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These Wings Will Carry Me

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Ever since she was little, Darcy’s favorite story was of the dragons and their tamers. Her parents were very animated as they told her the tales, adding in that her great-great grandparents were owners of great dragons, small and mighty ones. She remembered laughing as her father would sneak up on her mother, pretending to be the dragon, and growl playfully as he kissed her cheek. She loved every minute of it.

“Remember Darcy,” Erica Lewis warned her. “It’s very rare for the dragon to bond with a second person. But if they do, it’s usually that person’s mate.”

“Mate?” The nine year old repeated. “What do you mean?”

“Your husband or wife,” Ben Lewis explained. “It most likely won’t happen, your dragon would be incredibly loyal to you and you only but –“ he shrugs. “The legend says it’s possible.”

The legend. That was all that it was to Darcy. A legend.

She loved those stories. She treasured them and carried them with her as she grew up. As she attended Culver, as she met the brilliant Dr. Jane Foster. Jane knew of the legend too, pushing them off as just that.

And then a literal alien fell from the sky and it wasn’t much of a legend anymore.

She timidly asked Thor about it on one of the rare nights that they spent alone while Jane finally caught some Z’s.

“I’m sorry to say, we don’t have dragons on Asgard. But we have seen them.” A great smile crosses Thor’s face and Darcy feels a tingle right down to her toes. “They’re here. They still exist.”

She thought about her mother. “They do?”

“They’re in waiting for the true caretaker of them to come back. Apparently when the last tamer died, they went into hiding.”

“Yeah, uh, my parents told me exactly that.”

“Did your parents like the stories?” Thor asked.

Darcy nodded. “They always seemed to...believe them. I always thought that they were just doing that for my benefit.”

Thor pats her shoulder, his strength half pushing her to the ground. “Aye, lightening sister. But maybe, maybe that’s not exactly the whole story.”

She calls her mother after Thor retires to bed.

“Please, don’t lie to me or say it’s a story. Please.”

Erica sighs deep in the back of her throat. “We suspected this when you were little. You always got along with reptiles more than girls and boys your age and we just weren’t sure but we just thought –“

Mom!”

Her mother makes a noise and then launches into the story. If Darcy wasn’t so literal, she would have thought her mother had smoked a big old doobie or something but she knew, she knew that wasn’t the case.

Her ancestors tamed the dragons of the old world. Mostly the women of the line, it seemed but a few men here and there, showed up with the gift too. The women were kinder, the women cared for the dragons and kept them close, protected them. There was one story about a husband and wife that both bonded with a dragon, a big beautiful creature called Malex. Malex was known to have laid several eggs and hidden them all over the place when the great threat came for the dragons. And then they disappeared, completely from the world.

But apparently not, according to Thor.

They’re in hiding,” Erica parrots Thor’s words. “They’re waiting. Waiting for you.”

When Darcy got off the phone with her mother she had a panic attack.

And then got rip-roaring drunk.

-;

When he was a young boy, his mother told him the stories of the dragons.

“You are like the dragons, Steven.”

He had just gotten over one of the longest asthma attacks he had had in his short life. In all logic, he should be dead at this moment. But he’s not.

He’s alive.

“I don’t feel like it, Ma.”

His mother smiled, gently rubbing his back as he heaved another deep cough, spitting up in the basin by the bed. “Oh but you are. You’re like the great dragon, Malex.”

“Malex, Ma?”

Sarah nodded. “When all the dragons had to go into hiding, she laid her eggs all over so soon, her kind would rise again. Her people, her bonds were with a man and wife and they are the only known couple to bond with a dragon. It was usually the women that would create those bonds but it happened.”

“It did, huh?”

Sharon nodded. “You have the heart of a dragon, my boy. And the soul of a warrior. You’ll live through this.”

Steve later suspected it was because she wanted to distract him from the fact that each rattling breath could be his last. For that, Steve was appreciative. He was appreciative of everything the woman did for him.

He told those stories to Bucky and the rest of the Commandoes on the front lines as they listened to bombs exploding in the distance. They knew death knocking on their door and the stories of flying on the backs of dragons and being free were comforting to say the least.

But it wasn’t enough.

Watching Bucky fall from the train, Steve wished a dragon was there to catch him. To bring him back up and set him in the sky like a star.

He wished for it again when the plane plummeted towards the ice. Peggy’s begging him for the coordinates, which he honestly cannot figure out right at that moment. He imagines as the ice gets closer, the great dragon just coming out of nowhere and plucking him up.

He could be free.

His last thoughts are of the different bits of chocolate brown in Peggy’s eyes as sleep takes him in.

-;

After her mother’s death, Darcy inherits the house at Woodcliff Lake. Her parents owned fourteen acres there, and when she went over the documents, she learned her mother had recently bought another ten.

The wooded area outside her home stretched as far as the eye could see. At least, what her less than stellar vision could take in.

That first night in the house, she imagined she heard a dragon crying in the woods.

In the last weeks, she had started working at Stark Tower with Jane. Stark had granted her a two month leave when she had informed him of the death of her mother, and she learned later on that he had lost his own mother when he was twenty.

Darcy knew she couldn’t stay out here. The house was too far away from the city, away from her job and her life. With muttered apologies that she hoped her mother could hear, she set up plans to sell the house and the land.

That all changed when she found the dragon.

Yup. A real live baby dragon. Probably freshly hatched too by the looks of it.

Darcy’s eyes about bug out of her head when she stares at the creature. He stares back at her and she sees he has the biggest most beautiful orange eyes ever, almost like the setting sun. Her heart begins to swell in her chest and oh yeah, this is what her mother and Thor were talking about.

Leaning down in front of the little thing, she watches carefully as he begins to nuzzle at his own scaly chest. And then she jumps out of the way as he sneezes and sets the nearby bush on fire.

“Oh shit, oh shit!” Darcy digs into her backpack and pulls out the two water bottles she had packed this morning in preparation for her hike, dumping them both over the small flames. Luckily that’s enough and it sets the bush to a smoldering muss of smoky weeds. She looks back at the little black and green creature at her feet and oh my Thor he’s yanking on her pant leg like a dog. “What a time to need Thor and have him not be Earthside.”

She quits her job at Stark Tower the next day.

Jane comes out the day after, and Darcy watches through her front window as the small but furious scientist comes stomping up her front walk and uses her whole body weight to bang on the door. “Darcy Abigail Lewis, you open this door!”

She does as she’s told and Jane tumbles in, turning an angry and hurt gaze on her. “Let me explain,” Darcy quickly spits out, holding up two hands like she’s trying to ease a wild dog.

“Explain what? You quit!” Jane shouts. “You left me there all alone!”

“You barely notice I’m there half the time!”

“I notice when you’re not there!”

Darcy folds her arms in front of her chest. “Gee thanks Janey.”

Jane scowls, pushing her dirty hair out of her eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Listen, I will tell you everything. But first, for you to believe me, I’m going to have to show you. Okay?”

The other woman nods. “Okay? Darcy, what is going on here?” Darcy hesitated but her new housemate did the deciding for her by letting out the loudest scream that could probably be heard in Texas. “What the hell was that?”

“Uh...” Another shriek fills the air, one that sounds a heck of a lot like a child shouting MOM. Jane takes off like a shot towards where the scream came from, Darcy hot on her heels. “Jane! Jane, wait!”

Jane barrels through the backdoor and stops suddenly, Darcy nearly slamming into her. “That’s a – that’s –“

Her new friend lays curled on the ground, smoke puffing up through his nose. He lifts his head at the sight of Jane and shrieks again, this time a bit quieter. Both women dive out of the way as he sneezes and lights the nearby brush on fire. Darcy grabs up the fire extinguisher she had left by the backdoor and quickly douses it as Jane inches closer.

“He’s a male,” Jane says and Darcy almost drops the fire extinguisher.

What?”

Jane kneels down in front of him, reaching out a knuckle. He sniffs her hand and lets out a happy chitter, letting her stroke his nose. “Can’t be more than a few weeks old.”

“That’s – that’s what I figured. Uh Jane, how do you know this?”

“Oh please. I’m not just about the stars, Darce.” She smiles up at her, still stroking the dragon’s nose. “He needs a name.”

“Wha-oh! I’ve, uh, been thinking about Norbert.”

Jane laughs and Norbert mimics the noise. “After Harry Potter?”

Darcy shrugs. “Why not?”

Jane continues to scratch Norbert’s nose. “Do you like that name? Norbie?” Norbert chitters again and flops his head down in Jane’s lap. “I think he likes it.”

Darcy kneels down beside them. “I don’t understand. How did you know this?”

“My aunt Charlene told me the stories of the dragons when I was growing up. It was actually that that got me into the stars because I came across the Draco constellation in my research and Draco –“

“Means dragon,” Darcy echoes.

Jane smacks her lips. “I loved the stories but to me they were always stories. And then Thor fell from the sky and I knew then, that wasn’t quite true.”

“That was what clinched it for me too,” Darcy admits. “And he told me that they still roamed the earth too.”

“How did you find him?” Jane asks.

Darcy regales her with the story of her hike, and finding the midget in the brush, freshly hatched and freaked out. She continues on and tells her everything about her heritage too, almost enjoying the gobsmacked expression that crosses her friend’s face.

“Whoa.”

“Yeah.”

They switch spots on the ground, Norbert climbing into Darcy’s lap. “He’s gonna get big, Darce. He’s not one of the small ones, I can tell just by looking at him. You’re gonna have to provide for him, there’s not exactly a dragon rescue that you can go to for help.”

“I do need help though,” Darcy admits. “I need to find someone who knows about the care for dragons, and how to keep him safe. I’ve already started looking and come up with a few bites but the internet is not exactly trustworthy when it comes to stuff like this.”

Jane chuckles and pats her hand. “I have faith in you. Hey, what about Thor?”

“What about him?”

“His magic can help put a barrier around your house so no one wanders in to find Norbert. And he could direct you to someone who is an expert in dragon baby care.”

And that’s exactly what happens.

-;

When he sees his new uniform, Steve almost bursts into laughter.

“Are those scales?”

Maria nods confusedly. “Yeah. Why?”

Steve traces the sleeve and watches as the scales begin to shift in color. You were right, Ma. “Nothing, Maria.”

The other agent leaves and Steve continues to stare at the uniform. His other one got mangled beyond repair in the Battle of New York and to be honest, he wasn’t too upset.

His mother’s words rang in his head when he woke up, alive and somewhat well seventy years later.

Rise up, like the dragon.

So he did.

Steve fiddles with the buttons on his new uniform, snorting with laughter as the scales continue to change to different shades of blue. He sees even a hint of green here and there across his shoulders. If only his Ma and Bucky could see him now. They’d never let him hear the end of it.

After suiting up, he goes down to join the rest of the team. Sam and Natasha are smirking and he flips them his middle finger as he listens to the mission from Fury, which was a low level threat in the middle of the city that once they dispersed, they could be home for lunch. They head for the jet and within a minute, they are downtown to where some asshole with an armory of weapons strapped to his body has taken a bank full of people hostage.

Once he’s taken down and the hostages are freed, Steve walks around the perimeter to double check.

He’s in the back, alone, when it happens.

There’s a great cry above and Steve looks up, seeing nothing. He brushes it off and goes to walk in the back entrance, not noticing how the sunlight makes his scales shine their brightest when, when –

Enormous claws wrap around his upper arms and lift him up, right up off of his feet and into the air. He screams but no one seems to hear, and he wrenches his head up to see – a dragon.

The dragon carries him higher and higher, it’s claws tightening around him the more he struggles.

He faints.

-;

Thor congratulates Darcy at least six times on Norbert.

“You are a great lady, lightening sister. You hold so much power you are not aware of,” Thor tells her as he rapidly shakes her hand.

“Uh, okay?”

Jane smiles sweetly from behind Thor, shaking her head. Thor inspects Norbert, praising his name. “Sir Norbert, the great and noble steed of my lightening sister!”  

Norbert pants like a dog, letting Thor rub his hands all over his shoulders. “He’s a newborn. Probably only two weeks old. He probably survived on insects until you were led to him, Darcy.” Darcy nods, watching as Thor continues to examine Norbert. “He’s going to be big. Probably as tall as you and magnificently strong.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“I would say good. He’s going to be a great one,” Thor smiles at Norbert, who flashes back a gummy grin and bats his big orange eyes at him. Darcy notices the different shades of pink that are forming in his irises.

“Suck up.”

Jane laughs out loud and the tips of Thor’s ear flush scarlet. “I can help with what Jane asked. I can put a barrier around your home so no one will find him. He’s –“ He eyes Norbert for a moment. “He will only be visible to those who believe.”

“Wait, like Santa Claus?”

Darcy chuckles at Jane’s guffaw of laughter and Thor nods. “Yes, exactly like that.”

“Wait a minute –“ Jane cocks her head. “Santa Claus exists?”

Thor winks.

