He was exhausted. Steve had been traveling for weeks, now, one day bleeding into the next. There was silence, save for the constant rush of air, of powerful wings pushing through them as Libby skimmed over the tops of the trees. Steve dropped down, winding his way through the mess of branches and vines. It was almost impossible to keep going – until it wasn’t. The way became surprisingly clear and Steve started to wonder just where the hell they were.
When he heard a soft sound, a trill followed by an excited sound, something sharper and lower, Steve turned to watch Libby circle and come back to him, only to circle again. “I can take a hint,” he called out, his voice fond, if a bit confused. They were out in the middle of nowhere, far from any village or post – far from any soul, beyond theirs. “If I find out you’re leading me into a pond again… ” There was laughter in his voice as he ducked under a wide branch. And anything he’d been ready to say beyond that was cut off when he saw smoke.
Steve took a moment to just look, to watch the steady plume of smoke rise up before looking back at Libby, who was watching him with a smile. No one ever saw it as he did, ever could, but he could see it in the expression on her face, in the way her body shifted, the scales a beautiful shimmer of burgundy and blue. He felt it, even without the low hum that told him absolutely everything he needed to know. He knew her so well, better sometimes than himself, had spent years learning her and being learned by her. “Someone’s here,” he murmured, and though caution should have slowed him down, he sped up, shaking his head in anticipation of a wary sound that generally accompanied him into a fight or a leap or anything else that placed him in the line of fire. His excitement blurred out the lack of it, and Steve pushed his way through the last of the trees before breaking out into a clearing.
He stopped, staring at the bricks; there was barely a blink when the rush of air forced his eyelashes to bow in a quick blink. There was another rush of air, and Steve looked at Libby, reached out to run a hand along the length of her neck, smooth and warm from the sun, before she took to the sky to watch for him, leaving him to walk forward, his head cocked to the side. “Hello?”