable ways and can think of a few reasons, the worst of which he voices, "What if the king put him up to it? I mean, you said that your king is jealous of David."

Adam looks at him in shock. "That could not be. That sort of deviousness is not the Drakkin way." He turns back to stare at the cabin and says almost to himself, "Our King would not do such a thing. He could not."

Kris keeps his hand warm and steady on Adam's back and lets him figure things out for himself.

Cody says suddenly, "Dere be movement by dat place." He jerks his head towards the cabin and Kris looks over to see a man coming out of the door. They all drop to the ground and Kris watches in amazement as the stranger leaps into the air, transforming into a large yellow dragon as he jumps.

"Daniel," Adam hisses and Kris feels his muscles jump as he presses up against him.

They keep low in the reeds as they move closer to the cabin and Kris absently notes the cold of the swamp water seeping up his legs and into his belly. He ignores the discomfort as they make slow steady progress onward.

"There must be someone else there then," Cook whispers, "They wouldn't leave Archie unguarded." Kris looks over at Adam whose eyes are blue flames in the dull light.

"Yes," he agrees and then his eyes meet Kris', "I must go after Daniel, keep him busy. I need you to go and find my prince."

Kris wonders how the hell he's going to do this when he hears Cook, "Of course. What do you want us to do?" It's as easy as that for Cook. He just wants to get his boy back.

Adam nods at Cook approvingly. "Once I'm in the air and keeping Daniel occupied, you, Kris and Cody must follow Michael to the cabin." He looks down at the largest alligator below them. "If there is another Drakkin there, Michael and his kin will take care of him. You must get to Prince David and get him out."

Kris isn't happy about the part of the plan involving Adam distracting Daniel and sets his mouth firmly. "I don't like it, you being separated from us." He feels his jaw jutting out and then jumps when Adam's arm settles around his waist and he's pulled up close against him.

"I will be fine. I am much stronger than Daniel. I'll be worried about you though. If there is another Drakkin in the cabin…" he trails off and Kris hears a whisper in his head.

stop fretting, Sentinel, your mortal pet will be well protected Kris reckons that the voice is Michael's and frowns.

"I am not a pet," he grumbles in annoyance and is even more irritated at the flash of white teeth when Adam grins.

"Perhaps not, but you are in need of protection, you're so little." Kris scowls and Cook sniggers behind him.

Adam cuddles him close and whispers, "I could not bear it if anything were to happen to you," he confesses and Kris feels slightly mollified. He's really going to have to talk to Adam about this whole 'me protector, you weak little rabbit' attitude he's got going on though when they get back to New Orleans. Kris has been taking care of himself for a long time.

"That's how I feel about you going off into the air to fight against your king's enemy," he mutters against Adam's throat. He's rewarded with a brief, but passionate kiss and then he's getting cold again because Adam's moved away and he's looking up at the sky.

"Stay safe," he instructs Kris firmly and jumps, the air shocked with lightning and smoke and then he's bulleting up into the sky. The scream that echoes across the night sounds something like a cross between an eagle and a stallion and Kris shivers in fear. His lover is heading straight for the sound.

"Come on," Cook tells him, tugs on his shoulder and Kris turns to see Cody already a little ahead, picking his way carefully between the reeds, the large alligator swimming silently in the dark water alongside him.

"Let's go and save your prince charming," Kris smiles cautiously and they head out after Cody across the swamp.

The Fairytale Prince needs Rescuing

The night sky suddenly explodes in screaming and lightning. Kris looks up and sees a large object plummeting down towards the ground. The object seems to split apart and Kris sees the yellow gold of Daniel's dragon and the blue light of Adam's catch the fire light of the moon.

"Holy fuck!" Cook exclaims, staring at the sight of two dragons locked in battle.

Cody clucks at them, "Best move faster, de others, dey be comin' out to check on dis noise."

