"Did you call your team?" Keon asked Ice, who sat next to him on the floor.
"Uh-huh. They're coming. You look like shit, baby." Those icy blue eyes moved over him, Ice obviously worried.
"I'm a little drained." He patted Ice's leg, listening to Damien rumble. His dragon was furious -- both because of the small army of soldiers waiting in the town at the base of the mountains for Sergei to return, which you know, tough to do after being reduced to a grease spot, and because someone had been in the keep, had tried to hurt the babies.
No one hurt his clutch. No one.
Ice tugged him up and stood, lifting him. "Come on, baby. Jeez, I don't even know where you sleep, really."
"No? What kind of boyfriend are you?" He had to tease. They were more like... dragon-bonded fuckbuddies. Right?
"Uh, well, up 'til now I've always been a sucky one. We'll see how it works with you." Ice's pale eyebrows gyrated. He pointed to the huge doorway that marked his rooms. The bed was huge and soft, the fireplace always blazing.
"Wow. Way nicer than Chi's little sleeping area." Ice put him down on the bed.
"I live here. You were an uninvited guest. Now we'll make sure you're comfortable, too."
"Gonna keep me?" Ice stripped off, reminding Keon that he'd faced the bad guy naked. That had to be macho on his part, right?
"Good deal." Ice grimaced. "My team might be pissed. We just lost one team member a few weeks ago. Now me, as well?"
"How many are coming and are they going to shoot me? I don't like that." It had happened a few times in his tenure as dragon guardian and it wasn't fun.
"No shooting allowed. There should be five. No, four. Spider is the one who left. Jacques, who we call One-Eyed Jack. He's a Cajun. Gig is the tech guy. Shannon is the big Irishman, and there's our surveillance guy, Chino."
"Is Ice your real name?" Had he slept with a man whose name he didn't know? No. No, they hadn't slept at all. They'd fucked.
"No." Ice shrugged. "We all have call signs. Mine is as much my name now as any, I guess."
That explained why little Chi had used that when he and Ice had bonded then. Whatever name Ice used for himself was the name baby dragon Chi would understand.
"My name is really just Keon, just like my father and my grandfather."
"No shit? I'm not named after anyone. I was three months old when someone dropped me off at a local Catholic church." Ice sounded so matter-of-fact.
"I was taken to learn how to take care of the babies at five, but life was different then." The middle of the nineteenth century had seen many children pressed into labor and he'd been lucky, blessed.
"I guess so. How have you lived so long, man? Not to be nosy, but, well, I am nosy."
"It's the dragons. They can't live without their bonded, so we live as long as they do. You'll live until Chi dies and he has hundreds of years left to him."
"Wow." Ice seemed to mull that over, chewing his lower lip. "What about Damien?"
"He's in his prime. We have at least six hundred good years before we start to get tired." And then they'd settle in, spend a near eternity quiet and lazy. Maybe he'd get fat.
"Holy shit." Ice blinked, vibrating a little, his skin going two shades paler. "That's... Seriously?"
"As far as I know, yes. I mean, accidents happen, but when the couple I replaced went to ground, they'd been active for nearly a millennium." Was that bad?
Ice grunted like he'd been hit. Huh. Maybe it was a lot to take in.
The boys are dragon guardians and elementals, and they have a ball protecting their charges.