AN:Next chapter. I don't know if this is very well settled yet, but it will be soon. Every new story is hard to get going. A special thanks to all those who pointed out the Eragon-esque qualities in this story. This is the product of not enough sleep, way too much caffine and a marathong of all things marvel, the Eragon movies and Tumblr. There's a little something extra in here for you guys.
Pepper helped Tony finish cleaning the mark on his chest, which still bled sluggishly afterward so, with careful and, she thought bitterly, practiced hands, she helped him wrap gauze around his chest, mindful of the new reactor. All the while as they did this, the little creature slept on at Tony's ankle, occasionally trilling and turning over.
When Tony was cleaned up they rose from the bathroom floor and Pepper watched with amused and frustrated exasperation as Tony crouched down and scooped the tiny creature up in his arms again. Of course he wasn't going to let the hatchling, dragon or otherwise, out of his sight. It was, to him, a puzzle that he had to solve and Pepper, for all her worrying, would be by his side. The hatchling awoke when Tony picked it up, blinking brilliant mercury eyes, now the color of Tony's own eyes, shot through with that same myriad of stunning colors.
And Pepper stopped, staring at both the inventor and hatchling with startled understanding.
She herself loved to read, and devoured books of all genres, but none more-so than fantasy books. She'd always been drawn to their vivid back stories and intricate through-lines. Her favorite had been, thus far, the Inheritance Cycle, the story of a poor farm boy, bonded to a dragon. And while nothing so dramatic had happened to Eragon's appearance had at first occurred as had happened to Tony, Pepper couldn't help but drawn the parallels.
She mentioned it to Tony shorty after they had arrived in the kitchen and Tony paused before looking down at the hatchling in his arms. The little creature, and Tony decided firmly in that moment that, indeed, it looked like a dragon and that he would call it that, stared back at him with eerily intelligent eyes and Tony felt a brush of possession, marked by a slash of cedar though the light blue haze that he's, unconsciously, gotten used to already.
Tony was, in his own way, fascinated by the way the dragonling could, at less than two hours old, already communicate so easily with him, without words, and Tony wondered if he could do the same. He reached into his head and pulled on the most neutral feeling he could find, his own curiosity and puzzlement at the situation, tinged a light blue only a few shades darker than the Arc Reactor and imagined pushing it at the dragonling.
There was a moment of silence before there was a sharp sound in his head, not unlike a cry of surprised joy and it took Tony a minute to realize that Pepper hadn't heard it and was instead staring at Tony with patience. It had been in his head. Tony looked at the dragonling again and then wandered over to the island, setting it down and taking a stool for himself. Pepper decided to leave him to it and set down a bottle of water, a cup of coffee and a stuffed sandwich for him before leaving him to go and clean the bathroom.
Tony drank his coffee and stared at the dragonling who stared back. He'd tried pushing more feelings at the hatchling and had only been semi-successful. He quickly discovered that feelings he made up were quickly discarded by the hatchling, and that it couldn't really be lied too, because it was entwined with him now.
He wondered if he could send words like he could emotions and very carefully, he formed a thought and pushed it gently at the hatchling. "Can you understand me?"There was a moment of unsure sience before a tendril tickled his temple.
"T-tony?"The voice was soft and child-like, trilling and, Tony was shocked to realize, with the barest hint of an accent, one that he couldn't readily place. He was only silent for a moment before he smiled and received a flash of bright yellow affection in return. Tony felt himself smiling a little in return, not even really realizing it.
A grumble from his stomach, echoed by a smaller, but no less urgent grumbling from the hatchling, pulled their attention away from the exchange and Tony grinned impishly. He pulled over the sandwich Pepper had left and took off the top piece of bread and the lettuce. It was thick-cut turkey, mostly likely fresh from the deli that week and Tony dragged out two of the thicker slices before tearing them apart with his fingers and holding one bit out to the hatchling.
The dragonling took the hunk of turkey from his fingers with enthusiasm and Tony couldn't help but smile as he sat back, content to join the hatchling in eating for the time being.
The hatchling just kind of...wormed its way into Tony and Pepper's daily lives. It didn't have a name and neither of them knew whether or not if was a boy or girl even. But it didn't seem to bother the dragonling much at all when Tony would shout "Get down from there scales!" instead of being addressed by a name.
Tony spent a day on the internet, using Jarvis to comb for all the myths and legends of dragons and Tony was fascinated to find out which ones held true and which were quickly proven false. The little dragonling loved shiny things and, more often than not when it accompanied him to the lab, the hatchling would try and make off with some small tool or another. Eventually Tony gave up trying to get the tools back and instead would craft tiny figurines out of leftover metals he had lying around and the hatchling would trill in sheer happiness before flutter-hopping away to the corner of the couch it claimed for itself.
It was not a strict meat-eater and Tony was only too amused the first time she stole asparagus off of Pepper's plate one day, gulping it down before Pepper could even open her mouth to protest. It grew exponentially and, before they realized it, the hatchling that had once fit in the palm of his hands was not the size of small dog and had all the energy of a dozen small children. Of course, this is when Tony was glad the Malibu mansion had such an open floor plan, which gave the little hatchling plenty of room to run and jump around without really worrying about breaking anything.
