"Josiah, where did you get this?" Vin asked from the box he was sorting through.
I turned to find a stream of yellow silk pooled in my lover's lap. Blinking, I had a series of flashbacks to the other side of the world. For a moment I smelled the exotic spices of a Tibetan marketplace; locked eyes with an old man in a ragged tent; heard a deep voice speak my true name; held a newborn infant with the bloody caul still attached; felt my soul soar high above the mountains.
I blinked and found a worried Vin practically in my lap, his hands cupping my face while he repeated my name over and over.
"I'm all right, Vin." Leaning forward, I kissed him softly and grounded myself with his taste. When we parted to breathe, I smiled tenderly into curious eyes. "I had a flash to another time."
"A good time or a bad one," he asked me, handing me the yellow silk which had started the whole thing.
I smoothed out the cloth so the embroidery showed. A myriad of greens, blues and golds tangled in bright and dark to form a pattern confusing to the eye. It was better seen from a few feet away so I got to my feet and crossed to the fireplace. Using the two crystal candle sticks, I anchored one end to the mantle and let the rest of the banner fall to almost touch the flagstone hearth.
Just under five feet long, I'd forgotten how big it was. Silk folds up into an incredibly small bundle when the need arises. Backing up, I stopped when the emblem came into focus. Once seen, you could never forget the image.
"Wow, he's beautiful." Vin's arms slid around me and I pulled him in tight to my side.
"In Tibet, each person has," I paused searching for the right word. "I guess the nearest equivalent would be a totem animal. But their mythology allows for more than just the animals you can see and touch."
"And yours is a dragon," he said it with an assurance that could still surprise me. "I knew that already, 'Siah. You always protected the team when we were in danger."
I chuckled sadly and dropped another kiss on his head. "The oddest thing is that I walked away from the responsibility and denied my dragon for too long a time. It hurt to care for others and to protect someone means you must care passionately about them."
He nodded and rubbed his cheek against my linen covered nipple. "But you can't deny your true nature forever. He's always inside of you, trying to get out."
Resting my cheek upon his soft hair, I sighed. A small draft of air rippled the silk banner and the dragon seemed to breathe. "He clawed his way out when I was forced to take on a border patrol intent on decimating a village where I was resting before a trip into the mountains."
Screaming and gunfire sometimes echoed in bloodstained dreams. The patrol had the superior firepower but my soul-deep need to save the children of the village had triumphed over guns and ammo. No one should ever have to bury their daughters or sons. I grieved so much promise lost to greed and arrogance.
"Lake Dragon is my true name, the shaman said." I could still hear the syllables spilling like liquid fire from his mouth. "On my vision quest, I soared above the mountains and valleys of Tibet. I flew over herds of wild yak, danced with the black-necked cranes, bathed in the icy waters of Lake Cuo'e then flew to rest at the top of the world on Mount Qomolangma - the Queen of Mountains."
Vin shivered and I held him closer, using my hands to warm his back. "I can almost see him, Josiah."
"The daughter of the village headman finished the banner three months after I'd left for so-called civilization. How it ever reached me, I have no idea. I was still roaming the world, fighting where ever I was needed." My eyes traced the long sinuous lines of the dragon, the golden claws unsheathed and glinting in the late afternoon sunlight.
"It's an Imperial dragon, 'Siah." Vin had noticed the number of claws.
I blushed and cleared my throat. "The shaman said I was the reincarnation of the first Dragon King and that's why he's got five claws and blue fish scales among the green scales of the forests."
Mischievous blue eyes met mine. "A king, huh? I noticed the great big regal part you got born with." He moved his hip over my groin and I came to life the way I always did when he so much as touched me. "Guess I wasn't just funnin' when I called him the Emperor."
Laughing, I swept him up in my arms and kissed him soundly. Out of the corner of my eye, the banner moved and I swear the image breathed out a blessing for us. I'd have to see about getting a rod to hang it up. It was one reminder of my past I wouldn't mind having out for the world to see. Freeing my dragon had led me through the back alleys of the world and eventually to Denver and the man who held my heart. I would be forever grateful I survived the journey to the team that came to be my family.
The dragon's clan was growing nicely, I thought to myself while stripping Vin's clothes from his beautiful body. My students at the university were curious souls who asked hard questions and kept me on my toes. I found myself naked, too and followed my lover down to our warm sheets.
Dragon's mate, I started licking a path down his tempting body. I was going to be insatiable today. After all, I had a mythology to live up to now. Listening to Vin's heartfelt groan, I smiled around my mouthful and prepared to breathe a little fire for his pleasure. And for mine.
The end of this part