Kris follows after Cody, Cook takes up the rear and they see the cabin door open and two men spill out onto the choppy grass in front of the place. They're both looking up and pointing, completely unaware of the ambush and then the huge alligator, Michael, is hurling himself up out of the swamp towards them, jaws snapping at them, and the men are both shrieking and running in opposite directions.

Kris would laugh if it wasn't for the adrenaline pumping through his blood. He's torn between looking up to see what's happening with the clash above them and the accomplishing of their mission.

Cook has no such dilemma. He's running towards the cabin, Cody at his heels and is up the stairs and inside before Kris is even halfway there.

"Archie! Archie! Are you there? It's me, Cook!" He's yelling and Cody is shouting at him to 'shut de fuck up you motier foux, you get us all killed' and then they're inside and Cook's banging on every door and putting his shoulder against anything that blocks his way.

"Stop yelling, you fucking moron!" Kris shouts at Cook and Cody grabs hold of Cook and smacks him against the back of his head. Cook is panting and sweating and crying and Kris wants to help his friend but he stays back while Cody shakes him.

"You must be quiet, shâ, or we not be hearing de boy." His voice is soft, intent and Cook stares at him, eyes wild and afraid.

"Cody…"

"Hush, Davy," Cody tells him and Cook nods and drops his head.

Kris hears a sound and spins and one of the men who had come out of the cabin is standing there, holding a gun in his hand and grinning. "Big mistake, fellas," he tells them and then drops to the floor like a stone.

The tall blond man standing behind him smiles at them, all teeth and glee. "Time to get the prince," he says and Kris nods. Cook and Cody are still staring at the stranger. He's built like a wall and sopping wet and Kris thinks briefly that he's really glad that Michael is on their side.

He spins around and tries to think of where they could be holding the prince. He spots a ladder going up to the ceiling and runs toward it, Michael close behind him. He's frustratingly not tall enough to reach it, but Michael is and he reaches up and tugs it down. Kris scrambles up and shoves at the trapdoor.

He pokes his head through the opening and tries to see through the gloom. The mound of clothes in the corner of the attic moves slightly and he's up and next to the prince before he can even think about it.

"Archie?" he asks, it's how he's come to think of the boy. Huge hazel eyes open slowly and Kris can see the pain burning deep inside.

"Do I know you?" he asks, voice rasping. Kris thinks that he'd probably do just about anything to have this boy never sound like that again.

Kris shakes his head, realises that pretty much everything else is shaking as he tries to help him sit up. "No," he says softly, "But I'm a friend of Cook's."

The fever bright eyes widen as he stares at Kris. "Cook?" he asks, struggling to look around and then Cook is there, grabbing him away from Kris and pulling him into his arms.

"Archie, Archie," Cook mumbles into the soft skin of the boy's throat. Slim arms go around Cook's neck and they're clinging to each other and Kris looks away, feeling like an intruder on this moment.

"My prince," Michael is half in, half out of the attic and Archie lifts his head, face wet with tears, "Are you well?" Kris can see that Archie is ill but can't tell what's wrong with him.

"I have not been able to change into my Drakkin form these past days," Archie admits huskily and Michael's eyes are shocked.

"Why not?" he asks and the prince shakes his head.

"I could not. My body is too weak." Cook's face is set and raging and he must be squeezing him because Archie gives a pained squeak and is immediately gathered close again.

"What can I do?" Cook asks and Archie's smile is beautiful and tragic.

"Nothing," he whispers, "I would not survive the change now anyway." Kris gets a horrible nausea in his gut and thinks that it would be criminal for this beautiful boy to not live through the night.

"The Sentinel," Michael exclaims suddenly and he vanishes through the trapdoor. Kris hears him running and shouting and he stands up and goes to the small window of the attic. He sees Michael standing outside, looking up at the sky.

The dull roar that rumbles through his head makes him feel dizzy and all he can hear is the rolling sound of the frantic Drakkin on the grass below calling for his kin. The alligators all come out of the swamp, some of them changing to human form, most remaining in reptile form and they join in the chant. Kris thinks that his brain is going to explode. It feels like the Drakkin call is embedded in his head, pounding against his skull trying to get out.