-;

Norbert grows rapidly. Within only a few months, he’s as tall as she is and growing still. Darcy watches as ears like a cat pop from his head and his smile gets wider, thankfully with only one set of teeth in his face. He sneaks inside all the time, despite having more than enough body heat to stay warm outside. She finds him on her couch a lot and soon, he makes her couch collapse from the weight. She ends up buying out Bed, Bath, and Beyond’s pillows and makes him a couch of his own.

Darcy finds a job nearby that keeps her lights on and that’s enough for her. Jane moves her lab to the back room of Darcy’s house, much to the chagrin of Tony Stark. “Hey come on. You’ve taken care of my ass for three years. Least I can do.”

Darcy later learns that Jane is using Norbert’s dragonfire to power some of her machines.

How her house hasn’t blown to kingdom come, she will never know.

Norbert begins to fly at four months old and he is fast. As he gets older his distances increase and sometimes he comes back with gross things like a deer.

And then he comes back with a child’s bright pink bike.

Followed by a sunshine yellow ATV.

“He’s attracted to bright colors!”

“What?”

Jane bursts out laughing. “You have a cat with wings!”

Darcy slaps a hand to her forehead.

The thievery increases to the point that she has to return the stuff in the middle of the night using Norbert’s invisibility shield as help.

“You’re gonna fly him?”

“I have too Janey. There’s no other way I can return his treasures.” She frowns at Norbert who at least has the decency to look ashamed.

“How are you going to stay on?”

Darcy produces the reins she had bought at a nearby sporting store. “Wasn’t easy measuring his fat neck.” Norbert chitters and she shoots him a glare. “Hey, you continue to steal stuff this is how it’s gonna be, young man!”  

Norbert makes a sound that is remarkably like ‘bla bla bla’. Jane laughs again and Darcy gives her a shove before marching over to her dragon and gently looping the reins around his neck and upper arms. “All right? Not too tight?” Norbert shakes his head and Darcy props her foot up on his wing and swings her leg over his large neck. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Holy shit this is trippy.”

“Be careful, Darcy.”

“Oh, I’m always careful. You know me. The Queen of Careful. All righty, Norbie. Up. Slowly.”

Norbert begins to flap his wings like she instructs and rises about ten feet in the air so he can latch his claws around the bike and the ATV. Jane watches them apprehensively. “Are you sure about this?”

“More sure than anythinnnngggggg!”

And off they go.

For about two weeks after that terrifying night, Norbert doesn’t steal anything else. Darcy lets herself breathe a little, hoping like heck this is just a childish phase and he’s moving on.

But she’s never that lucky.

-;

She does the frightening drive into the city one weekend to help Jane drop off some research at the Avengers tower. The Avengers are not there, having been called out on a low level threat but the queen Pepper Potts is, and she asks Jane to stay behind. “They should be back in a few hours and Mr. Stark wants to speak with you. Ms. Lewis, you are welcome to stay as well.”

Something tingles in the root of Darcy’s spine and she shakes her head. “I should really head back. Uh, Jane can you take the subway? I’ll pick you up at the station.”

Jane nods, understanding in her eyes. Before Pepper can even say anything, Darcy bolts from the room. Jarvis speeds the elevator up, taking her back down to the parking garage and she guns it as fast as she can go back to New Jersey. Which takes her a whole two hours but whatever.

When she pulls the car up the long driveway, she can see the shimmer of the force field surrounding her home. After parking the Jeep, the force field swallows her up and leads her to the backyard. A gleeful Norbert is sitting there, munching on the venison steaks she had left him this morning.

“Oh thank Thor.” Trotting over to where he sits, she brushes her fingers up and down his cheek. “I dunno why I had such a bad feeling a little while ago. Maybe I’m spending too much time around magical things.”

Norbert chitters, pressing his cheek to hers. Darcy giggles, letting him nudge her to the right.

A shine of scaly blue catches her attention.

Darcy’s eyes settle and her jaw slide opens.

An unconscious Captain America is lying on her back porch.

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Chapter Text

 

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“What. Did. You. DO?”

Norbert flashes his big stupid smile at her and Darcy turns around wildly, staring at the unconscious Captain like he’s about to jump up and bite her.

“Norbert! We’re taking him back right now!”

Norbert chitters in argument and Darcy shakes a finger in his scaly face. “This ‘I gotta steal shiny stuff’ has got to end! Captain America is not a toy! He is not your shiny! I swear, I will get you some dragon chewies or something but we have to take him back now.”

After fixing the reins back around his neck and shoulders, Darcy kicks her heels and clambers onto Norbert’s back. She fits her feet into the footpeices that Thor had attached last week, wishing she had time to run inside and grab her shoes.

The flying part has gotten easier, quite a bit actually in the recent weeks after all the practice she had gotten returning stuff in the dead of night. Giving the reins a light tug, Norbert rises up in the air and as gentle as a mama cat, wraps his enormous claws around the Captain’s midsection and up they go.

“Please stay asleep. Please stay asleep,” Darcy whispers over and over like a mantra as they fly over the countryside. The sun is low in the sky, casting pretty gorgeous rays across the grassy plains. The colors remind her of Norbert’s eyes and she leans down, patting her boy on top of the head. “I’m not mad at you. You know that right?”

Aroo.”

She practically feels Norbert’s eyes rolling in his head. “Oh come on. You stole a superhero! That’s a huge step up from bikes!”

Norbert’s second “Aroo,” is a bit sadder and Darcy strokes the top of his scaly head. They arrive in the city and Norbert hovers above what Darcy thinks is a bank. Little specks of scarlet and gold are walking out of the building along with something in black with what looked to be a freaking arsenal of weapons.

“Damn. Okay, Norbie, down. Slowly.”

He flaps his great wings and begins to drop towards the ground, and then when they are about four feet up, he releases Steve with a thwump to gravel. Darcy groans, slapping a hand to her forehead. “If you’re going to steal toys, at least treat them gently!”

Rogers!”

“Uh oh. Come on Norbie, get us out of here.”

She barely has time to grab onto the reins again as Norbert spreads his wings and shoots into the sky. A screech rips from her throat and she digs her nails into his black and green scales in an effort to hold on.

They’re a thousand feet in the air when Darcy remembers Jane. Crap. “What do you think, Norb? Shall we pick up the young doctor in style?”

“Hargoo!”

“And so it shall be. To the train station!”

Norbert roared happily and flapped his wings harder.

-;

He wakes up to Barton staring in his face.

“Oh god, I’m in hell.”

A smile crosses Clint’s face and he pats his arm. “Not quite but close enough. You all right?”

There’s a dull thudding in his head but he doesn’t feel any other injuries on his person. He accepts the hand that Clint offers and clampers to his feet, groaning as his vision swims in front of him. “What the hell happened?”

Clint shrugs, keeping one hand on his arm to stop Steve from swaying where he stands. “I just found you here.”

Steve runs a hand over the top of his head, glancing up to the sky. He had thought...

Did he?

Nah.

“I think I need to go to medical when we get back,” he says at last.

Clint smirks. “Did you have a fainting spell, Cap? Need me to carry smelling salts?”

“Shut up.” Taking a couple of cautious steps, Steve is pretty sure he’s not going to pull another Scarlett O’Hara and gently shakes off Clint’s arm. “I’m good. Thanks.”

Clint gives a light nod, like he doesn’t quite believe him but leaves it alone. “We got the asshole by the way. He’s in lock up. What were you doing back here?”

“Wanted to check the perimeter, make sure there were no other unfriendlys hiding.” Clint juts his chin in agreement. “I must have gotten dizzy.”

“Can you do that? I mean –“ Clint wiggles his fingers, gesturing to Steve’s torso. “Because of the good stuff?”

Steve shakes his head. “Not that I know of but I’ll have Helen run some blood tests when we get back.”

“Side effects possibly?” His co-worker offers.

Steve opens his mouth to reply and that’s when Sam and Natasha show up. “Hey! Where have you two been?”

“I just found Cap here –“ Steve smacks him in the stomach. “-oof – checking the perimeter.”

Sam turns expectant eyes on him and Steve shakes away the words. “Nothing. We’re all good. Come on, let’s get back.”

God he wished he could get drunk.

As they boarded the jet, Steve wondered when Thor would be earthside with some of that mead of his. Next time, he wasn’t going to have some measly shot glass full, he was going to steal a whole barrel of it.

-;

Jane almost screams when she sees them hovering in the air outside the station.

After casting a hasty look around to make sure no one else sees the enormous dragon above their heads, Jane begins to walk down the sidewalk. Darcy urges Norbert along, following until they reach an empty area with no passerby. Norbert lowers himself down so Jane can put a foothold up on his throbbing wing and throw her leg up behind Darcy. “I cannot believe you.”

“What? Ever think of riding in style?”  

Darcy.” Jane doesn’t have time to scold her anymore as Norbert takes off like a bullet, her next words turning into a shriek. “Oh my goooooddddd!”

“Hold on tight Jane and enjoy the view!”

Jane buries her face in between Darcy’s shoulder blades, her arms iron tight around her waist. “I swear to Thor, if I fall off –“

“You’re not gonna fall off! Jane look!” Darcy taps the hand unknowingly clenching one of her boobs. “Look.”

Jane finally wrenches her face out of Darcy’s back, her eyes still squinched shut. She manages to peel one open and for a minute she doesn’t see a thing.

And then she sees everything.

“Oh my...”

Darcy giggles in triumph. “Not bad, eh?”

The sun shone in the distance, casting rays of light out across the clouds and dying the fluffy blobs of mist many different shades of pink and amber. Reaching up a hand, she could run her fingers through the puffy clouds and lets out a sigh of wonder. The earth below them was just a flat slab of green and brown, a few speckles of crimson here and there – a sign of the upcoming autumn.

Jane sighs, raising both arms in the air and leaning back far enough so she could watch the stars float by. “Not bad.” A beat. “Thanks Norbie.”

“Aroo.”

-;

When they arrive at the house, Norbert lands gracefully in the backyard and they slide off his back. Jane’s knees tremble a bit and she about falls to the ground, grabbing onto Darcy’s arm as they stagger to the house. “Say, you didn’t tell me why you bolted this morning?”

The scientist falls into a chair at the kitchen table as Darcy sets to making coffee. “Uh, well about that –“

“Did something happen?” Jane asks.

Darcy keeps her back to the other woman. “Sort of?”

“Darcy.”

“It wasn’t bad or anything, it was –“

Darcy.”

“Norbert was out flying while we were gone and he stole Captain America.”

Jane drops the mug that Darcy had just handed her. Coffee spills across the table and drips onto the floor but neither woman pays attention. “Are. You. Serious?” She looks around wildly like Steve Rogers is gonna pop out of the closet. “Where is he?”

“Not here. I made Norbert put him back.”

“Put him back? It’s not like he took a toy off a shelf, this is a person we’re talking about here! Did Rogers freak out? How did he take it?”

Darcy bites her lip. “Actually, uh...”

“Darcy Abigail!”

“All right! Would you stop middle naming me!” Darcy launches into the story of her morning, almost enjoying how Jane’s eyes get comically wide. As she finishes, Norbert crashes through the back door and knocks the now pacing scientist right over, giving her several slurpy kisses up her face. “Awww Norbie!”

Jane pushes the dragon’s great head away and sits up. “Why did you have your back door widened?!”

“He was lonely outside!”

Norbert doesn’t take no for an answer and literally plops his whole body right down in the kitchen, his head pinning Jane’s legs to the floor. Jane frowns, trying not to meet his big orange puppy eyes. “No. No, I am not looking at you.” Darcy parks herself at the table, watching as Norbert makes a kitten sound in the back of his throat, the purr coming out in a rumble and making Jane’s knees shake. “God, must you do that?”

Aroo.”

“In answer to that, yes he must,” Darcy grins.

Jane rolls her eyes and strokes the top of Norbert’s head. “What are you going to do if Rogers remembers?”

“If he does, he does. But he was kind of unconscious through the whole ‘putting back’ ordeal. I think he fainted.”

Jane chuckles despite herself. “Probably from shock.” She digs her nails into Norbert’s scales and he about quivers in delight, rolling over onto his back to allow her more access to his neck. “You have to stop stealing stuff, Norbie! You have to be a good boy!”

“You know he’s not a cat, right?”

“I know!”

-;

“I don’t know why you’re worried, Cap. All your tests came back clean.”

Steve sighed, leaning against the table with both arms crossed. “You’re sure? Absolutely sure?”

Helen gave him a good natured huff, blowing some hair out of her face. She hands him the folder with his results and lets him thumb through it. “I ran everything twice. There’s nothing wrong with you. Your MRI was clean too.”

Steve worries his bottom lip. “Could anything cause –“

“Cause what?”

Helen’s gaze is gentle but he still feels like he’s under a microscope. He glances towards the door and walks over to shut it, turning around to rest his eyes on the young doctor. “Does the doctor patient privilege thing kick in here?” Helen nods. “Could exhaustion or something cause hallucinations?”

