what WOULD steve’s daemon be though
Ailsa takes a long time to settle.
She’s not a flashy sort, unless she’s angry. She’s usually birds - sparrows, pigeons, seagulls - quick-moving, sharp-eyed. Steve sort of assumes she’ll settle on one of those. “No,” says Bucky confidently. “She won’t.”
"I don’t know," Ailsa says when Steve asks her about it. "I don’t know how I feel." She turns into a small brown cat, twines around Steve’s feet, and then sits down and licks her paws disdainfully. "I’ll settle when I want to."
"Okay," says Steve. He’s fourteen, nearly fifteen. He’s the last person his age he knows without a settled daemon. Bucky’s Dolly settled two years ago into a massive dog, grey fur with icy tips, dark unnerving eyes. She’s a Siberian husky, apparently, according to the theologian up at the church whose job it is to know these things. Her low growl has more than once ended a fight Steve’s gotten himself into without Bucky actually having to throw a punch. Dolly’s pretty scary-looking. If you know her and Bucky at all you know she’s a sweetheart, but Steve guesses there’s something deep in the human mind that just doesn’t like the look of all those teeth.
Ailsa tries a few different kinds of dog, spends a couple of weeks as a big yellow retriever. Steve thinks that suits her pretty well, but she doesn’t agree. “It’s not right,” she says. “I’ll know when it’s right.”
"You’re not a dog," says Dolly. She’s sprawled across Bucky’s feet, head down, panting slightly in the summer heat. Steve’s a little startled to hear her voice. Dolly’s not talkative, even with people she’s known a long time. Ailsa chatters freely to Steve when Bucky’s around, even occasionally addresses a word or two to Bucky, but out of Bucky and Dolly it’s Bucky who got all the charm and people-pleasing. Dolly’s quiet.
"I don’t think so either," says Ailsa. She switches to sparrow - an old favourite of hers, which lets her flutter onto Steve’s shoulder and nudge his hair with her beak.
"I wish you’d just pick something," Steve tells her, exasperated.
"Hey, leave her alone, Steve," says Bucky. "Good things take time."
The day of Steve’s ma’s funeral, Steve gets into a fight with a man three times his size with a wolf daemon. As always Ailsa flies into a rage at the same moment as Steve loses his temper, but instead of one of her usual picks for a battle - bulldog, tigress, dragon - Steve hears a wild alien-sounding scream and sees her dive past him and hurl herself onto the wolf’s snout in a lightning-fast blur of long feathers and sharp talons. The narrow alleyway is almost too small to contain the massive span of her wings.
He knows right then that she’s not going to change again.
She’s too big to sit on Steve’s shoulder.
Bucky almost chokes when he sees her. “Is that an eagle?”
"Suits you," says Dolly, sounding amused.
Ailsa preens. “I know.”