The scream from the air makes him look up and he sees the yellow dragon falling, falling, falling, tail over head over tail towards the ground. It hits the bayou water with a dull plop and a few of the alligators plunge back into the water and race towards the stricken dragon.

Kris sees the big black dragon landing softly on the grass in front of the cabin, lightning flashes and Adam is kneeling on the ground, coughing and groaning and Michael runs up to him.

"Sentinel!" He puts his arm on Adam's shoulder and Kris wants to rip him away because he's touching his…Adam.

"Adam!" Kris calls and Adam looks up. Kris waves, "We have him up here but he's not doing too good." Adam nods and gets to his feet.

"Bring him down here," he yells roughly and Kris nods. He turns to look at Cook and the prince.

"Cook, David," he says urgently, "Adam needs us to take Archie downstairs." Cook's eyes are dazed and watery and Kris has to hold swallow against the lump in his throat. He can see the terror in Cook's face and the fear that Archie is dying.

"What?" Cook asks and Kris puts a hand on his shoulder.

"We need to get him down to Adam." His voice is urgent and Cook seems to register it. He gathers Archie up and heads for the trapdoor. He lets Kris hold Archie for a brief moment while he negotiates the stairs and then motions for Kris to hand him down.

Kris doesn't bother arguing; he just passes the boy into Cook's waiting arms and then follows him down the stairs.

He and Cook walk out into the bayou night and it's suddenly silent apart from the sound of cicadas screaming at the moon. Adam and Michael are standing in the centre of a circle of huge alligators and Kris stumbles to a halt. David doesn't seem to feel the same hesitation and just strides to Adam and Michael, Archie cradled in his arms, without pause.

Adam motions to Cook to put Archie down, but the stubborn set of Cook's mouth tells Kris that he will not let the boy go.

"David, you must let me tend to the prince," Adam says quietly and is answered with a short, sharp shake of Cook's head.

"I am not leaving him alone," Cook growls, voice rough and determined. Adam looks into Cook's eyes and something there seems to help him make his decision.

"Very well," Adam says, the sigh audible in his voice, "but I am warning you, you must not let him go, no matter the pain or the fear." Kris is shaking, even though that heavy tone is not directed at him.

"I won't," Cook assures him and pulls Archie in tight.

"Cook," the low whisper stops them all and they look down at the prince, "You can't do this, you mustn't." Kris wants to go and join Cook, he feels as protective of the boy as if he's known him since birth.

Cook lowers his head, "I am not letting you go, Archie, never again." Kris has to bite back the protest, because he wants them all to be safe.

"I won't live through this night," Archie says rawly and Kris wants to shout a denial. "You must let me go."

Cook's face sets in the stubborn way that Kris knows all too well. "Don't you fucking try to tell me what to do, David James Archuleta." The choked giggle tells Kris that this is a familiar argument.

"We need to act now," Adam says suddenly, big hand on Cook's shoulder. "You must hold on, and not let go, no matter what."

Kris wants to ask Adam to explain what he means but suddenly about ten of the alligators are changing, transforming into human form and he just stares as they make a circle around Adam, Archie and Cook.

The low, rhythmic hum coming from the group makes a shudder run through Kris' body. It feels like the sound is rippling right through him and it's like music and it talks to his soul. He steps closer to the circle, looks through the arms and hands shielding Adam from his sight.

He almost slams right through them when he sees the agony in Adam's face as he rests his hands on Archie's chest. The boy is bowed up and mouth open in a scream, but silent and agonized and Cook's face is tucked into his neck. Michael's big hands are holding onto Adam's shoulders as Adam leans back, eyes closed and blood streaming out of his nose.

Kris looks over at Cody who is watching the scene with impassive fascination. "What should I do?" he asks and Cody shrugs.

"Dis be outta my depth, shâ, you best be makin' your own choice here." His smile is huge and Kris has the sneaking suspicion that this is far too much fun for the swamp man.