“Hallucinations?” Helen repeats.

Steve nods. “I don’t really know how to explain it actually. I, uh, fainted when we were cleaning up after that bank robbery day before yesterday and I had a dream. At least, I think it was a dream. But it was so real and I just –“ His breath is rattling his chest as Steve comes to a stop, and for some reason his hands are shaking.

Helen looks down at the tests still in his hands, lightly plucking them away before the papers are scattered all over the floor. “You have been through a lot in these last months. And yes, exhaustion is possible even though you look like you could run a 5k without breaking a sweat. The world cannot seem to behave itself so the Avengers have been called out a lot and there hasn’t been much time for you to rest.” Steve dips his chin in agreement. “You’re perfectly healthy. Do I think you’re crazy? I think crazy comes with the territory of being a full time superhero. But crazy in the sense that you’re talking about? Absolutely not."

Steve sighs in relief and Helen gives him a smile. “Th-thank you.”

“I’ll tell you what. I can write a report up to pull you off of the team and you take two weeks and just rest. Take it easy, put the shield away, and sit on your ass and do nothing.” Steve chuckles at Helen’s teasing tone. “And when those two weeks are up, then we will see how you’re feeling then. If you’re still worried that something is wrong with you, then we will investigate from there. Okay?”

Steve lets out a small sound of gratitude. Helen pats his arm, passing him back the folder. “These are for you.”

“Thank you,” he whispers. “Thank you so much.”

The doctor grins. “No problem.”

Steve walks out of her office feeling lighter than he has since coming out of the ice. He wasn’t sure what he was going to do now but...a nap was at the top of the list.

-;

A week passes by and he keeps an ear cocked in case he’s needed on a mission but nothing comes. Sam and Sharon both stop by with groceries, neither questioning his decision for a short break and he suspects that Helen got to all of them but at the moment, he doesn’t really care. Let them all think he’s crazy, he’s too tired to give a flying fuck. by

There are no more dreams. No more fainting spells. As the days go, Steve wonders if it was all a fluke and he truly was just exhausted.

Of course, it’s never something simple. No, no, it’s got to be something outlandish and out of legends.

Four days before he has to go back to work, Steve’s out at a small grocery store on the corner near his apartment. He picks up bread, apples, and a gallon of milk, pays the cashier and heads out the door to go home.

He hears the screech of the wild and nearly drops his food as he looks for the source. People continue to pass by him and is he crazy? Was his brain frozen just a little too much in those seventy years? Why isn’t anyone else seeing this? Why isn’t anyone else – whoa!

The claws wrap around his upper arms and he’s swept right off his feet. The groceries then slide out of his hands, falling on the rooftop of a nearby apartment building. The milk explodes into a thousand ripples of white goo all over the place. A scream dies in his throat as he looks up at the beast’s face, and he hears another voice admonishing the beast like he is an irksome child.

“Norbert! Bad dragon! Bad! Captain America is not your shiny!”

Now he screams. Like a girl.

“No! No, please mister, please don’t yell!”

Steve tries to twist in the dragon’s grip but he holds on even tighter, his enormous claws slicing the shoulders of his jacket. A woman’s face appears around the dragon’s neck and he would be marveling at how pretty she was if he wasn’t being held two thousand feet in the air by his arms. “’Please don’t yell?!’” he repeats. “Lady, have you lost your mind!?”

“I didn’t tell him to kidnap you!” the woman shouts back to be heard over the roar of the wind. “Norbert!”

Norbert? Oh, it must be the dragon’s name.

Jesus, a dragon. A dragon. With a name.

They fly higher and higher. The woman yells at him to stop struggling which he does, and the dragon’s grip eases just a bit so he’s actually more comfortable. They fly up over a house in the middle of nowhere and he does scream again when the dragon does a drastic down turn and begins hurtling towards the earth. Oh yeah, this is how he’s gonna die.

But he doesn’t die. The dragon – Norbert – drops him lightly into the high grass in the back yard and his knees immediately give out. He sinks to the ground in a heap and when Norbert lands, the ground rumbles around him.

The woman slides off the back of the dragon and rushes towards him, stopping only when he throws up his hands in warning. “I’m sorry, that was stupid. Are you all right?”

Steve stares at the brunette, his gaze flipping back and forth between her and the quite delighted dragon. He is actually quite beautiful, with black and emerald scales adorning his body, and huge tufted ears like a cat. Enormous orange eyes, the exact color of the setting sun, blink owlishly at Steve.

“I’m...I’m...”

“...in shock,” the woman finishes. “Shit, I am so so sorry. Norbert has a bit of a stealing problem, he’s attracted to anything shiny or sparkley and –“

“You...you...”

She pats her own chest. “Me Darcy. You Cap.”

He gasps then, a little dramatically as his eyes flicker over to the dragon. A dragon. “Lady, you...you...” He points a shaking hand. “You have a dragon!”

The woman rolls her eyes. “Thank you Captain Obvious.”

“You have a dragon!” Good grief, he sounds like he just wandered out of the psycho ward.

“And you’re in shock. Hey stay right there, I’ll get you some water and I’ll explain.”

Steve watches as the woman trots into the house through the backdoor, wondering where the hell he’s going to go. Norbert the dragon inches a little closer and for some reason, Steve’s not scared. Hesitating, he lifts up his fingers and let them hover over Norbert’s nose, feeling his warm breath puffing against his palm.

Norbert sighed and pushed his nose into Steve’s hand.

He hears a gasp from the doorway and looks up to see the woman standing there, a water bottle hanging loosely from her fingers. “Holy shit.”

Steve flinched away from the dragon. “What? What’s wrong?”

The woman shakes her head and stumbles toward him on wobbly legs, staring at Norbert in surprise. “Nothing. Uh, nothing at all...wow.”

“You were going to explain?” Steve gently reminds her.

“Oh yeah!” The woman plops herself down beside Norbert, one hand resting on his large shoulder. “My name’s Darcy. I live here with him,” she scratches behind one of Norbert’s ears and he positively purrs.

Steve fights back a smile before the recognition sets in. “Wait a minute – I know you.”

“Huh?”

“We met once last year. You’re Jane Foster’s assistant, right?”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

“You were in the common room at the Avengers tower trying to steal coffee and the way Stark’s got that machine finagled, it wouldn’t let you.”

Darcy burst into laughter at the memory. One of the few times she had wandered about the tower in the brief time she had worked there, she had found the common room with the biggest coffee maker she had ever set eyes on. The damn thing looked like something a trained barista wouldn’t try to work but Darcy was always up for the challenge. The machine started squawking at her as soon as she laid fingers on it and the noise had sent people running. That was an experience she had happily blocked out after running away with her tail between her legs.

“I had no idea you were there,” she chuckles and Steve joins her. The smile is nice on his always so serious face.

“So this is why you left?”

“Not necessarily. My, uh, mom passed away and I came out here to sell the house. I found this little guy – not so little anymore, are you Norbert? – in the woods. My parents always told me about the legends and well –“

“They’re not legends,” Steve whispers, gazing at Norbert in wonderment. “Wow.”

“Thor told me the truth not long after we met. He’s seen it, he’s seen the spirits of the dragons that still roam.”

“But I thought that those dragons could only bond with certain people? People that carried the ability to tame them?”

Darcy nodded. “Yeah. Apparently I carry that. I’m from a direct line of dragon tamers from the Old World. There hasn’t been one since the dragons were forced to go into hiding and Malex laid all of her eggs. Norbert here is one of those eggs.” She scratches Norbert’s neck and he rolls over onto his back, half in her lap, as his back leg juts up and down in delight.

Steve smiles at the happy dragon, his fingers twitching as they rest against his thigh.

“Thor put a barrier up around the house so nobody wanders in and finds him, but I guess it’s not entirely necessary. Only those who believe can see him, which is how he gets away with his stealing problem.”

“Stealing problem?” He’s been waiting for this explanation.

A sour look crosses Darcy’s face. “He’s pretty much a big cat. He steals anything shiny when he’s out flying. A hot pink bike, a yellow ATV...you.”

What?”

Darcy’s blushing to the roots of her hair. “I’m so sorry. This is so crazy, I know. But Norbert here, he thinks you’re his ‘shiny’ and, uh, well he likes you. A lot.”

“Likes me?” Steve repeats. “How is that possible?”

“Trust me, he’s not gonna try to make you dragon chow.” Darcy looks at Norbert. “He steals anything bright he’s attracted too and when he first brought you here, you were in your scaly blue uniform –“

“That wasn’t a dream...” Steve’s voice trails off in wonder. “When I woke up back at the bank, I thought I was losing it. I even went and had a full physical and a brain scan done!” 

Darcy seems like she cannot decide whether to laugh and look guilty. She goes with guilty. “I’m sorry. I guess I should have just waited until you woke up and explained everything but it’s such a fight or flight response with his thievery! I was hoping you wouldn’t remember anything and we could all go on our merry ways.”

“Merry ways?” Steve snorts. “Lady, you’ve got a problem –“

Darcy’s hackles raise. “Excuse –

He quickly backtracks. “No, no that’s not what I mean. Sorry. It’s just –“ He gestures wildly at Norbert, who gives him a toothy smile. “This is nuts. You have a dragon living in your backyard that steals things. These were legends, stories that I heard when I was a boy and now they’re actually true and I’m living it.” He’s babbling now like a crazy person and Darcy seems like she’s wondering if she should slap him. Sucking in a breath, he struggles to calm down.

Then Darcy reaches over and touches his wrist. The tips of his fingers begin to tingle and she pulls away but her hand still hovers over his skin. “Breathe. Just breathe. In through your nose and out through her mouth.” She makes him mimic her movements and a minute later his heart rate returns to normal. “You okay?”

Steve watches Norbert, who seems to wear the same expression of worry that Darcy does. “My ma told me the stories when I was a kid. She always said that I was like the dragon Malex and that I would survive anything. I knew she was just telling me that to distract me from the fact that every breath I took could have been my last.” Darcy flinches at his words but he plows on. “I told those stories to the Commandoes on the flight back after I pulled them out of that Hydra plant. They asked for them again later when we listened to bombs going off just a mile away.”

“Did they like them?”

Steve nods. “Oh yeah. Especially Bucky –“ His voice breaks on the name. “He always asked for those stories. But they were just stories.”

“I know,” Darcy says softly. “The night I realized it was all true, even before I found the little guy, I had a panic attack and then got completely shit-faced.” Steve chuckles. “I’d offer you some but I understand that’s not quite possible unless you have some of Thor’s magic mead.”

“I’ve been meaning to steal some of that the next time he brings it to Earth.”

Darcy smirks. “I’ll see if I can chummy some off of him too and save it for you.”

They fall into surprisingly companionable silence, broken only by Norbert’s happy snores while he drools in Darcy’s lap. “Do you wanna --?”

“Can I?” Steve asks. Norbert hops up immediately and they get to their feet too. It’s then that Steve realizes just how big the dragon is, standing just a bit taller than he is himself with enormous eyes that take up almost his whole face. “He’s...he’s...beautiful.”

Darcy smiles like a proud mama. He lifts his hand, a little unsure, and lets it hover above Norbert’s nose. The dragon does the rest and presses his whole face into Steve’s palm.

Darcy gasps again, clapping a hand to her mouth. “Steve...”

That tingling has returned, covering Steve’s whole hand and going right down his arm. “I don’t understand.”

Aroo.”

That feeling crosses his chest and settles right into his heart. When he meets Norbert’s eyes, the great creature gazes back, the soft sunshine of his eyes filled with nothing but trust.

“My ma told me about this too.”

Darcy strokes Norbert’s neck and he leans a little bit to the side, greedily seeking more of her touch but he doesn’t pull away from Steve. “Wow.”

.

 

Chapter Text

[ music ]

.

.

By the time the train pulls into Union Station, Steve’s head is spinning.

Not four hours ago, a dragon had plucked him up off of the streets of DC and carried him all the way to New Jersey. A dragon. In all the things he had seen in his many (few) years, this should be easy-squeasy for him.

But not so much.

He had liked Darcy right away but couldn’t shake the look on her face when he had touched Norbert. She had known something, something that she wasn’t telling him. Not that he could blame her though, it’s not every day someone’s dragon steals a person and brings that person to their...what was it? Mother? Bleh, no way. Tamer? That sounded better.

When he gets back to his apartment, passing by his friendly blonde neighbor carrying her laundry up the stairs, he settles down in front of his computer and pulls up Google. Well, gotta start somewhere.

-;

Malex was the last known dragon of the legend.

He finds an artist’s rendering of what she probably looked like and he’s taken aback by how enormous she was. The dragon seemed to have stood at nearly twenty feet tall with glistening red and blue scales, and claws large and long enough to wrap around his midsection. He could tell just by the look of her that she was an alpha. The website he was on stated that Malex had laid hundreds of eggs all over the world and the eggs had become dormant. Well, all except one.

