Author: Kat Lee
Challenge/Prompt: puzzleprompts March Challenge More info here:
[Spoiler (click to open)]
Power Hour: Flight
Creature Feature: Dragon
What’s My Line?: Lost Boy
Adulting Sucks!: Juggling work and personal life
The Classified Section: Guardian
Sports and Recc: Dancing
Mother Nature: Full Sun
Cosmic Constant: Time
Geology Rocks: Tunnels
Random Object: Vehicle (Space Ship)
Random Descriptor: Clean
Word Count: 2,096
Date Written: 25 March 2017
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to Marvel Comics and Disney, not the author, and are used without permission.
The little dragon's talons clatter on the metallic floor of his spaceship as he waits impatiently for the hatch to open. He dances to and fro, his small, purple wings beating, and as soon as the hatch has lowered enough that he can escape, he flies out into the golden and pink tinged light of the alien sun. The sun on his leathery scales feels wonderful, like the caress of a long lost friend, and Lockheed zooms through the gently humid air for quite a few hours before finally coming to rest in the boughs of an upside down tree. To a human, the branches he's resting in would appear to be more like roots, but that's the way the trees grow on this planet.
He surveys the small planet's surface with a big grin on his face. He's always loved Spring time, and this planet resembles his own home world so greatly. Except, he recalls with a flap of his wings, that Earth was never actually his home world. His home planet was destroyed long ago by the very people who had become a second family to him.
It was never supposed to go on for as long as it had, he reflects, cleaning a wing and checking on the status of his most recent bullet wound. He had been alone, uncertain, and still just a rookie when he had awakened to find himself on Earth. At that time, he had thought none of his own people had survived, and he had been uncertain as to how far he could trust the X-Men. They may have good intentions, but they had still destroyed his home after all.
But then Kitty had found him in the tunnels beneath the mansion. He sighs just thinking of her. That wide-eyed kid had been as nervous and unsure of herself as he had been of himself, but the Earthlings grow at a different rate than any other race in the universe. The rest of the races he's encountered either mature more quickly or even more gradually and have a life span that either at least triples that of a human or is nowhere near as long. He'd watched that nervous child blossom into a beautiful, deadly woman who can handle herself in almost any battle scenario -- which was exactly, he reminds himself despite the pain in his heart, why it was time for him to leave her.
It wasn't easy lying to her, but by the time he'd realized that he could trust her not only with his life but with his heart, he had her too convinced that he was nothing more than an extraordinary pet. He had thought many times of telling her the truth, but when that Wisdom bloke had come along and he'd spoken to him, warning him away from his Kitty, Kitty's strong disbelief that he could talk had told him how hurt she'd be if he revealed his true self. He had stayed hidden a few years more, not wanting to hurt her, until his people had resurfaced and come looking for him.
He still hadn't meant to leave her when he had, and if his own race had given him a choice, he'd probably still be there on Earth, pretending to be her pet and loving her more than any pet could ever love its mistress. If they'd both been dragons, they could have settled down happily, but a human and one of his kind just did not mate. It was unheard of -- not to mention, a near impossibility with the way their bodies were made!
He sighs, his tail flicking, and lowers his head a little. He's heard she's back in outer space now and has thought of looking her up, but how does one go about mending a friendship as damaged as theirs? He never meant to hurt, but he had hurt her. She couldn't understand why he'd chosen to speak to Wisdom and not her any more than she could understand why he'd kept his true self hidden for so many, long years. There were so many times, he thinks back, that he could have comforted her with more than licks, hugs, and purrs. He could have spoken to her. He should have spoken to her, but it's far too late now. She'll only ever see him as the little dragon who lied to her for what she mistakenly thought was most of his life.
And besides, he's far too busy to be dashing off after damsels, even his beloved Kitty. He has been called upon by his people to represent them in interactions with other worlds, and when he isn't playing diplomat, he's still guarding the entire universe against various threats. The X-Men were always saving their own world when he was with them. He helped save the day a few times, but now, as an operative of SHIELD, he doesn't just save one world. He saves the entire freaking universe multiple times a week, sometimes even twice before breakfast!
Lockheed sighs, his wings shuffling. It just won't do, he decides. Even if he could manage to take a vacation, he could never return to Kitty. He can't be her pet again, and she's busy too. She doesn't need a pet, doesn't need him as her friend. After all, communication works both ways. She knows he's with SHIELD. She could contact him as easily as he could her, but she won't. Because, he reminds himself forcibly, she simply doesn't need him. She's learned to live without him, and although she might miss him, she doesn't need him or even really want him any more. If she did, she would have contacted him by now.