"Thanks," Kris tells him with a grimace and he ducks under the big arms of the two Drakkin men closest to him and he's in the centre of the circle and looking into Michael's shocked eyes.

"You should not be able to break the chain," Michael gasps and then Adam opens his eyes and Kris falls into ice blue eternity. He feels as though his strength is being sucked out of him and he falls to his knees on the grass, hand outstretched towards Adam.

Adam reaches out and their hands connect, grab and hold on. Kris feels the world fall away.

His memories flicker through his mind like the scratchy film of an old movie. Adam's eyes, Cook's face, Archie's mouth, all run into each other in a reel of emotion and pain and he is grounded only by the grasp of Adam's hand in his.

Happily Ever After?

When he opens his eyes again, he looks over at Adam and sees that he's drenched with sweat and blood.

"Adam?" he says softly and Adam falls back into him and it's all Kris can do to keep hold of him as they go down. He makes sure that he's underneath Adam, though, protecting his head against his chest. The wind is knocked out of him for a moment and he eventually starts breathing again, Adam a heavy weight on top of him. He pushes against Adam, who rolls off him with a grunt and Kris still keeps a careful hold on his skull as he leans over him. The bright blue eyes are closed and his skin is ice white and clammy.

"Adam," he says again, urgently, breath puffing against Adam's face. There is no response and Kris looks around for someone to help him.

He sees that the rest of the Drakkin are also lying unconscious on the grass and Cody is walking between them, touching them, whispering and encouraging.

He turns his head to look over at Cook and Archie. He panics when he can't see the boy. Cook is huddled over, breathing heavily and then he groans and falls back and Kris sees a flash of gold and red and rainbow moving away from him. Kris stares in amazement as the bird spreads its wings.

The phoenix is huge, bigger than a bald eagle and its wingspan looks to be about the length of a grown man. He finds that he can't stare too long at the iridescent wings before his eyes start to burn and water. It's like looking into the sun.

The phoenix turns its head and looks directly at him and Kris feels himself falling into hazel oceans when the soft, sweet voice in his head says, Take care of him.

It's not a question, but Kris nods anyway and then gapes as the phoenix launches itself into the air with a scream. He hears the triumphant roars of the swamp Drakkin and looks around to see that they have all transformed again. The huge reptiles make for the water, leaving Kris with Cook, Cody and Adam, who is the only one who hasn't changed back into his Drakkin form.

Kris motions to Cody, who walks over to Cook and helps him to his feet. "Cook," he croaks and he lifts his head. "You okay?"

David is swaying and groggy but the first thing he asks is, "Archie?"

Cody pats his shoulder and says, "De prince boy be tres bien, shâ. He be in de air at dis time." Cook looks up and the flash of color in the sky draws a weak smile.

"He's okay," he whispers shakily, "that's all that matters." He lets Cody help him over to the stairs in front of the cabin and lower him to sit there.

Kris turns back to Adam, lifts his head and rests it on his thighs. He stares out at the bayou and sees the faint blush of morning touching the horizon.

"We best be gettin' back to Lake Cataouatche, Kris. Dere is nothin' we can do for de dragon man here." Cody's drawl pulls Kris' attention back to him and he nods.

"Adam," he strokes the damp hair away from Adam's forehead and pats his check lightly, "Babe, we need to get out of here." Adam makes a soft, pained noise and Kris tries to see where he's been hurt, but the light is still not bright enough.

"Kris, here, let me help." David and Cody are there and between the three of them they get Adam to his feet and walk-stagger to the small rubber duck pulled up onto the bank. They lower him in and push the boat into the water.

The boat ride back is silent and they stop briefly to collect Cody's pirogue. The sun is bright in the sky by the time they reach Cody's ramshackle cabin. Adam is still out, colour now running high on his cheeks and Kris just wants to get him into a bed and sleep for about a hundred years.

Cook and Cody help him manoeuvre Adam into the back seat of the SUV and then they look at each other.

Cook rubs the back of his neck, he's still pale. "Merci, Cody, mille merci."