In the Old World, humans became afraid of the dragons and started wiping them out. Malex had been the last to go and had taken the last years of the war with humans to place her babies everywhere in hopes that another tamer would be born and be able to help bring about peace between the dragons and the humans.

That tamer was Darcy.

He snorts at the thought of that five foot nothing smartmouth being the queen of dragons or whatever. Her own dragon stood as tall as she did and had the attitude of a cat. They did not seem to be the powerful beings that were depicted on the computer screen. Malex’s tamer, a woman with long chestnut hair, stood at over six foot tall herself and carried at least four long extremely sharp looking swords. Darcy and Norbert were kittens compared to this woman and her dragon.   

But kittens do have claws.

-;

He’s trying again to get the damn milk.

Back at work that morning, he had cheerfully chased down two bank robbers and served them their nuts on his shield so he was in a pretty good mood. All he wanted was the milk and to go home and get a nap.

Truth be known, he doesn’t get the stupid milk.

When Norbert grabs him up, the gallon slides from his hands and lands on a street corner this time, spattering all over the ground and spraying at least four people with its gooey contents. He opens his mouth to shout an apology and quickly closes it, reaching up to grab onto Norbert’s claws and hold on for the ride.

Darcy’s not home when Norbert lets him fall unceremoniously into a large pile of his own dragon dung. Steve lays like a heap for a moment and then clampers to his feet, trying to fleck the stuff off his shoulders and pant legs. Norbert literally warbles with laughter at the sight of him and Steve’s tempted to flip the dragon off. In fact, he does and that’s when Darcy catches him.

She’s dressed in a business suit with her long hair pulled back into a ponytail, a pair of overalls and Wellingtons in her hands. “Why are you giving my dragon the bird?”

He points to himself. “Did you not see the dragon shit?”

Darcy’s gaze flickers to the scum all over his light blue teeshirt and he can see she is holding back a smile. “That’s why I am out here.” She shakes the boots like they hold the answers and he rolls his eyes. “You’re welcome to use my shower. Throw your clothes in the washing machine.”

He does as he’s told and as he marches into the house, he throws another scowl at the grinning dragon. “He made me drop my milk again too!”

“I have an extra gallon in the fridge!” Darcy hollers back. And that’s the end of that.

Getting out of the shower a few minutes later, he notices there are a pair of jeans that are a wee bit too short for him resting on the sink, along with a plain black tee. He pulls them on, scrubbing the wet towel over his hair and pads out to the kitchen where Darcy is making dinner.

“Get all the dung cleaned up?”

She snorts into the salad she is currently preparing. “I have a compost. Keeps the smell at bay and it’s good for the environment.”

“Is that so?”

Yes, it’s so. Take a class, buster.”

He chuckles and readjusts the hem of his shirt. “Uh, thanks for the clothes. I’ll get out of your hair.”

She turns around and fixes him with a look he cannot quite read. “Or you could stay for dinner? I mean, my dragon keeps thinking you are his shiny toy and dropped you in his own poop, it’s the least I can do.”

“Fine. But let me help.”

It’s surprisingly domestic, making a meal with a woman he barely knows. With gentle prodding he finds the things she needs for the penne with vodka sauce she is making and within a few minutes the sliced chicken is frying in the pan with the water boiling in a pot beside it. “So tell me Rogers, where do you hail from?”

“Hail from?” he repeats. “Brooklyn. You?”

“Here. This is the house I grew up in, actually.”

Steve blinks, glancing around the enormous kitchen. “Here? Really?”

Darcy nods. “Yepper. I never intended on coming back here after scoring that position as lab manager for Stark but alas, here I am.”

“Because of Norbert?”

“Because of Norbert,” she agrees. At the sound of his name, Norbert trills in delight and Darcy smiles affectionately. “Also, my parents passed and I inherited this house. Two weeks later I found that big pain in the butt out in the woods.” She snatches a spoon out of his hand and stirs at the nearly done chicken. “Enough of my life story. What about you, city boy?”

He chuckles. “I guess you could call me that.”

“As long as you don’t call me the Mother of Dragons, I think we’re good.”

This time he laughs. “Nothing much to tell. Grew up in the thirties, dad died before I was born and mom died when I was eighteen.”

She winces in empathy. “Dead parents club. Not fun being a member, is it?”

He shakes his head. Nearly eighty years had passed since his mother’s death but to him, it was just a few years ago. “My ma told me about the dragons. Malex was her favorite.” Darcy clucked her tongue but said nothing. “Big distraction policy since I was so sick. And I guess...” he shrugs and looks out the window. Norbert is laying in a heap on the ground, happily sucking on what looks to be a large fishbone. “A tiny part of me believed in it.”

“You don’t have to bullshit me.”

“What?”

Darcy’s smiling softly when he looks up. “It’s okay, Cap. Not many people believe. It’s not gonna hurt my feelings.” He scoffs out a breath, hiding a grin behind his cup. Worth a try at least.

Once dinner is finished, Darcy goes up to finish the laundry while he takes out three large salmon to Norbert. The dragon goes into a puppy bow and he sticks his bum up in the air, long emerald tail whipping back and forth in excitement. Steve chuckles and tosses him the first fish, which he catches in a flying leap. Steve throws the second fish into the air and Norbert takes flight again, snatching it up with his body curved in mid air. Holy shit, the dragon likes to play fetch.

Steve waits until he’s finished his last fish before pulling down a thick branch from a nearby tree and slicing off the sharp ends. He kind of wishes he had his shield, they could have quite the game of frisbee. Norbert spots what he is doing from his warm spot in the grass and leaps to his feet, his bum shaking in anticipation. He feels a smile pull his lips up and he throws the branch far and high into the air.

Norbert takes off after it, his enormous wings flapping so hard that they create gusts of wind that lift up the hem of Steve’s shirt. The dragon snatches the branch up at the last second and turns gracefully, his wings stretched out wide, to come back and drop the slobber covered branch at Steve’s feet. He stays airborne, waiting patiently for him to toss it again.

Which he does.

Steve tries to make the throws more complicated but Norbert eases through each one, grabbing the branch up and bringing it to Steve until there was nothing left but a soggy hunk of wood. Steve tosses it away, opening his mouth to say something only to be cut off by, “Cap, your clothes are dry.”

Norbert wilts, landing on the ground with a loud and dusty thwump. He drops his head down and bumps his nose up underneath Steve’s hand and Steve chuckles, scratching Norbert’s scales. “Sorry little guy.” Norbert warbles and leaps up to lick Steve’s face, covering him in sticky dragon slobber.

He groans, trying to wipe it off with his sleeve. “That doesn’t wash out,” Darcy tells him from the doorway.

Steve scrubs his sleeve across his face. “Seriously? Then how --?”

“Lava bar for the face and hands,” Darcy cocks her head towards the kitchen. “I could bottle his saliva and sell it for glue.”

“Thanks for that.”

Darcy grins. “Anytime.”

-;

“Rogers, are you listening?”

Steve scowls into Rumlow’s face, giving a swift nod. The plane jarred slightly to the right, toppling them all over a bit. Natasha grabs his arm to steady him. “How many hostages?”

“Twenty five.”

Steve finds himself rattling off instructions to which the team accepts and pulls his helmet on. Natasha adjusts the bites on her wrists, watching him out of the corner of her eye. “Did you do anything fun Saturday night?”

Well, Saturday afternoon he had been stolen by a dragon and been flown a hundred miles to a small farm in New Jersey while dangling in the air, only held up by his shoulders. And then he had spent several hours with a sarcastic brunette and played fetch with the kidnapping dragon. So...yeah. He did.

“Well, all the boys in my barbershop quartet are dead so I’d have to say no.”

Natasha shoots him a teasing smile. “You know, if you ask Kristin in statistics out she’d probably say yes.”

The back door of the jet lowers and chilly wind begins to rush in. He backs up towards the mouth of the plane, making sure his shield is firm on his back. “That’s why I don’t ask!”

“Too shy or too scared?!” Natasha shouts after him.

He’s not lying as he hollers back. “Too busy!” And throws himself head first out of the plane.

When he lands feet first on the ship, he’s sure he hears the roar of a dragon somewhere off in the distance.

Rumlow and Natasha land a few minutes later, detaching the parachutes from their uniforms. Natasha catches his distraction out of the corner of her eye. “You okay?”

He nods. “Fine. Let’s go.”

After pulling out the hostages and one bitching Jasper Sitwell, they take to the sky. As the plane rises up off of the deck of the ship, Steve hears the cry of the dragon again. He glances around at the rest of the occupants of the plane, his eyes falling on Natasha and she’s deep in conversation with Rumlow, having not heard a thing.

-;

The street outside his apartment is surprisingly empty. Steve glances towards the sky as he gets off of his bike, but he doesn’t see the stars. He doesn’t see the stars much here in DC. When he was a kid, his mother would have to take him outside the city to see them. And that had been before his health had done a rapid decline and then she couldn’t afford to the trip. Steve wasn’t sure what brought him back to the city. To any city, actually.

He hears the cry again and manages to look up in time to see Norbert swooping down, his great wings spread out far. The shine of the city lights twinkle through his wings, just like stars. Steve sighs, making sure to drop his helmet down on the handle of his bike in time as Norbert’s claws wrap around his shoulders and lift him up into the air.

The dragon warbles above him. “Yeah, yeah nice to see you too Norbert.”

Steve struggles to situate himself a bit more comfortably but that is hard to do when he is dangling a thousand feet in the air. His fingers wrap around Norbert’s silver claws and he looks up to the sky, only to see two thick leather bands hanging down around the dragon’s neck.

He’s so surprised he almost slides right out of Norbert’s grip. Snatching up the ends of the bands, he glances up to the underside of Norbert’s massive jaw. “Hey little guy, you wanna turn me loose so I can get up there?”

Norbert warbles and his grip tightens briefly, his claws slicing into the shoulders of Steve’s jacket. The claws loosen when he hears Steve’s hiss of pain and he makes a low noise of apology. Steve kicks up and manages to find a foothold on Norbert’s shoulder, hands wrapped tightly against his rock hard skin. “All right, let go of me.” Norbert does as he’s told this time and Steve throws a leg over his back and slides on.

He can see the stars up here.

With the reins still tightly looped around his hands, Steve gazes up at the sky. Each star glistens with a different color, twirling around in the inky black of the night. Norbert warbles again. “Aroo?”

“Yeah buddy,” Steve whispers, unable to tear his eyes away from those stars.

Norbert dips suddenly, wings coming in just a bit at his sides. Steve stretches his own arms out then, holding the reins in his left hand. The wind rushes through the sleeves of his jacket, air cleaner than he had tasted in ages. A happy yep leaves Norbert’s mouth and he mirrors it, laughing as Norbert flies back up.

He’s flying. He’s flying.

On a dragon.

If only his Ma could see him now.

-;

“I’ve got to get a saddle or something for him.”

He snorts, glancing up at Darcy as she passes him a beer from her fridge. “Are you serious?”

“This is my serious face,” she replies, pointing to her chin with a teasing grin.  

A very pretty face, he thinks. He takes a too large slug of beer and ends up coughing it all over his front. Darcy watches him with amusement before Norbert throws a slobbery wet branch in her lap. She tosses it back and he takes off after it, happy squeaks echoing through the air. “I can ask Thor to work some of his magic. He’s due to be Earth side soon.”

“Easier than going to your local Tractor Supply?”

Darcy clicks her tongue and winks. “You betcha.” Her shoulder bumps against his as she takes a sip from her drink, letting out a loud noise of pleasure as the alcohol hits the back of her throat. “I’m sorry he keeps grabbing you up.” She nods towards his torn jacket. “Can’t feel too good.”

Steve shrugs. “I’ve had worse. It’s not that I’m worried about.”

“I do see leaving the reins on helped?”

“You did that on purpose?”

She chuckles. “Yep. When he dropped you in a pile of his own poop, I just thought that maybe leaving his reins on would give you a little hand.”

He nudges his shoulder against hers. “Thank you for that.”

“Anytime Cap.”

“Steve.”

“Hmm?”

“Call me Steve.” It sounds kind of stupid to say that but here, here he’s not Captain America. He doesn’t want that.

Darcy smiles and bumps his shoulder back, holding out her hand. “Nice to meet you Steve. I’m Darcy.”

Her skin is warm against his as he takes her hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. They smile goofily at each other for what seems like forever, the moment thoroughly ruined when Norbert prances up and sprays them with dragon drool.

“Argh! Norbert, this is a new blouse!”

-;

Two days later he runs into Helen.

The young doctor smiles at him and he beams. “Hi Helen!” A passerby agent gives him a funny look and he realizes that he’s never been this...well, happy before, especially in front of others. Darcy had called him ‘Steve the Stoic’ yesterday and he had to give himself a reminder to smile just a little bit more. So he did.

The woman reaches him in three strides, boots thumping against the floor. “You’re looking well. How was your vacation?”

