The girl on the bed sighs in her sleep, tugging at the covers as she shifts positions from her back to her side. The little dragon perched on the headboard tenses slightly, alert for any sign of pain, fear or distress. But no, Kitty Prude sighs contently and even smiles a bit into her pillow, and so the creature known as Lockheed allows himself to relax just the slightest bit.
Not too much though. There will be no sleep for him tonight. Not after a day spent watching the being he loves above all else in the universe recklessly throw herself into danger.
He had been by her side the whole time, and though he is grateful to the fates for making that possible (for who knows what could happen to her were he not there to protect her) he still wishes more than anything that he hadn't had to see her standing there, so looking so small and unprotected in her delicate, easily torn human skin, facing down the mad god that was poor Brian Braddock's estranged brother. Jamie Braddock has killed so many people, on so many levels of the Multiverse, and if it weren't for her mutant phasing ability and her own innate brilliance, then Kitty might very well have been one of them. She could have been lying cold and broken in some minor pocket of reality instead of warm and safe underr Lockheed's careful gaze, and then what would he have done?
He snorts a bit of fire at the thought. Kitty wrinkles her nose and pulls a sheet up over her face in an unconscious reaction to the smell. And despite the darkness of his thoughts tonight, he cannot prevent the small, fond chuckle that escapes him.
He doesn't often think like this, despite the dangerous nature of their lives. In the light of day, Kitty is so very alive, a laughing, dancing, fighting dervish of a girl, that it seems preposterous to that any harm could ever possibly come to her. So he spars with her, helping her train and sharing in Brian and Kurt's joy and pride as all three of them watch her grow into perhaps one of the greatest leaders which mutantkind has had so far. It's only in the darkness that the fears creep in.
He shakes his head as his foolishness. His own species does not attach value judgements to light and dark; any thought that forms during the sun-hours is held to be equally worthy or worthless at moon-time. Clearly, he has been around humans too long. But as he stares down at the sleeping girl, he knows that he is nowhere near ready to leave them.
Or at least not this one.
Lockheed knows that she thinks of him as a pet, and he stopped holding that against her long ago. The truth is, neither of their cultures has a word that describes the exact nature of the relationship between them. They are closer than friends and much more than teammates. They are neither brother and sister nor nestlings, and though she provides his food and water he cannot see this sweet child as a substitute for the fierce dragoness who reared him. Inversely, it would be preposterous to hold for her the same hopes and expectations that he felt when he watched his long-dead mate's clutch of eggs begin their slow cracking. At least 'pet' encapsulates the devotion they feel for each other, which crosses the barrier between their species with ease. Truth be told, it is possible that he has come to think of her as a pet as well.
Something in Kitty's dreams makes her smile again and Lockheed's heart rejoices in that. At least until the cause of her joy escapes her in a reverent whisper, reigniting frears which have become more and more difficult to ignore recently.
"Rachel", Kitty breathes out. " Oh, Ray."
It is not that Lockheed doesn't like Rachel Summers. In fact, he does like her, although any being as old and battle-scarred as he would have reason to fear the deadly Phoenix force within her. But Kitty's love for Rachel is such a potent and raw-nerved thing, one inevitably destined to cause her pain. The truth is that despite her friendship with Kitty, the red-haired woman has never demonstrated any desire to mate with other females. Lockheed's sensitive nose has told him all that he needs to know; the pheromones that he senses coming from Rachel in the presence of a man she finds attractive are not there when she is with Kitty. And there is nothing he can do to prevent the inevitable agony which that will someday cause.
He knows he is not the only one to worry about it. He has seen Kurt Wagner's brow furrow when he is in the presence of the two young women; he has noticed the concern on Nightcrawler's face when Kitty stares, longingly, at an oblivious Rachel. At one time, his possessive dragon instincts would have flared up at such sights - Kitty is his to protect and worry over, not Wagner's - but his time with the humans has taught him the futility of such emotions. And besides, Kurt has the arms which Lockheed lacks, and will therefore be able to give Kitty the hugs she will need when the pain which he cannot prevent strikes her. When she finally accepts the truth.
But a lack of arms does not mean a lack of ability to give comfort, and so Lockheed flutters down from his perch to rest against Kitty's chest and belly. She snuggles close, clutching him in the same way that she used to hold her teddy bear at night just a few short years ago. Then she yawns and cracks open an eye.
"Lil' dragon?" Kitty mumbles, only half awake. "Is it time to get up already?"
Lockheed gives a negative mutter, knowing that he'll be understood as much as necessary. Then he tucks his head against her shoulder and gives a soft purr, finding the frequency that he knows will lull her alien brain back into a sweetly dreamless sleep. He waits until her breath is soft and even, her incongruous fighter's muscles lax and unguarded. Then, finally, he curls up in her flannel embrace and allows himself to rest.