Lockheed releases the growl he feels building up inside his purple chest. There are no life forms here to hear him and go scampering in the other direction. This entire planet is made up of vegetation only, which means also that he's free to fly wherever he wants here. He swoops toward the sun, feeling its full heat at what the Earthlings would consider high noon here on his scales. He sighs. The sun makes his old scales feel so good, almost like new again!
But he's not like new. He'll never be that same, naive dragon he was when Kitty first found him in the tunnels, or when they first met on his home world so many years ago. Time passes differently for every one. Lockheed tries not to think about it, but he knows many Earth years have passed since that time. He's an old dragon now, and as an old dragon, he has responsibilities to fulfill, responsibilities that can not be fulfilled if he returns to Earth with the girl and he knows Kitty's heart belongs on Earth. They say she's chasing some Starlord around the universe right now, but soon enough, she'll grow tired of the stars and want to go back home. Even if he was with her now, he could not go with her then.
It's easier, he tells himself, this way. This way, he doesn't have to explain himself or try to be something he is not and can never truly pretend to be again. This way, he's free to be the guardian his people, and others, need. This way, and only this way, he is his own dragon again. If he goes back with Kitty, she'll expect to be in charge again. She still looks him as her pet. She always will, and it's not even her fault. If he'd made his true mind known when they'd been together before, she might be able to look at him as something, some one, more now, but he never did. She can't be expected to change what she thinks of him now after all these years together.
It's a messy affair, he thinks, opening his eyes, but then, humans are always messy. This planet is clean, as of yet untouched by most civilization. There is no trash here, no footprints, nothing to mark the passing of those few visitors who have come and gone from this planet's surface. But had humans been here, Lockheed knows, there would be trash strewn from one side of the earth to the other. His Kitty isn't like that. She can't stand litter and always protected him, even from humans, but even she is messy. He's never known a girl who dated so many Peters in her life, and it's another Peter who's the reason for her being in the stars now. His name isn't Peter; he doesn't stand a chance.
He's only a dragon. He's only just a pet to her, nothing more or less. She calls him her friend, but he knows how she truly feels. As much as he loves her hands on his scales, every pat she gives him just serves to remind him that he'll only ever be her pet. She'll never look to him as an equal, let alone as his own dragon.
He looks back up into the glistening sun and knows he can not do it. No matter how much his heart aches for her, no matter how many times he swears he hears her name whispered to him on the breezes here, on other land, or in his spaceship, he can not go back to Kitty. He can not go back to the life he had before. He can only keep living the one he has now, as the diplomat of his people and the protector of so many more. Lives are relying on him just as they once relied on Kitty, on Excalibur, and on the X-Men. It's his turn to serve, and by the time he gets done serving and is ready to advance to the next step of him, Kitty will be an old, old woman, not able to fight or dance --
His thoughts stop as he watches lush, green vines swaying in the breeze and looking as though they are dancing. He coos softly, a tear leaking down his scaly face. He'd almost forgotten what it was like to dance with her, to hear her laughing like music and feel her twirling him around in her arms . . . He'd never known such a joyous feeling as she had given him in those times! Now his heart aches for her again, but he knows.
He can never go back. He can never deserve her love again. He never deserved it in the first place. That she had given her love freely to a little, lost dragon no longer mattered, because she hadn't known who that dragon was. She hadn't understood who he was, and she doesn't understand now. She'll never understand. To her, he'll always be that frightened, lost dragon she'd first found trembling slightly in the tunnels beneath her first real home. He'll always be her pet.
But to him . . . He blinks back tears as he raises his face into the full sunlight. To him, Kitty will always shine brighter than any sun in any sky. She'll always be far more beautiful than any rainbow or all the stars shining in the cosmos as he speeds his ship through them and onward to his next mission. She'll always be the first person who truly loved him and the reason he learned to do what he should and fight to protect those he should. She'll always be his Kitty, his dearest, most treasured friend who saved so much more than just his hide when she found him in those tunnels.
He coos softly into the alien sunlight, knowing, too, he'll always miss his Kitty and never feel complete without her arms around him. But this is the life he has been given to live, and live it he will. He'll do more than that. He'll use it to protect the cosmos. Even when others would leave this job, even when he himself comes to be expected to live it, he'll still be out here, protecting and saving the universe not because he has to but because his beautiful, wonderful Kitty is a part of this cosmos.
He protects it for her. He saves it for her. He lives because of her, and he loves, too, because she first loved him -- even if she only thought he was a pet at the time. Lockheed's screech carriers across the alien planet. He was never just a pet, but what he is, he will always be, and that, more than anything else, is forever Kitty's.