“Fantastic. Had a little trouble getting milk though.” The words fall over his lips a little too quick and he gives himself a mental smack upside the head.

Helen lifts a brow at his strange choice of words. “I see. But how are you? Are you feeling better?”

He smiles again and gives her shoulder a squeeze. “I am feeling great. Thank you, Helen.

“What exactly did I do?”

Steve cocks his head, lips still twisted in a happy grin. “Everything.”

-;

Chapter Text

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.

She’s awoken in the middle of the night by a crash in her kitchen.

Darcy freezes, ears listening hard as the noises increase, followed by Norbert’s large footfalls. Waiting for the shriek of some crispy fried asshole that never comes, Darcy reaches for her taser and tosses the blankets off of her legs. Padding down the hallway, the taser alive with electricity and gripped in both of her hands, Darcy comes across Norbert snoozing away on the enormous pile of pillows that she leaves him on the floor in the living room.

“Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.”

Norbert snores on. Darcy looks up to see the door to Jane’s makeshift lab (which is actually supposed to be her second bedroom, go figure) hanging open. Peeking around the side, she spies a very disheveled Jane pouring over the laptop, the glow from the screen illuminating her pretty face. “Jesus Jane, Norbert could have ate you!”

Jane doesn’t look up from the screen. “Oh please, one hot dog from the fridge and he went right back to sleep.”

Darcy throws a scowl over her shoulder at the still oblivious dragon and lowered her taser, setting it down on one of the tables once she had killed the electricity. “What are you doing here at two in the morning?”

“I’m taking the six am red eye to London. The president of Oxford University wants me to replace one of his lecturers for the next three weeks while he’s off getting surgery.”

“You’re going to be teaching again?” Darcy asked. “You hated teaching.”

“I did not! I hated the other teachers.”

Darcy scoffed. “But of course. None of them had a mind as brilliant as yours.”

“Exactly.”

She peeked over Jane’s shoulder, watching as thousands of data points scan across the screen, obviously heading to the flash drive clipped into the side. “You’re gonna make a lesson out of that?”

“Nope, I’m taking my work with me. I know I’ll find some down time between classes to do it.”

Darcy snorted in disbelief but clammed up when Jane glowered at her. “Well okay, you be careful. And if you need your crap in the future, just call. Don’t break in.”

“Because your protection dragon will eat me?”

Exactly.” Darcy watches her friend clickity clack on the keys for a few more minutes before yawning. “I’m going back to bed. You be careful in London, all right?”

Jane makes a noise and Darcy takes that as a ‘Yes I will’ and turns back to pad out of the room and walk to the kitchen. She pokes around in the fridge for that leftover pasta salad she had made for dinner, unearthing it with a cheerful, “A-ha!”

“A-ha what?” Darcy jumped about a foot in the air and nearly choked on the tomato she had just popped into her mouth. “Jeez, wear a bell will you?” Her friend chuckled, settling her overstuffed bag down on the floor. “You gonna...” Darcy looks up in time to see Jane gazing out the window.

“Uh, Darce? Were you expecting company?”

Darcy felt her back go rigid. “What do you mean?”

“There’s...a woman standing in your yard.”

A strip of lightening illuminates the whole house, making both women jump. When Darcy turns to look, yep right in her yard, framed scarily by the flashing lights of electricity above, is a woman. She looks relatively young, with dark hair that hangs past her waist, but Darcy gets the sense that she’s actually quite old.

The following rumble of thunder gets Norbert up on his dragon feet, the scales on his back rigid with tension. “Easy boy.” Darcy reached for her taser, and to her horror, she realized she realized she had left it on the table in the lab. “Here.” She breathed a sigh of relief when Jane pressed the weapon into her hand.

“You will not be needing that.”

Jane bit back a squeal, clamping her hand around Darcy’s wrist. “Who are you?” Darcy gazed at this woman in interest, noticing a second later that her fear was abating. Norbert growled, moving in front of them with a loud crash that shook the kitchen.

The woman barely blinks at the dragon just inches away from her. “Please Darcy. I am not here to hurt you.”

Darcy scoffed. “That’s what they all say.” She lifts the taser. “Who are you? What do you want?”

The woman sighed, seemingly irritated at Darcy, who didn’t understand why. The woman was breaking into her house. Jane’s yanking on her shirt sleeve. “Darcy. Darcy!”

“What?”

“This is Malex’s tamer.”

The taser nearly falls out of her hand.

-;

“My name is Demetria.”

Darcy choked on her cocoa, coughing so hard that Jane has to thump on her back. “That explains a lot,” She says, wiping at her streaming eyes.

“What do you mean?” Jane asks.

“Demetria’s my name. My real one.”

Now it’s Jane’s turn to choke. “So you lied on your application?”

“Like you’re some angel,” Darcy snorts, ignoring the way Jane not so subtly flips her the bird.

Demetria sighs again. The woman seems to do an awful lot of that, Darcy notes. She reaches down to scratch the top of Norbert’s head. “So you’re Norbert’s great-great-great-great-great-great – (“Darcy!”) – great grandma?” This time she gets a scowl out of Demetria, who’s actually quite scary looking.

“Not quite, Darce. She’s your great eighteen times over grandmother.”

Darcy stared at the woman for a moment, her mouth opening and closing like a fish. “Oh. Oh. What –“ Her lips were suddenly not working anymore. That was first. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

Demetria shrugged almost nonchalantly. “I am. In a way. That’s why I am here now. I have a gift for you.”

“A gift?” Darcy repeated.

“You are Norbert’s true guardian. You have the soul to protect him. I’ve been watching and waiting for over two thousand years because I could not let myself rest until someone could protect Malex’s children.”

“Wait a minute...” Jane leans forward. “...children? I thought all of Malex’s eggs were in stasis. Except for Norbert, obviously.”

“They were. They have been for two millenia but now they are being born.”

“Because of me?” Darcy asked.

“That’s right. They are waiting for you.”

Before Darcy can question that even further, Demetria reaches over and grabs her wrists with an iron clad grip. “Hey!” Jane snarls.

Norbert’s on his feet, all of his teeth bared in a growl but Demetria pays them no mind. “I want you to listen to me, Darcy. These dragons, Malex’s children, they need you to be able to care for them. To get them to a safe place because the world right now is not ready. It might not ever be.”

“B-But...” Darcy’s voice trails off. “...why me?”

“Because!” Demetria’s tone sharpens. “You were marked for this, Darcy. A thousand years ago, when you became a star in the sky, this became your destiny. I need to know, I need to know now if you are willing to take this on.”

“If it’s my destiny, I have no choice, do I?”

Jane leans forward. “Darcy –“

Demetria smiles in satisfaction. Darcy’s tempted to scream but keeps a lid on it. Anything to get the crazy ghost out of here.

“I accept.” Norbert rumbles beside her, turning his orange eyes up to rest on her face. She feels his gaze on her face as she turns back to Demetria and twists her hands so they rest in the woman’s palms. “I accept my role as protector of the dragons and I swear I will do what I can to find them and take them to a safe place.”

Demetria gently tugs her to her feet, their hands still linked. “That’s all I need to hear. Please, shut your eyes.”

Darcy does as she’s told, and she hears Jane clamper to her feet too. Demetria begins to say something in an language that she doesn’t understand, but judging by Jane’s intake of breath, she does. There’s a sudden warmth on her arms and her eyes fly open to watch as the tattoos from Demetria’s arms begin to slide off of her skin and ink their way up Darcy’s wrist. “What are you –?”

Demetria shushes her and continues to chant. Darcy hisses as the warmth in her arms turns to pain. Quite a bit of pain actually, but when she tries to wrench her arms away from Demetria, the woman’s grip turns iron clad once again. Jane shouts as Demetria’s song gets louder but she goes on like Jane hadn’t said a word.

When she finally lets go of Darcy’s arms, Darcy falls straight to the floor. Norbert’s neck snaps out and she lands on top of him instead of the coffee table. The dragon makes a noise of worry in the back of his throat and she attempts to pat his large nose, swallowing a cry of pain instead.

“What did you do to her?!” Jane demands.

Darcy wrenches her eyes open to stare down at her arms. Thin black lines twirl their way across her skin, around her wrists and up past her elbows, disappearing underneath the sleeves of her teeshirt. When she blinks, the swirls of ink fade away, right before her very gaze. Jane slaps a hand over her mouth to swallow her gasp.

Demetria’s smiling, and it suddenly occurs to Darcy that she looks different. More faded, like a picture on an old television screen. “It’s done,” she whispers, her voice more tired than ever.

But peaceful.

Darcy straights, leaning on Norbert for support, to meet the woman’s gaze. “It’s done?”

Demetria nods. “I can rest now.”

Jane grasps Darcy’s hand. “Rest then. Be at peace.”

Demetria smiles again and as she closes her eyes, her whole body begins to crumble right before them. The wind picks up outside to an absurd level, throwing the kitchen door open, and picking up what was left of Darcy’s ancient ancestor and carrying her along as she goes, goes away to finally pass onto whatever world awaited her.

The door shuts itself with a resounding boom. Darcy falls backwards onto the sofa with a loud sigh, wincing when her arms flop against the cushion. “Yeowtch, what a bitch.”

Jane looks down at her. “Your arms or Demetria?”

Darcy hums but says nothing.

-;

He notices the pain in his back when he’s in the gym with Sam and Natasha. Pain wasn’t unfamiliar to him, even now, after all this time. So when he first feels the stinging slice up his back, he’s sure he pulled something and it will be healed in a few hours.

And then it doesn’t go away. When he tries to lay down on the weight bench, the mere brush of his back against the nylon makes him rear back up and place his hands on the small of his spine.

“Steve, you all right?”

Beads of sweat form on his forehead, and his teeth sink into his bottom lip. “Shit, uh, no.”

Natasha kneels before him, leaning down so she can look into his face. “Where’s the pain at?”

“M-my back and my ar-arms,” he manages to force out, the sweat literally dripping down his face.

Sam steps around the bench to gently lift up the back of his teeshirt, letting out a gasp a second later. “Since when could you get tattooed?”

Steve makes the mistake of trying to look over his shoulder at the other man, the mere movement sending more pain shooting up. “What the hell are you talking about?”

“It’s pretty cool though. Dragon wings, I think? Am I right?”

The pain is starting to fade and Steve gets to his feet, turning on the spot to pull his shirt up and over his shoulders, letting it flop against his chest. He sees the inking then, the actually quite beautiful design of dragon scales stretching over his shoulders and down along his upper bicep. “What the...uh –“ he quickly mumbles something that not even he understands and bolts for the locker room.

Once the door is shut and locked behind him, Steve yanks the shirt from around his neck and goes over to stand in front of the mirrors. He had once rolled his eyes at the wall to wall mirrors in the bathroom but now he was grateful because he could see every inch of his pink skin.

Words written in a language he couldn’t understand stretch along his lower back, while dragon scales dot along his spine, fading over his shoulder blades into two wings, the tips touching his elbows. Then, to his shock, they begin to lighten and grow faint to the point where he can barely see them anymore.  

Steve stares in the mirror as each little bit slides away into nothingness, almost like they were never there at all.

-;

“Go to London.”

“And leave you here? No way.”

“You were going to leave me here in the first place. Now that I am some dragon warrior princess, you want in on all the fun.”

Her favorite scientist huffs. “I can catch a later flight or the dean can hire someone else. It’s fine, I don’t really care. You need me here.”

“What are you going to do? Run off to Dragonland with me? Come on.”

“I can help!”

“You can help me more by doing your own thing!”

“What if –“

Ding dong.

Darcy’s gaze darts towards the front door. Who the hell is that at eight in the morning? Norbert leaps up a little too quickly and his feet crash into the linoleum of the kitchen floor, causing the table to shake. As she goes to usher the dragon backwards towards the kitchen door, her phone buzzes.

“It’s Steve.”

“I’ll go let him in –“ Jane goes towards the door and stops in her tracks. “Wait. Steve who?”

Darcy’s already outside when she yells, “Steve Rogers!”

The name doesn’t settle in Jane’s brain until she opens up the front door and finds Captain America standing on the front step. “Holy – uh, captain, what are you doing here?”

Aroo!”

Norbert, no!”

Before Jane or Steve can utter another word, the dragon is zooming over the top of the house like a rocket and snatches Steve right off of the porch. Jane curses and slams the door, running back through the house and out the back to where Norbert has courteously dropped Steve right into another pile of his own dragon shit, right where Darcy is trying to pull herself out.

“What in the Thor Norbert!” Darcy’s swearing, slipping deeper in the enormous dragon-pie of crap. “Oh it’s in my hair!”

“Hang on, I’ll help – whoa no I won’t!” Jane would find this funny if it wasn’t so horrifying at the same time as she watches Steve lose his balance and fall back into the muck.

Darcy rolls onto her hands and knees, still cursing, and crawls backwards out of the mud and shit. “Hose!”

“Oh, right!”