For now, anyway.
The hatchling was named by accident, much to Pepper's endless amusement. Tony had spent nights nose to nose with the dragonling, who perched on his desk, tossing names around. Each had been reproached with a flash of rejection. Pepper had pointed out that the names he'd been suggesting had all been male names, and that he might try some female ones.
These were met with less absolute rejection and more thoughtful disagreement from the dragonling. Now confident that the hatchling was a female, he began again a foray to name the hatchling. At last, Tony would give up for the day and find something else to entertain him. The night it happened, Tony was underneath one of his many cars, the dragonling sat on his stomach and a tool jammed between his teeth. Pepper had come down to remind him of his schedule the following day.
"And don't forget, you have a meeting with the law firm in the morning to get the patents settled up." Tony pulled himself slightly out from underneath the car, face scrunched in confusion and distaste. He hated lawyers.
"Lee a' got'?" he asked, words muffled by the tool and Pepper took it to meant "Scree and Groff" the senior patent lawyers on the Arc Energy project. But before Pepper could respond in the affirmative, the hatchling squeaked loudly and began to jump up and down on Tony's stomach. Tony spit the tool out and his arms shot out to wrap around the dragonling, before he came up to sit with her against his chest.
"What what?" He asked. Pepper watched with amazement as they had another one of their silent conversations and then Tony was sounding something out, which sounded like a name, over and over again until at last he said "Liagoth" and the hatchling squeaked again, coming up to nip his chin and nose in that affectionate way she had.
Tony sat back looking pleased with himself and stroked his hands down the dragonling's, now named Liagoth, back, smearing grease over her deep blue scales. He rose up and stared at them both before looking at Pepper, in her clean dress and then gently set Liagoth down. Both inventor and dragon stalked forward and Pepper realized what they meant to do.
"Anthony Edward Stark if you get grease on this dress I will-!" She was cut off as, as one, they surged forward. Liagoth curled through her legs, painting grease on her stockings and Tony grabbed her in a hug, laughing as he brushed kisses all over her face, no doubt getting that covered in grease as well. She shouted at him the whole time, barely containing her laughter as she smacked him gently with the clipboard, demanding he let her go.
When he did, both he and Liagoth moved away and Pepper looked down at herself. She was, indeed, covered in grease now where Tony and Liagoth had touched her. She sighed but smiled because both inventor and dragonling looked so pleased with themselves that she didn't have the heart to scold them. She glanced at her watch, and noted it was later in the evening. So she reached over and grabbed his hand.
"Come on. We're both going to shower and then relax for a while. You've been at it for days." Tony, for once against his usual habit, just nodded and smiled that blissed out happy smile he only got around her and, recently, around Liagoth, gave instructions for Jarvis to lock down the lab and followed her up to the master suite.
Tony didn't take baths anymore. Not since he'd returned from Afghanistan, and Pepper never questioned why, at least out loud to Tony, only helped him find a company to replace all the baths with massive walk in showers. Liagoth climbed in with them, as she had since day one, and lay in the basin behind Tony, trilling and squeaking in content as the water dripped over her from the head above. Pepper took a minute when she was washing his chest to stop and marvel in the trust he had in her. First with the Arc Reactor and now with this, the new mark that adorned his chest. He shivered when she ran gently fingers over it. It was scaly to the touch, but soft and supple. He made a sound when she pressed on it and she removed her fingers with a mental note to herself. It was, also, apparently, very sensitive to touch.
The shower finished quickly after that and they dressed in loose clothes before making their way to the living room and all three of them collapsing on the couch in one, comfortable, heap.
A month later and Tony was more than impressed by Liagoth. She continued to grow and was, at that moment, the size of a very large dog. She still loved cuddling with Tony and hanging out in the labs but Tony was growing worried. Surely a creature so large, and on that was undoubtedly meant to fly no less, could not be comfortable in the mansion.
He was leaning on the counter in the kitchen thinking of what he could do with the Iron Man suit when it happened.
Liagoth came bounding in, warbling and trilling with happiness when her forepaws scrabble don the freshly done linoleum and she ran headlong into Tony. There was a moment of distortion, bright light and loud sound, and Tony waited until the world stopped spinning before and went quiet before he leaned over and emptied his stomach onto the ground.
Ground? He'd been in his kitchen just a few seconds ago. Where was he now? He staggered to his feet, wiping his mouth off on his sleeve and looked around him. "Shit. Definitely not my kitchen anymore." He sighed. Wherever they were, it was night and Tony was standing in middle of some kind of field of tall grass, which was coarse to the touch. He sighed and turned to Liagoth. But before he can ask if she even knows what happened, and he knows she'll respond in that way of her's, with colors and emotions and picture but not words, never words unless it's his name, there's a sound to his left.
Tony turns around to investigate and freezes.
From the long grass comes a great shape, taller and longer then a bus, emerald green with terrifying amber eyes and beside it a man of impossible height and ice blue skin.
And the creature snarls.