They had their orders, words none of them wanted to believe, "kill them all."
They also had their hearts, and words they would live by, "die with them."
Tao glares and he hates, he hates with a force that takes over his whole body, it dictates his moves and it burns in his gut, and that hate screams at him, howls, revenge, revenge, revenge, and he adjusts his grip on his swords and his stance is ready, he's ready, for anything, whatever Wufan will throw at him.
Wufan snarls, it might have been a smile, a long time ago, but that has been lost in the blood that dyes the earth beneath them, in the echo of voices, a thousand miles away, telling of love instead of this scalding betrayal, and suddenly Tao feels the weight of the necklace around his neck, the one that was woven from gold and Wufan's hair, to symbolise unity between a dragon and its rider, he aches somewhere deep in him, an ache that he refuses to acknowledge.
”Come then, little human,” the words cut into his skin, they peel it away and reveal his bones, where Wufan is engraved, and Tao snarls back, his body shaking with unreleased rage, waiting to be set loose, like a tiger prowling in a cage, let me out let me out let me out, it chants in his head and Wufan's crouched, anticipating, and he has blood on his sharp teeth.
”Be careful what you wish for,” Tao says it like the promise it is, and Wufan's eyes are alight, tail swaying from side to side, and in a flash of metal and the sound of misplaced stones under his feet, Tao charges forward, his mind blank.
He can still hear the spells cast around them, he can hear the roars and yells of anger and pain and dark, dark promises, the clash of steel and he can smell the burnt flesh and the odor of blood, the vague smell of ozone that comes with the magic and the wings of the dragons, but the only thing he can see is Wufan.
His glorious Wufan, standing tall despite his wounds, despite the blood, despite the desperation, his copper and gold scales shining brighter than the sun, his mane, smooth as silk, moving with the wind, and his eyes, the golden eyes that see straight through Tao, just like Tao sees straight through them, they take his heart and keep it forever, but Tao doesn't need it anyway, not anymore.
For one fleeting moment, when the world stops and there's no one but them, they're one, Tao and his dragon, and the smile on his face is mirrored by Wufan, and he thinks that the hate in him isn't hate, not really, it never has been, it never could be, it's a love so warm that it burns everything else in its way, a forest fire spreading from one tree to the next, burning the whole thing down, and Tao wants to burn with it, too.