Steve’s doing the same when Jane turns on the garden hose, letting out a girly squeak when the icy blast of water first hits him. “That’s enough Jane!" Darcy shouts. "That’s enough! You’re gonna drown me!”

A second later, the scientist is staring at a dripping wet and still filthy Captain America and her best friend, both looking like drowned rats. Norbert is warbling with laughter behind them and Darcy’s exhausted face slides into a glare. “Gimmee that hose!”

Norbert flies up when the water jets him in the face, cursing them out in dragon speak.

Jane cuts the water, turning to her wet companions. “Can someone please tell me what the hell  is going on?”

Steve tries to flick some of the brown and green goo from his shoulders and ends up wiping more across his collarbone. Just then, as the corner of his shirt is pulled down, Jane glimpses the tattoo rising up on his skin. “I’d like to know too,” he replies, noticing Jane staring at his shoulder. He yanks the collar down to show Darcy, who promptly slips and falls into the dragon dung once again.

-;

“Does it hurt?”

Darcy shakes her head. Steve is holding her wrist is both of his hands, his thumb gently brushing against her skin. The tattoo had faded again, so she wasn’t quite sure why he was holding onto her but heck, she wasn’t complaining.

“Not so much anymore. I think you get used to it after a while.”

“I’m still amazed that you two have been carrying this dragon affair on for as long as you have and Darcy hadn’t uttered a word about it too,” Jane replies dryly from the other end of the sofa. (“Hey!”) “Oh come on, Darce. This is the first time in all the years I have known you that you’ve kept a secret.”

Darcy shrugs. “I suppose you’re right.”

“So now what?” Steve asked, pushing his sopping hair back out of his eyes. “How do I explain magic tattoos to the rest of the team?”

“Wear long sleeves?” Steve scowls at her. “I’m sorry, Steve, I never asked for any of this.”

Steve pats her hand, finally letting go of her wrist a moment later. “I know you didn’t.”

“So what now?” Jane supplies. “She’s gotta go ‘save the dragons’ and she can’t go alone so –“

“Wait a minute! You’re supposed to go to London!”

Jane shrugs this time. “I already called the Dean. He understands and he’s going to hire another teacher.”

Jane.”

“Where are you going to start?” Steve asks. “If you find them, where will they go?”

“I already have a thought,” Darcy suggests. She looks at Jane. “Asgard.”

Jane nods. “That’s...fantastic actually. Thor would have to pull some strings and threaten to have Loki turned into a lizard permanently if he fucked around but – gosh, that is a really good idea.”

Darcy flaps her hands. “It happens sometimes. Ouch!” The tattoos are rising on her skin again, the symbols darker and more pronounced then before. Steve hisses and pulls up the sleeve of his shirt to see the same thing. Darcy had suggested a few weeks back that Steve keep some extra clothes here at the house, just in case of another dropping in poop incident, which she’s glad she did now. “I think that’s a good sign.”

Jane nods at Steve. “You need to tell him before we get started. He deserves to know.”

Steve frowns. “Huh? Know what?”

Darcy bites her lip, drawing her cotton covered legs up to her chest on the sofa. “Um, the last ‘pair’ to bond with dragons and have this –“ she waves helplessly at his shoulders.
“ – were Demetria and her husband. She was the tamer and her husband was Malex’s rider.”

Steve cocks his head to the side. “What does that mean...?”

Darcy quickly shakes her head and jumps to her feet. “Nothing!” she flips Jane off. “Just a coincidence, that’s all. Coffee?”

Jane growls under her breath but says nothing, climbing off the couch too. “I’m going to go and start working in the lab to see if we can get any idea where these dragons are. If we’re going to do this, we’re going to need to leave soon. Darcy, if I could look at your wrists, maybe I can translate some of the symbols. Your back too, Steve, if that’s all right.”

“Yeah, uh, sure.”

The dryer beeps. “I think our clothes are done. Steve, if you wanna get out of here, I understand –“

“Wait –“ His hand catches her fingers, making care to avoid her still sore wrist. “If you two are going to go off on a dragon trip – I’d like to go too. I want to help.”

.

.

.

.

 

This is close to how I picture Darcy's tattoos. 

And this is what I am thinking for Steve's. But you know, with dragon wings. 

 

Chapter Text

a/n: I drew the tattoos on Steve here. Check it out.

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“Stop squirming.”

Darcy sighed for the tenth time in the last twenty minutes. “I’m not squirming.”

Jane rolled her eyes. “Just hold on, I’m almost done.” Darcy glanced at the notebook in front of Jane, watching as the final symbol took shape on the page. “There.”

“That looks like a bunch of gibberish.”

Jane shrugged. “Yeah I know. But it’s something and I want to figure it out.”

Darcy chuckled, patting her shoulder. “All right. Go nuts Madam Furiousa.”

Before she can escape Jane grabs her arm. “Here, take this.” She shoves another notebook into Darcy’s hand. “Try to copy down what’s on Steve’s back before they fade again.”

Darcy stared at the notebook for a moment. “Me?”

“Yes you. No go!”

Darcy salutes her before walking out of the office, notebook in hand. Steve is still in the living room, Norbert drooling at his feet. “I’ve given up,” he chuckles when he catches her look. “And you’re right, it doesn’t wash out but at least I can scrape it off of leather.”

Darcy smirks, holding up the notebook. “The boss wants me to sketch the symbols on your back.”

“Oh. Sure.”

To her surprise, Steve gets to his feet and tugs his shirt completely off. “I meant I would just take...okay never mind. Shirtless is good.” Very good, her stupid brain tells her. “Okay wait, this is dumb.” Tugging out her cell, she holds it up, snapping a picture of Steve’s whole back.

“You should probably get close ups too.”

“Close ups?” she says stupidly. “Oh! Yeah, right.” She’d have to get close to a half naked Captain America now. Okay, she could do this. Maybe she should stretch first.

“Darcy?”

“What?”

“The pictures?”

“Oh! Yeah, right.” Darcy steps forward, raising her cell phone. She’s still a little too far away and Steve gives her an exasperated look, like she thinks his glorious bicep muscles are going to jump out and bite her.

Get your shit together, Darce. Reaching out a hand, she gently stretches the skin on his lower back and Steve flinches. “Sorry, are my hands cold?”

“No, uh, they’re warm. Quite warm.”

Darcy raises a brow but says nothing, holding up her phone to snap the next picture of a funny little squiggly line.

Before her very eyes, the symbols begin to change. “Steve.” Her voice comes out in a breath and Steve freezes. When she glances at him, she sees his teeth are clenched and she wonders how much this actually hurts. The symbols shift into completely different ones and suddenly Norbert thunders to his feet, a low noise coming from the back of his throat.

Jane comes out of the office at the noise. “What the hell – holy shit.”

The wings etched onto Steve’s back begin to move and flap, their scales glittering in the early morning sun and to her shock, Norbert’s own wings stretch out too, knocking her lamp off of the table. A wince of pain comes out of Darcy’s own mouth and when she looks down she sees markings on her wrist beginning to glow.

Jane hits the floor to avoid the tip of Norbert’s left wing, eyes still trained on the two of them as the amazing light stretches right out of the tattoos and begins to take shape in the air, a beautiful golden ray that takes flight and circles around the two of them before dancing lazily around Norbert’s head. Norbert flicks his tongue out to try to catch it, yelling out a happy warble when that light explodes into a thousand little tiny bits and sprinkles down upon them.

The three of them stare at each other, even after the lights had gone away.

“Okay, someone care to explain?”

Darcy yanked her hands away from Steve’s back like she had been burned. “Uh...faith, trust, and pixie dust?”

“Aroo,” Norbert warbles in agreement.

“Thank you, Norbie.”

Jane slowly climbed to her feet, brushing the now invisible dust from her shoulders. Steve pulls his shirt back on, fingers tracing his collarbone. “I think that was because of the wings...moving.” Steve winces, feeling a bit ridiculous but hey, there was a real dragon standing just five feet away. His life was a bit ridiculous.

But he honestly doubted he would change it for anything in the world.

“...and with you two bonded as tamer and rider –“

That gets his attention. “Wait, what?”

Jane’s giving Darcy a really hard stare and Darcy looks like she’d like to sink through the floor and disappear. “Jane, no.”

“Tell him,” Jane mouths before snatching Darcy’s phone and stomping from the room, muttering what Steve catches as, “...translations...stubborn interns...”

Steve waits until Jane has left the room before turning to Darcy. The lamps on the side tables rattle as Norbert lumbers out and through the kitchen to head out the back door, the young dragon bored already. “Darce...what aren’t you telling me?”

The brunette sighed, pushing her hair back from her face. “Okay, what just happened might have actually been part of the legend.”

“What?”

“The last actual pair of people that bonded with a dragon were a husband and wife. Mates. My ancestor Demetria, who is finally at peace, thank Thor, and her husband. They raised Malex, she bonded with her as a Tamer, and he bonded with her as a Rider.” She gestures helplessly at her own wrists. “Everyone else, all the others bonded alone as Rider and Tamer.”

Steve stares at her a bit dumbly for a moment before she sees the understanding seep into his face. His jaw slides open and his eyes widen, turning to look towards where Norbert had disappeared.

“Steve, please don’t think that means that we have too...you know. It doesn’t, it was just one hell of a coincidence.”

Steve gave her a sad smile. “Come on, Darcy. You know that’s not true.”

Darcy shakes her head, ignoring the burn of pain settling in her chest. “It’s not fate, or any of that romantic crap that people talk about. History isn’t allowed to tell our story, only we tell it.”

“Do you really believe that?”

Darcy manages what she hopes is a convincing smile. “I do.” She licks her lips. “Listen, you don’t have to be a part of this. You have a life, a very busy one and you were pulled into this mayhem rather abruptly and it’s not fair –“ she squeaks out a rather high pitched sound when Steve reaches over and gently covers her mouth with one finger. His touch sends a small jolt of electricity across her whole face and by the way his blue eyes widen, Darcy can tell Steve felt it too.

“D-Darcy –“

Of freaking course, before Steve can utter another word, Jane’s voice rings out.

“GET YOUR ASSES IN HERE!”

-;

The scientist gestures violently at the computer screen in front of her, the symbols that they had taken pictures of glittering back on the screen. A stream of curses comes out in what Darcy can only perceive as gobblygook and Darcy gently grabbed her shoulder. “Take a deep breath and start over.”

Jane does as she’s instructed, breathing in deeply through her nose. “Sorry. It’s not often that the answer to a mystery is staring me right in the face.”

“What do you mean?” Steve asks.

Darcy is already gazing at the screen. “Holy moly frijoles.”

“What?”

“It’s the call of the dragon,” Jane leans over, resting her elbows on her knees. “Demetria said that it was your duty to protect Norbert. Well she wasn’t lying.”

“That’s why she didn’t die until, well now. She literally couldn’t until I came along.”

“Wait...” Steve holds up a hand. “So the previous protector is trapped in life until the next one is born?”

Jane nods. “Everything on Darcy reads, ‘Live until death, live until the end, live until the way.’ And your tattoos say, ‘Go forth, do not fall. Life is only once, but it is long.’”

“Why does his rhyme but mine doesn’t?”

Darcy.”

“Sorry.”

“Basically it means that until you find a place where the dragons are going to be safe for all eternity, you two will not rest.”

Darcy scowls. “Well that’s BS. I’m going to go take a nap.”

“Darcy, you know that’s not what it means.”

The brunette turned around slowly. “I know. I was just hoping I could lighten the mood with my sunny personality.” Steve hid a smile. Darcy slaps her hands together, a determined look crossing her pretty face. “As cool as immortality sounds, I’m definitely not interested. So, I’m off to see the wizard. And by wizard, I mean Thor.”

Jane frowned. “And how exactly are you going to get him down here? He hasn’t been Earth side since he brought you your gear for Norbert.”

A delighted look settles in Darcy’s eyes. “I’m not going to do it. You are.” She turns on her heel and trots out of the room, leaving Jane and Steve staring bewilderedly at each other.

“When did she become the boss?” Jane wonders.

-;

Jane scowled at the sky, looking over her shoulder at Darcy. “Please don’t make me do this.”

Darcy smiled evilly. “Go on. The two of you made me listen to your bangditty bangditty in Mexico. This is how I get my sweet, sweet revenge.

With a long suffering sigh, Jane turned her face up to the sky and bellowed, “HEY HOT PANTS!”

Thunder rolls in with an alarmingly loud rumble. The clouds are darkening rapidly, moving and dancing along the sky before a jagged slice of lightening skates across. Steve grabs onto the porch railing to steady himself as the wind picks up to an impossible speed and then, the sky opens to reveal a long rainbow of brilliant light. There’s a blast of sound and when he looks up, Thor is standing in the center of that light with Mjolnir in his hands.

“Oh my fucking...”

“Milady –“ Thor’s already running towards Jane before he realizes he has the audience of a co-worker, a mouthy brunette, and a drooling dragon. Darcy cackles quietly as his face fills with heat and he drops the hammer to the ground, which sends another rocket of lightening up to the sky. “You told her?”

