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Scales and Soldiers

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The Beginning

Pepper looked at the gathered crowd with disbelief. They chanted loudly, “Witch! Burn the witch!”

She almost rolled her eyes at the ridiculous notion. Just because she’d turned down a couple of offers of marriage they were going to burn her at the stake with false accusations. If she was really a witch she would’ve done much worse than slap the men who’d assumed that she was fair game as a single woman.

Her fingers twitched restlessly and her wrists were chafed by the rough rope they’d used to bind her hands. Her stomach sank rapidly as they approached the pyre with burning torches. Shaking with fear and anger she glared at every single person waiting for her to scream and beg for her life.

Before they dropped the torches onto the tower of wood there was a bone-chilling roar. She was forgotten as the villagers scattered and a shadow swept down rapidly from the mountain. Pepper supposed that she should’ve been concerned about the huge beast but, she was more worried about a forgotten torch which had rolled close enough to catch the wood at the bottom of the pile she was standing on. She fought against her bonds and her feet slipped as she tried to move away from the growing flames.

Her heart pounded in fear when she lifted her gaze and she found herself face-to-face with the gold reptilian eyes of one of the most feared beasts on earth. Her temper snapped, “I suppose that you want to kill me as well. Well, you’re too late.”

She was sure that she was imagining it, but the beast with red, rippling scales and gold eyes looked amused. The predator seemed to come to a decision as it reached out and plucked her carefully from the flames and took her far away from her murderers.

 

 

1942

“Damn it Tony! This is a stupid idea.”

“Are you jealous?”

Pepper hit him in the head, “Erskine’s formula will work.”

“It didn’t last time. You saw the results. Without me it won’t stabilise and that kid won’t stand a chance.”

Pepper sighed, “Tell me what you’re really up to.”

“I’m not up to anything… alright, fine, this kid has enough spunk to stop this war singlehandedly if we give him the right tools.”

“And…”

“And I might’ve had a head’s up that I would meet him one day.”

“From who?”

“It was before I met you.”

“And you didn’t think that it was important to mention it?! Fine. Are you at least going to tell the kid about what it will mean for him?”

“Right, because he’ll totally believe me when I tell him that the tears of a dragon - that’s me by the way. I’m a dragon. My real name is actually rather complicated. I can’t use it for every lifetime anyway because I will live forever unless someone kills me - will make him immortal and there may be some other side effects.”

“You have to tell Steve. You do remember what happened when you ‘helped’ Mr Rhodes without asking?”

“Rhodey loves me and he got over it eventually. Pepper… this is the right thing to do.”

“If this turns out badly I’m leaving and I won’t come back.”

“Yeah, you will.”

 

 

1943

“Pepper!”

Pepper jumped out of bed and raced down the hallway. Tony was standing in his suite with the balcony window opened wide. He looked panicked and she understood why when he said, “He’s in the ocean somewhere.”

Pepper grabbed the report from Tony’ hands and didn’t bother to ask where he’d stolen it from. She scanned the document quickly, “I’m too old for this. Alright, is there a chance that Steve is still alive? These temperatures are incredibly low.”

Tony scowled, “Of course he’s still alive. Fuck. I hope he’s not conscious.”

“Conscious!” Pepper slipped into her native language in her distress and she spent a long time swearing at Tony. When she was done she sighed, straightened her nightie and nodded at the open window, “Find him. I’ll cover for you but we’re not leaving him down there.”

Tony kissed her cheek and jumped out of the window without another word. Pepper kept the report in her hands, closed the window, and walked back slowly to her room. On the way she paused outside of a closed door and worried. Steve was lost in the ocean, Tony would be unreasonable until he was found and Bucky… Bucky was in a coma on the other side of the door she was standing in front of and no one was sure if he would wake up again.

Tony was an old creature of magic (although he would argue until his dying breath that magic was an insufficient term) but even he had limits. Pepper felt stretched thin and she was tired after following Tony around for over six hundred years. James Rhodes hadn’t spent more than a week with them for over a century as he held a grudge against Tony and Pepper missed him. She needed someone… anyone… to understand how she was feeling.

 

2012

“Pepper!”

Pepper sighed and closed one of the many files on top of her desk, “Tony.”

Tony was beaming and Pepper hadn’t seen him so genuinely happy for decades. She was suddenly a lot more interested in why he’d barged into her office. He pulled her up from her chair and dipped her spontaneously. She giggled at the ridiculous move, “Put me down, beast. Why are you so happy?”

He kissed both of her cheeks, “They found him. They found Steve.”

Pepper’s jaw dropped, “Tony… it’s been seventy years.”

A shadow crossed Tony’s face. He’d always considered it a personal failing that he’d not found Steve but the ocean was a big place to search. Tony nodded, “S.H.I.E.L.D. got to him before I could. I called Rhodey but he’s no help. I need to see him.”

Pepper pulled him back before he could run out of the room, “Tony… you’ve kept your secret for all of these years. If you go now you’ll blow it before you get anywhere near him.”

Tony answered, distressed, “I can’t leave him there!”

Pepper nodded and smiled soothingly, “I know. We can fix this. I need you to keep a low profile.”

Tony smirked, “My name is going to be lit up on a brand new building in the middle of New York in five days and you want me to keep a low profile?”

She patted him on the cheek patronisingly, “Try your best.”

Tony laughed, “Are you coming to New York with me?”