Cody pulls him into a rough hug and mutters something in Cajun that Kris can't hear. Cook nods and rubs his face against his uncle's shirt. "We'd better go." He looks at Kris and asks, "You want me to drive?"

Kris nods and then holds his hand out to Cody. "Thank you, for everything."

Cody grins and indicates the car with his head, "You introduced me to a dragon man, shâ. I be thankin' you!" Kris laughs and lets Cody hug him briefly as well. "You be comin' back whenever you want, y'hear? I won't bring out de guns to chase you away." Kris laughs again and clambers up into the back, propping Adam's head on his thighs once more.

"Ready?" Cook turns to look at them and Kris nods, resting a protective hand against Adam's heart.

"So ready," he sighs and leans his head back. Cook starts the car and heads back to New Orleans.

It's late afternoon by the time Cook pulls up in front of the bar. Brad comes out and his eyes get bright at the sight of Adam. "Hello there, who is this hunk of gorgeous man flesh?"

Kris scowls and wants to plant his fist in Brad's pretty face. "Mine," is what he says though and Brad's face drops.

"You always get the hottest boys," he whines but helps Kris muscle Adam out of the car. Kris watches Brad's hands carefully; he's the type who'll grope if he gets the chance.

"Who is he?" Cass asks when they stumble inside.

Cook and Kris exchange glances and Kris mutters, "He's my boyfriend. His name is Adam and he was knocked out so I just need to get him into bed so that I can call a doctor or something." He's going for the simplest explanation.

Brad tells Cass, "Call Anoop, he's a fourth year med student and he won't ask stupid questions." Cassidy nods and is dialing before they reach the stairs.

Adam is dead weight as the three of them struggle to get him upstairs. They're all huffing and out of breath when they finally wrangle him onto Kris' bed.

"Thanks." Kris says to Brad and looks pointedly at the door. He narrows his eyes at the stubborn set of Brad's jaw and only relaxes once Brad flounces out of the apartment, banging the door on his way.

"You okay?" he looks over at Cook who collapses on the sofa.

"Yeah," Cook grunts and opens his eyes, "Worried about Archie though."

Kris shrugs and says, "I think he'll be okay. Maybe that was some kind of energy transference thing that they did. The others all looked wiped when it was over and Archie was …" he trails off and he can feel his face drawing open in wonder, "he's beautiful."

Cook smiles and nods, "Yeah, he's pretty spectacular, isn't he?" He sounds proud and fond and stupidly in love and Kris grins back at him. "What's wrong with Adam though?"

Kris looks back down at Adam, his skin isn't so pale anymore and the damp stickiness has dried. "Don't know. He's just tired, I hope."

They sit there for a while, thinking about everything they've seen and Kris eventually dozes off, sliding sideways on the bed to curl up next to Adam.

He's woken by the sound of voices and the tall man standing next to his bed smiles at him, brown eyes warm. "I'm Anoop Desai," he says, holding out his hand, "Want to tell me about what happened?"

Kris hesitates, not sure how much he should say, when he hears Adam say rawly, "Got a bit of a hit on my head, they were worried about concussion."

Kris' head turns so quickly he feels like it almost spins right off. "Adam!"

Those ridiculous eyes are open, dull with pain, but open and Adam is smiling at him. "Hey baby," he reaches out and Kris grabs his hand, clutching it hard.

"I thought…" Kris can't express his fears but Adam it seems, can read him like a book.

"I'm okay," he tells him, "Just tired." Anoop checks Adam's pupils and then the bump on the back of his head.

He steps back and looks at him. "You look okay and I don't think you've got a concussion, your pupils are responding." He looks over at Kris and suggests, "I would still keep an eye on him though, maybe wake him up every couple of hours, just to make sure."

Cook walks him out, thanking him, and then comes back into the room. "I'm going to head home," he tells Kris, "Maybe Archie's gone there."

Kris nods, careful not to jostle Adam, who has gone back to sleep against his shoulder. "Yeah, okay. Let me know that he's safe, okay?"