“She didn’t have too!” Darcy laughs. “I do have ears you know!”

Thor’s face flushed as red as his cape and Steve burst into laughter. “My apologies, Lightening Sister. I did not take note of the fact that –“

“What? That you and Jane are a wee bit too loud and call each other names that make my teeth hurt just saying them?”

Jane scowled and started walking menacingly towards the other brunette. “Demetria Lewis, I will seriously –“

Darcy’s own face went white at the name and she waves her hand. “Okay okay, I’ll stop now. Thor, buddy, we are in need of your assistance. I’m sorry for the dirty trick, we just needed you down here pronto.”

The god shrugged his shoulders, leaning down to scoop the hammer off of the ground. “No matter. What is this urgent matter you need my assistance for?”

They head inside, Norbert slobbering all over Thor’s hand as they do. To their surprise, the hammer slips out of Thor’s grip and into Norbert’s mouth and he happily trots off to lay down on his bed of grass to suck on the magical device. “My dragon is worthy?”

Thor chuckles. “Mjolnir likes Norbert.”

“That is true. Mew Mew is a bit fickle – hey!” Darcy whines as Jane gives her a shove inside the house.

“Okay sister, what is going on?” Thor turns to her, crossing his arms in front of his chest as he waits. “Is there something wrong with Norbert?”

Darcy quickly shakes her head. “No, not at all.” She glances at Steve, who dips his chin just slightly in confirmation. She then plows through everything, the huge barrel of information that gets even the god of thunder’s eyebrows to fly right up his forehead. “And then there’s these,” she adds, pulling up her sleeves and showing Thor the tattoos. “Steve, show him your back.”

The other man does as he’s told, tugging up the back of his teeshirt. Thor gazes at the inking, blue eyes wide, repeating exactly what Jane had translated not minutes before. “You’re bound to the dragon. The both of you.”

“They need a place to go after we find them all. And that place, we hope, is Asgard.”

Thor quickly agrees. “Asgard would welcome the dragons without question. But the thing is, I am not the one to lead them there. The dragons would have a leader, a...king –“

“Or queen,” Jane quickly interjects.

Thor flashes her a knowing smile. “Or queen, a ruler that would have to lead them there.”

“An alpha, you mean?”

“Yeah, I suppose so. If that’s what you call it.”

Darcy bites down hard on her thumbnail, forehead furrowed in thought. “Malex was the last alpha. There must be another one, especially if others beside Norbert have been born.”

“Then that’s what should happen. Find the alpha. He or she will have the power to enact control over the rest of the dragons and get them to follow to Asgard,” Thor claps his hands together and Mjolnir flies in through the open doorway. Norbert whines loudly from outside. “Apologies Sir Norbert!”

-;

“I called Erik.”

“Does he think we’re out of our minds?”

Jane chuckles. “Not at all actually. I think after what happened two years ago in New York opened him up to many more possibilities.”

“Aliens falling out of the sky is plausible but dragons aren’t, huh?”

“Something like that,” Jane peers into the open duffel bag on Darcy’s bed. “He’s flying out from Dublin tomorrow morning after helping the university wrap up one of their science division projects. He’s going back to Culver next week.”

Darcy stuffs another sweater into the duffel. “He must be anxious to get back home.”

“Yeah he is. I actually, uh, asked him, to, uh –“

“Spit it out, Janey.”

“I asked him to make a stop here before he headed back to Culver.”

Darcy peers at her friend, one eyebrow raised. “Why?”

Jane hesitates for a moment, her pretty face sliding into a frown. “I’m not going with you.” She holds up a hand when Darcy opens her mouth. “At least not yet. Captain America will be declared missing very soon and well, someone needs to be here to steer the Avengers in the right direction to finding him.”

Darcy’s eyes widened in surprise before she laughed. “You’re brilliant.”

Jane smirks, delighted. “Tell me something I don’t know.”

After putting on her sturdiest hiking boots, Darcy zipped up her bag. “Let’s get rocking.”

-;

After calling the electric company and having her power shut off for the next eight weeks, Darcy places her stuff on the back porch and goes into her garage to gather up Norbert’s riding gear. Thor helps her place the saddle on Norbert’s back, tightening the clasps around his neck. “Are you sure about this?”

“What do you mean, big guy?”

“This is going to be quite the journey, sister. Are you sure you’re ready for it? Demetria made her whole life about caring for the dragons and you seek to find the conclusion to this within a matter of weeks.”

Darcy’s hands tightened on Norbert’s shoulders. He made a noise, glancing at her with worry in his orange eyes and she pats his scales in reassurance. “Thor, if we don’t find safety for these guys, I’m doomed to stay alive forever.” Thor’s brows shot up his forehead. “You didn’t know that?”

Her friend hesitated before admitting. “I did. I didn’t realize you knew it.”

A sigh slipped from her throat and she leans her chin against the saddle. “It was awful, Thor. Watching Demetria just fade away like that.” Thor reaches over and takes her hand. A surprising burn rises behind her eyes. “I don’t – I don’t want that to happen to me.”

“It won’t,” Thor reassures her with a soft gaze. “I promise you, sister. I will not let that happen to you. I swear it on the old gods that Demetria’s life will not be your future.”

“Aren’t you one of the old gods?”

Thor chuckles. “Technically no. But one day. Eventually.”

Darcy tries to ignore the far away look that shadows his face. “Thanks big guy.”

Thor returns the smile she gives him with one more squeeze of her hand. The backdoor slaps open to reveal Jane carrying two small devices in her hands. “Shit, where’s Rogers?”

Her answer is the loud roar of a motorcycle. Darcy’s jaw slides open when she spies the enormous beast, carrying the captain, trailing up her driveway. “Holy shit.”

Steve drives the bike into her garage, coming out a moment later with a large duffel like her own slung over his shoulder. “Are we ready?”

“Not quite yet,” Jane hands the two of them what looks to be small walkie-talkies. “These are GPS devices that you can stick onto your boot heels. They will track every step that you make and it sends a signal to my cell phone and my computer.”

Darcy inspects the small black box. “Uh, thanks? What are these for – hey!” Jane straightens up, brushing her fingers across a third device that she had just stuck to the lower back of Norbert’s front left leg. “What was that for?”

“So I know that you three are alive,” Jane answers so bluntly that Darcy falls silent. Steve places the GPS onto his belt and Darcy attaches hers to the top of her boot. “They don’t go off unless something happens.”

“Well that’s encouraging.” Steve throws Darcy a dirty look. “What?”

“How much time did you request off?” Thor asks Steve.

“One month. Maria thought I was joking.”

“I bet,” Jane agrees with a chuckle. “You said your last vacation was only accepted because Helen ordered it.”

Aroo?” Steve scratches the top of Norbert’s head and Darcy just manages to avoid her foot being stomped on as he begins to kick like a dog.

Darcy laid her hand back on the back of Norbert’s shoulders. “Are we ready?”

Steve nods. “Yeah, I suppose so.”

“All right Norbie, do your thing.”

As her fingers gently press into his scales, his skin begins to heat up and glow. Steve’s eyes widen in surprise. “How the hell -?”

Darcy beams and nods at him to do the same as she does. Steve places his hands on Norbert’s hips and exclaims a pretty cute noise when the scales do the same. Jane and Thor follow suit and pretty soon, Darcy feels like she has her hands resting on the embers of a fire. “When did he start --?”

“When the weather began to change,” Jane explains. “His scales heat on their own but Darcy’s touch and it seems ours as well helps hurry along the process. Pretty handy so you two don’t turn into popsicles.”

Norbert’s shoulders give a shake and he exclaims in excitement, his large butt and tail starting to flick back and forth. “After you, milady,” Steve smiles.

Darcy curtsies and climbs up, her duffel tucked behind her and Steve does the same. She knows that normally Steve would have gotten behind her as a sign of respect but with everything that they now know, it was best he was in front and taking the lead. Just like always.

“Remember, do not take those GPSs off!” Jane shouts as Norbert starts to spread his wings and inch off of the ground. “I will come after you myself if you do!”

Darcy waves. “And I don’t doubt it, Janey! Bye!” She can hear Thor’s laughter over the roar of the wind, and Jane’s still shaking her fist as they begin to rise higher and higher into the sky. There’s a slice of pain at her wrist and when she looks down, she sees the black ink spreading lazily over her skin once again. “Your back?”

Steve dips his head, his voice getting lost in the wind. Norbert dips to the side, heading straight for the sun and it seems like they are going to fly right into it.

But that doesn’t happen. Darcy’s arms tighten around Steve’s waist and she watches around the crook of his shoulder as he expertly eases Norbert left and right, up and down through the clouds.

They continue to fly higher, right above the dipping sun, on and on, until the light takes them in.

One heck of a journey awaits.

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Chapter Text

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They fly for twelve hours.

Darcy dozes with her face pressed into Steve’s back, her arms wrapped tightly around his waist so she doesn’t slump to the right. Only the sudden descent makes her wake up. “Wh-where –“ A yawn cracks her jaw. “ – where are we?”

“To be honest, I haven’t the faintest.”

“Make sure we land near water,” Darcy bellows in his ear. “So Nobert can fish.”

The sun is beginning to rise in the sky, a few greyish clouds still dotting the lightening indigo blue. Norbert’s body twists and suddenly, they are heading a little too quickly towards the ground. As they ease down, Norbert warbles out a call and Steve’s hands grab on tightly to the reins and Darcy grabs on tightly to Steve.

“Here we go!” Norbert’s wings stretch out to the furthest length and Steve laughs. Darcy just feels squeamish and she’s pretty sure she’s gonna barf as soon as they hit land. When they actually do, none too gracefully, she slides right off Norbert’s back and onto the ground, one hand resting on Norbert’s hindquarters to keep herself steady.

She glances up at the good captain through her hair. “You enjoyed that too much.”

Steve chuckles. “I’m liking this Rider status, I’m not gonna lie.”

Darcy digs inside her jacket where she had strapped her cell phone and her Ipod. There was no way she was leaving her tunes behind on this trip. “I’m gonna try to figure out where we are.” It doesn’t take her long to find the body of water for Norbert, whistling at her big green cat, who bounds off through the trees. Her answer is a resounding splash followed by a dragon laugh of glee. “Well at least someone’s happy.”

Plopping her earbuds into her ears, Darcy trots off. Her cell phone doesn’t have the best signal, and the GPS is weak, only giving her a glitchy map that tells her that there is a road a few miles away. They should be secure enough at least for the time being.

When she gets back to where she left Steve, there’s a tent up with a small pile of firewood beside it, but no captain. “Steve?”

Steve crawls out of the tent when she calls, and Darcy fights back a chuckle. She never in her wildest dreams thought she’d be witnessing Captain America crawling out of a tent on his hands and knees, let alone be on a dragon road trip with him. “What did you find?”

“There’s a road about six miles north. Norbert’s still having his dinner and probably won’t turn up for a least an hour.”

“Do we have any idea why he landed us here?” Steve asks her.

“Not a clue. But I’m sure we will find out soon.”

-;

They find out that next morning.

Norbert kicks her right off of the makeshift bed at ass o’clock, insistently butting his head against her shoulders and licking her chin. “Dang it Norb, it’s too early!”

Aroo, aroo!”

Darcy sits up, wiping at her sticky chin. “Come on, dude. It’s your day off. Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

“Aroo!” That one is more urgent and that’s when Darcy realizes the boy means business.

“Okay okay, I’m coming.”

After wrapping herself up in her flannel jacket, Darcy manages to tiptoe out of the tent and step over a still asleep Steve by the fire pit and to her surprise, he doesn’t stir. Of course, the guy wakes with the birds but stick him in the middle of the woods and he sleeps like a log.

Norbert leans his head down and she clampers onto his back, rubbing at her eyes with one hand. “This better be good – whooaa!” His wings puffed out at their greatest length, Norbert takes to the air and nearly sends her flying back through it. Her yell wakes Steve and when she looks down, she sees him standing by the firepit. “Be back in a few minutes!”

He waves and she turns back in time to see what looks to be a dozen black specks coming at her in the early morning sun. “What the frickety frack – holy shit, are those geese?”

Quack quack quack!”

“They’re geese! Norbert!” Her stupid dragon will not fly any lower or any higher, no matter what she bellows in his stubborn ears. The geese are getting closer and closer, a little too quickly. “Norbert, I swear on Thor’s mighty hammer –“ Norbert dives and she shrieks, the geese’s feet and wings just skimming the top of her head. A few drops of what she is pretty sure is geese shit land on her shoulders and back. “Norbert, I will get you for this.”

“Aroo!”

Darcy scowls, leaning down to press her face against his neck, eager to avoid any more mid air surprises. Norbert continues to descend towards the ground and Darcy keeps her face plastered to his neck because evil branches are skating her sides and ow! There goes a chunk of her hair.