“Yes, I have a feeling that you’re going to need me. Have you heard from Bucky recently?”

Tony shook his head, “We should find him.”

“Yes. It’ll be alright Tony.”

 

Five days later

Steve looked furious, “Tony!”

Tony grinned, “Steve. I missed you.”

Steve counted back silently from ten and took a deep breath, “What did you do to me?”

Pepper sighed as she entered the room, “I told you that you should’ve explained everything.”

Steve jumped in surprise, “Pepper? Are you sure that I’m in the future?”

Bucky walked into the room as well, “Yeah, punk, you’re in the future.”

Steve sat down on the sofa and dropped his head into his hands, “I’m so confused.”

Tony looked at Pepper for guidance. As usual Pepper would have to be the one who explained Tony’s actions. Pepper sighed and moved across the room to sit next to Steve. She placed her hand gently on his shoulder, “Steve, I know that this is all rather shocking. Erskine’s formula worked but it wasn’t stable without a certain component from Tony. Tony’s… he’s literally a dragon. He rescued me from being burned at the stake in the 15th century and he gave me a small part of his soul. Just enough for me to become immortal and impervious to fire. I had a bit of a phobia about it. Tony saved Rhodey’s life in the sixteenth century in a similar way but that’s not a nice story. Then Tony met Erskine and you. Tony wanted to give you every chance so he gave a piece of his soul to you as well. He found Bucky just before you disappeared so we didn’t have time to find you and Tony gave up a fourth piece of his soul to save Bucky’s life.”

Steve looked disbelieving, “I don’t believe you.”

Tony stood up and Pepper snapped, “Don’t you dare! The last time you changed indoors you destroyed your house.”

Tony rolled his eyes, “I’ll just do it partially.”

Pepper snorted, “That never ends well.”

Tony grinned, “Have some faith.”

Tony’s skin shimmered red and gold while his eyes narrowed into gold slits. He stopped after a moment and Bucky’s hand on his elbow stopped him from falling to his knees. Steve’s eyes were wide but he wasn’t panicking, “That’s… incredible.”

Tony preened and Pepper rolled her eyes, “Everyone knows that Tony is… different… now but nobody knows about us or what he can really do. He’s trying to keep us as safe as he can. As far as the world is concerned Erskine’s formula worked on you without any modifications and Bucky is a ghost.”

Steve stood up and Pepper could see his analytical mind whirling, “S.H.I.E.L.D. wants our help?”

Pepper sighed, “The world’s grown smaller just in time for us to find out that there are more worlds out there.”

Tony lounged on the sofa with casual grace, “I miss my mountains.”

Pepper chuckled, “You hated those mountains.”

“No. They were nice and quiet.”

“They were cold and damp.”

Steve drew their attention, “Alright… here’s the plan.”

 

 

2015

Steve growled and Tony stretched like a cat, “Are you sure about this Captain?”

Steve finished sucking a large, dark purple bruise on Tony’s collarbone and lifted his head, “Don’t you think that we’ve waited long enough for this.”

Steve rolled his hips so that their wet cocks slid against each other. Tony hummed happily, “Do you really want to be mated to me for eternity?”

Steve sat up, “Tony, are you having second thoughts about us?”

Tony followed Steve and kissed him deeply, “Dragon’s mate for life. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if you wanted to cut and run.”

Steve rolled his eyes, “Don’t be an idiot.”

Tony flipped Steve over so that he was on top, “A gentleman always gives a lady a chance to say no.”

Steve punched Tony in the stomach and growled, “Either fuck me or kick me out of bed Tony because I’m not going anywhere voluntarily.”

Tony’s chest rumbled with a satisfied growl and Steve arched into the heat of Tony’s body. Tony slipped his fingers back into Steve’s body to check that he was still stretched enough and he pushed his cock back into Steve. Steve hadn’t left Tony’s bed in three days but they were at the last coupling before Steve and Tony would be tied together for eternity. He had been the last for so long that Tony had no one to ask about mating rituals but he remembered enough to make it official. Nobody would ever call him a traditionalist but privately he wished that he could remember the flowery words his mother had once told him about.

Steve had his legs wrapped around Tony’s hips and he nipped at whichever part of Tony’s skin was the closest. It was hard and fast but after three days they’d had plenty of foreplay and they were ready for the main event. Tony’s eyes glittered gold as he stared into Steve’s blue eyes and he growled, “Mine. Yours.”

Steve clutched Tony’s shoulders and bared his teeth as he repeated the sentiment, “Mine. Yours.”

Tony growled wordlessly when they both came and he felt Steve’s pleasure on top of his own. It took a while before either of them could move and even longer before they could speak. Eventually Tony rolled off the bed and crawled to the bathroom. He walked back into the bedroom after cleaning himself up with a towel and he threw a clean one at Steve.

It landed on Steve’s chest and Steve grunted but he made no attempt to clean himself up. Tony rolled his eyes and walked across the room to wipe the towel across Steve’s chest. Steve chuckled tiredly, “Thanks.”

Tony threw the towel in the direction of the bathroom and he flopped back onto the bed next to Steve, “Don’t get used to it.”

Steve grinned at the ceiling, “So, dragon’s mate for life?”

Tony closed his eyes, “You’re not getting rid of me now?”

Steve rolled over and drew Tony in for a long, lazy kiss, “I don’t see why I’d want to.”