Cook nods back and looks down at Adam, brow furrowed. "He put his life in danger for Archie." He sounds thoughtful and a little surprised. "He's one of the good guys I guess."

Kris runs his free hand over Adam's face gently and says, "Yeah, I really think he is." Cook leaves with a wave and Kris cuddles in close to Adam. Adam wraps his long arms around him, still fast asleep and Kris just lets himself slide into oblivion.

He's woken by a hot mouth and busy hands and he thinks that his dick might be on fire but when he opens his eyes and looks down, he sees Adam, eyes dancing, sucking him in and smiling around him.

"Fuck me!" he gasps and Adam lets him go with an audible pop.

"If you insist," he grins, teeth white and sharp and then Kris is lifted up and spread and he is shouting as Adam lowers him onto his already lubed cock.

"You shit!" he yells, pounding on Adam's shoulder and is rewarded with a bite against his collar bone. Kris feels stretched and aching and he's burning up as Adam moves and moves and moves. He's coming before he can stop himself, hot and powerful and all over Adam's stomach as Adam thrusts up once more, groaning into his ear.

Kris feels Adam lower him carefully back onto the bed, he pulls out and then pads to the bathroom. Kris lies sprawled and wrecked and tries to think of when the fuck his life lost all control. His answer comes in the form of the tall man with the warm wash cloth coming out of the bathroom and wiping him clean carefully.

"I am sorry for that," Adam says quietly and Kris sees the slight flush on his cheeks.

He hates that Adam is feeling uncomfortable and scrambles up to hug him. "Don't," he mumbles into Adam's warm neck, "You don't have to be sorry about anything. That was fucking amazing." He feels Adam's arms go around him and pull him in tight.

"Cook called," Adam says and Kris looks at him sharply, "The prince is with him. He is well." His mouth is grim. "We are going to have to discuss what to do next. Prince David says that Daniel mentioned the King had set everything up. He was not supposed to live. We are just lucky that Daniel became greedy and wanted more out of the arrangement."

Kris says, "At least Archie is safe."

Adam nods and sighs, "But not for long. This is going to cause much tension with my people. David and I will have to go to the King and confront him. This jealousy has nearly resulted in the death of our chosen."

Kris can feel the rage radiating from Adam and he starts petting him, stroking him as though he is some huge cat and Adam sighs again and leans into him, arching and purring into his touch, the tattoos rolling and undulating under his hands.

"What you did…" Adam begins and then pulls away, arranges them both on the bed, under a sheet. He doesn't let go of Kris though. "What you did, coming into the circle like that last night," he looks confused, "You shouldn't have been able to do that."

Kris tucks his head into the curve of Adam's neck and asks, "So why could I then?"

Adam puts a hand under Kris' chin. "You were able to come into the circle because your mate was in danger." His voice is low, grave and Kris realizes that he's being told something important.

"You?" he asks, high and nervous and Adam chuckles, the sound reverberating in his chest.

"Me," he confirms and leans down to kiss Kris softly. The kiss turns wild about a second later and Kris tries to remember his name.

He puts a hand on Adam's face. "So what now?" Somehow, he's ended up as the mate of a dragon. He's not sure what it says about him that he's not running screaming for the hills.

Adam smiles and asks, "Do we need to decide everything right now?" He rolls his shoulders. "The next few days, weeks perhaps, are going to be insane. I just need to know that at the end of it all, I can come back to you."

Kris watches him, sees the uncertainty and wants to wipe it away. "I'm not going anywhere," he drawls, deliberately elongating the vowels until the words are a caress. "But, if you're planning on staying here, I'm going to have to start charging you rent."

Adam grins at him, the shadows in his eyes chased away by pure joy. "But I don't have any money," he whines a little and the dragon mark wriggles happily against Kris, sending shivers through him.

Kris grins back, he's not sure what tomorrow will bring, but he knows that he'll be sharing it with Adam, and that's enough for now. "We'll work something out," he tells Adam and then leans down to kiss him.