They land none too gently and Darcy throws herself from Norbert’s back. “Land!” Norbert warbles and she lifts a hand to throw him the bird. “When we get home, you’re so grounded.”

Her dragon opens his jaws and for one brief moment, Darcy finds a flicker of fear in her chest, especially with the fact that his mouth is wrapping around her upper arm. But then, his teeth just snag onto her sleeve and he starts to walk, dragging her along. “Dude, where are we going – oh.”

-;

Steve barely has time to react when Norbert swoops overhead and literally drops Darcy right on top of him. He angles his body so he takes the hit and Darcy lands softly on his chest, her face just inches from his, blue eyes blinking in surprise from the sudden fall.

“Eggs. Dragon eggs.”

“What?”

“Well actually, one egg. One big ass egg! And it’s glowing.”

“Darcy - oof!” She slaps his chest. “What -?”

“Egg Steve!”

The ride back is quick, within a blink of an eye, and Norbert is coasting down through the trees, his feet hitting the ground and bowing down to lightly toss the two of them off of his back. Darcy sways where she stands, grabbing his arm to steady herself. “You okay?”

“Is there such a thing as being dragon-sick?” she asks. “You know, like sea sickness and air sickness?”

“Well, now there is.”

“Aroo!”

“Coming Norbert!”

After regaining her bearings and making sure she’s not going to upchuck all over Steve’s shoes, Darcy takes the lead. They travel almost three hundred yards into a heavily wooded area, and as they walk, the air around them begins to darken. “This is what happened before. Just wait.”

Before Steve can utter another word in question, he spots it.

The egg is large, standing nearly as tall as Darcy, practically as tall as Norbert when he’s on all fours. “What the actual hell...”

“Shh!” Darcy gestures towards the egg. “You’ll disturb them.”

Steve gaped in confusion. “I will disturb – oh okay.” The egg starts to vibrate. Just a bit, if they weren’t standing so close, he doubts he would have noticed it right away.

As they stand there, a warm glow starts to rise up from the bottom of the egg. Norbert bares his teeth, ears flattened against his head. Darcy places her hand on his snout for a second, fingertips gently pressing against his scaly skin before pulling away and very slowly approaching the egg. Her blood is already singing and by Steve’s sharp gasp behind her, she can tell he feels it too. Glancing down, Darcy sees that her tattoos are moving and sliding across her skin.

Norbert’s growl shifts in his throat, deepening into what feels like a song or a...lullaby. Darcy’s fingers stroke along the side of the egg, the heat against her skin practically soothing.

The cracking sound rips through the air, disturbing the birds above their heads. Darcy leaps backwards and for some reason, kind of jumps into Steve’s arms. He catches her without hesitation, lifting her up bridal style. Another crack settles up the side of the egg, a few puffs of steam emitting from the seams. “It’s alive.”

Norbert growls and Darcy shushes him, noticing then that she is pretty much being carried by Captain America. “Uh, you can put me down now.” Awww, even Steve’s ears flush red when he blushes. Her thoughts of cuteness quickly fade away when he drops her so suddenly that she falls on her ass into a pile of leaves.

Shit, I am so sorry!” He tugs her back to her feet, his entire face tomato red. “Are you hurt?”

“Just my pride –“ she starts but the final crack of the egg distracts all three of them. Darcy turns around to watch as the egg starts to split, a large piece falling from the top. “Hey, step back.”

“What?”

Aroo?”

Darcy nods, waving a hand while not taking her eyes off of the egg. “Really, I mean it. Get back.”

At the tone in her voice, Steve obeys and Norbert follows his step. Darcy eases back a bit too, the egg beginning to crumble into a thousand little bits right in front of her, revealing a jelly base and one yellow and blue dragon about the size of a cat sitting in the center.

Steve cocks his head. “Not what I was expecting.” The dragon doesn’t look a thing like Norbert, sitting there on its little butt with a round stomach and an elongated neck that stretches up only a few inches. It has wings on its back, small ones that seem to belong to a bumblebee rather than a fearsome fire breathing creature.

“Me neither.” Darcy eases down to her knees, not daring to touch the little guy just yet. As soon as she settles on the ground, the dragon sniffles just like Norbert did when she first came across him. “Oh shit. Get down!” Steve hits the ground as the dragon sneezes, a jet of fire shooting from his little nose. Norbert dives to the right so he is standing between them, and his wings spread out to cover them. Luckily, the stream of heat isn’t very strong and disappears into steam before it gets not even twelve inches.

Darcy gasps, looking up to meet Norbert’s eyes. He shifts his head, making a cooing noise and she nods, stroking his chin. “Thanks dude.”

Steve climbs to his feet, patting Norbert’s shoulder before going to kneel in front of the hiccupping baby. “You’re causing trouble already and you’re not even an hour old.” The baby makes a chicking sound, almost like a typewriter. “Is he, uh, safe to touch?”

Before Darcy can open her mouth to answer, the little dragon leaps from the remains of the egg and spreads its tiny wings. The tiny creature gets about six inches off of the ground before a horrified look crosses it’s blue face and it drops like a stone. Steve’s hands snap out and catch it before it hits the ground and the baby coos with relief. Darcy remains kneeling, one arm resting on her knee. “If you don’t burst out in bright pink boils within the next hour, I would say so.”

“Okay – wait boils? What do you mean, boils? Darcy? Darcy!”

-;

Needless to say, Steve does not break out in boils.

The dragon is a little boy from what Darcy can gander. “No, he doesn’t have a dragon ding-dong. Look!” She gestures at the rings of color around the dragon’s midsection.

“What am I looking at?”

Darcy scowls in annoyance and turns to Norbert. Norbert groans when she shoves him over onto his side and points at the same rings of color lapped around his own stomach, albeit more faded. “That means he’s a boy. The girls don’t have that.” She gasps slightly, rubbing a hand over her forehead.

“What’s the matter?”

“I think I just had a small stroke.” Steve’s eyebrows raised. “I’m starting to sound like Jane does when she gets all excited about the stars.” He starts to laugh and Darcy shoves at his chest, causing him to fall on his ass in the dirt. “It’s not funny!” Norbert warbles, mirroring Steve’s motions and Darcy groans. “I’m surrounded by idiots.”

She missed Jane more than ever right now. And Erik. They would both know what to do. They were natural leaders and all of this, this journey to find the dragons and get them to Asgard would come so easy to them. But now...now...She wasn’t a leader. Darcy was a kickass follower and mender of broken doodads that her favorite geniuses would make go kaboom. She wasn’t a dragon tamer or mistress or whatever the fuck the legend calls it.

A hand reaches out and covers hers, making Darcy come out of her thoughts a little too abruptly. “You all right?” Steve’s looking at her through his lashes with that stupid golden retriever face that she’s starting to like a little bit too much.

With a sigh, Darcy slides back on her butt in the dirt and rests her hands behind her. “A little overwhelmed, to be honest.”

Steve settles beside her, mimicking her pose. “Can I ask why?”

“Do you really want to hear it? Because the story is long and boring.” He gives her another one of those goofy smiles and that’s enough for her. Darcy does try to keep it short, she’s not giving a lecture to some student, but apparently it’s long enough that Norbert gets up and wanders off towards the water. “Sorry, I really didn’t mean to prattle on like that. I have a condition of the mouth where I cannot seem to get it to stop moving and well –“

Steve takes her hand again and again, that mere movement seems to have the power to shut her right up. “You’re fine, Darce. Please don’t...don’t ever think you’re a bad leader, okay? Because you’re not. You’re different from Dr. Foster and Dr. Selvig, sure, but that’s good. You’re feisty and protective, you are mad about that dragon over there –“ he juts his thumb towards where Norbert had disappeared. “And all you care about is that these guys have a safe place to go. That makes a leader. That makes a great protector.”

Darcy tries her best to ignore the swoop of butterflies in her stomach and hitches a smile on. “Darcy Lewis, Dragon Princess?”

Steve gets back to his feet and tugs her with him. “I wouldn’t say that ‘princess’. How about warrior?”

She beams like a five year old that had just gotten their first bike on Christmas morning. “I’ll drink to that.”

-;

The baby dragon lights two bushes on fire after a couple more sneezes and Darcy has the sudden urge to listen to some Fall Out Boy on her Ipod. “Light ‘em up, light ‘em up, I’m on fiiireee!” she sings as she puts out the second fire with water she had collected from Norbert’s swimming hole.

“Is that really appropriate for a baby dragon?” Steve asks her, an amused smirk on his face. “Might egg him on a little bit.”

“All right, what do you suggest singing to the rugrat? Thirties ballads?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “Haha. Needless to say, I am a bit well versed in today’s music.”

“If you like that techno bop crap that they try to call music, I will seriously punch you in the boob.”

He laughs out loud. “No, none of that, smartass.”

“Then what?” She bows low in  what she hopes is a convincing curtsy. “Do tell me, oh great one.”

He flips her the bird. “Queen is fucking awesome, okay?” All righty, he’s got one point in the good column. “I’m partial to Green Day, and the Doors. There’s a lot of off handed songs I catch on the radio that I like too but Queen is right up there.”

“Prove it, big boy. Sing one of their songs all the way through. And ‘We Will Rock You’ does not count. Everybody and their brother knows that one.”

Norbert warbles from his spot near the new little guy, his watchful eyes trained on them.

“All right. Challenge accepted, warrior princess,” he bows low to her and Darcy shoves at his shoulder. With a clearing of the throat, he perfectly rattles off ‘Radio Gaga’ from start to finish.

When he’s done, Darcy pulls her jaw off of the ground. “Yeah that was...fair – whoa!” Steve takes that moment to tackle her to the ground, accidentally smashing one of her boobs in the process. She laughs anyway. “Hey! Hey! Uncle! I call uncle!” Steve pulls himself off of her, his face bright red. “I just thought of a name for the shorty.”

Freddie,” they say at the same time.

The little dragon pops his head off of the ground, looking towards them with wide blue eyes. Then, to surprise of them and Norbert, he raises himself up onto his feet and flaps his tiny wings so hard that he begins hover about six inches off of the ground. 

“I think he likes it.”

Norbert lifts a large paw and pushes Freddie back to the ground.

-;

Freddie can fly on the sixth day and then they are off again. Norbert seems to know where he is going so Darcy occupies herself with keeping an eye on Freddie as they coast through the sky. They obviously don’t travel for very long because when they begin to fly at breakfast, the sun isn’t even at it’s highest point in the sky when Norbert and Freddie take sudden swoops downward.

“Holy -!” Darcy glomps onto Steve so hard around the waist that he grunts from the immediate lack of air. “Where are they going?!”

“I have no idea!”

Down, down, down they go, and thank Thor this time it wasn’t in a heavily wooded area. Then Norbert spreads his wings back out and comes to a halt about three feet above the ground, hovering in the air. Freddie tries to do the same and ends up sliding out of the air and to the grassy ground with a plomp.

Darcy’s eyes scan around, squinting in the heavy midday sun. There isn’t a soul around, and it’s eerily quiet. The grassy plains go on for what seems like miles and miles, stretching up a pretty jagged hill and disappearing into an array of silver clouds.

“Steve...Steve!”

“What?”

“I think we’re in Skye.”

Freddie takes flight again, a squeaking noise coming out of his pretty adorable face. His tiny wings sounding the propellers on a helicopter and he zips off past Norbert’s left ear and then to Darcy’s great surprise, goes headfirst into the soft ground. “Holy shit.”

“What...just happened?”

“Freddie’s a ground dragon.”

“A ground dragon?” Steve repeats.

Darcy nods, her forehead pressed into his back. “They come up to lay their eggs, and the eggs expand with oxygen, which is why his was so fricking huge. And then when they are born, they go back to the Earth. What?” Steve’s giving her a look over his shoulder, a look that she recognizes having been on her own face whenever Jane went off on a science binge.

He smiles fondly. “Nothing.”

She thumps her head between his shoulder blades, feeling like she was banging her head against a brick wall. “I know. I know. I am such a dragon nerd.”

Freddie’s little head pops up, his yapping signaling for them to come closer. Norbert trails slowly through the air, and then lets himself come down onto the mushy ground. Darcy thanks the stars that she wore sturdy boots because as soon as she gets off of Norbert’s back she immediately starts to sink into the mush and muck. “Nope, not happening. Norbert!” Steve hadn’t gotten off yet and grabs her arm, pulling her back up. Norbert gives his heavy paws a yank and spreads his wings, letting himself hover in the air again.

They watch as Freddie zips out of the ground again, and he’s followed by four more dragons, all slightly bigger than he is. Steve gasps out a laugh at the sight. Freddie coasts up into the cool air, his little family following. “Are we supposed to -?”

“I think so.” Steve pats Norbert’s shoulder, and the mighty dragon gives a huff of annoyance, his thunder obviously stolen by the five little ones. They’re off again, the ground dragons ahead of them like little specks of color in the sky, off to a new world that is quite unknown.

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(Welcome Freddie!)