Tony sits up in alarm at the call and he sees Steve racing down the beach towards him. He levers himself to his feet as he looks around for danger - and while Tony doesn't see any threat, he rushes over to the suit he had left standing sentry a few feet away. Steve had sounded terrified, and Tony's heart is already racing. Is something wrong back at the Academy?
The gold suit he had specifically developed for underwater missions encases him, the fish bowl of a head sealing him in tight.
"You coming?" Tony asks Hercules who remains on his beach towel, soaking up the sun.
"Let me know if the fight is glorious enough for me," he drawls as he simply turns over and shows off his back muscles.
Tony lets himself appreciate the sight for one short moment - or, okay, maybe a couple of short moments - before he shakes his head. A god would probably be helpful in handling whatever situation is happening at the Academy, but without knowing the threat was apocalyptic he didn't think he would be able to entice Hercules to help out.
"Problems?" Astero asks as he comes up to Tony, a spear and a bucket of crab in his hands. Tony might rapidly be reaching his limit on the amount of seafood he'd like to consume, but at least it was all caught fresh and delicious. Befriending the Lemurians had great benefits other than simply getting a bit more time off in having to fight and defend the Academy. Fury should totally make Tony the diplomat for the Avengers, he was great at this.
"Not sure," Tony answers with a sigh. "I'm probably going to need a rain check on our date." He waves at Steve, who had stopped while still thirty feet away.
"You're not joining him?" Astero asks Hercules, who waves away the concern.
Tony then takes a few steps away - Lemurians were especially sensitive to the heat from his repulsors - before taking off towards Steve who was still frozen, his shield almost dropping to the ground.
"What's the situation, Cap?" Tony asks when he stops in front of Steve.
But Steve is still staring behind him, at the group that Tony had left. "What is going on?"
"What? Us? We're just hanging out on the beach," Tony explains, waving at their group. Astero was talking to Hercules, and Astero's boyfriend, Balan, was coming up out from the ocean with his own bucket of crabs. Poor timing for an Academy crisis, Tony thinks with a sigh.
"With Hercules? And Lemurians?" Steve asks, his voice rising.
"Yeah! I've appointed myself the Academy's diplomat and negotiator of non-violent hangout sessions. These two Lemurians are nice and agreed to hang out, anyway. I'm making them shark repellent because no one should have to deal with that, I've experienced that more than enough and I don't even live in the ocean. I mean, what is it with sharks and wanting to bite my ass?" Tony asks, getting a thrill when Steve takes a long look at that area of Tony's body - unfortunately now covered by the suit - with a look of concern. "So then they said they'd trade the repellent for crab, and Hercules and I were going to sun tan in our speedos anyway so we figured why not make it a foursome?"
Tony took one look at Steve's face, twisted and pained, and continued hurriedly, "Not like that! I mean, not that I can't see why anyone wouldn't want to, I mean, have you seen me in a speedo? And Hercules, he's like, a god, so of course, and the Lemurians are together, like dating together, and granted I haven't asked them what they're into because that seems rather personal and invasive so..."
Steve doesn't stop staring, and Tony tries to scratch the back of his neck but he only hits the reinforced-glass of his helmet. "Did you want to come meet them?" Tony asks, gesturing back at the group."Or wait - no - what was the emergency? Did Hydra make a move? Is Sam okay? Maybe you and Sam should share the crown, just in case he needs a break, you know, that Serpent Crown sounded like nasty business with all that purity and virtue stuff..."
"Sam holding up fine," Steve assures. "Odin made a good choice in picking Sam. I'm sure he'll be fine, but that's a good contingency plan, Tony. Hydra is...Hydra, but we're holding up okay. I just thought...you were...I saw you, on the beach, and there were Lemurians coming with weapons and you didn't react so I..."
"Oh. Uh, yeah, we're fine. They're friendly," Tony needlessly reassures, but the last bit of tension drops from Steve's shoulders as he sets his shield on his back. "But really, did you want to join? Though if you have a speedo, that would be better..." And Tony tries, he really does, not to let his eyes wander down Steve's body and imagine it in a speedo, but he isn't successful. By the time he meets Steve's eyes again, Steve's eyebrows are raised in challenge and Tony offers a sheepish smile. "Well it's not like you want to suntan in your uniform!"
Steve rolls his eyes.
"Well...I'm going to...yeah," Tony says, gesturing back to the group. "Hopefully Hercules hasn't eaten everything. Do you like crab?"
"I think so?" Steve asks, frowning in thought.
"Well that doesn't even matter because this is the best crab, so even if you didn't like it before you definitely have to try it again," Tony decides and he grins as Steve lets Tony drag him back over to the group. He can't wait to have Steve try the crab, and talk to the Lemurians, and see Tony being awesome at diplomacy in befriending the Lemurians, and maybe Steve might get hot and take off his shirt...this was going to be a very good day.
"Good news, everyone! The Academy is fine!" Tony announces as they come up. Tony hits the release on the armor and pops out, sighing as the breeze and the sun hits his skin again rather than pressing up against metal. Not that metal bothers him, but today's weather is best enjoyed in his speedo; he'd designed the material himself, though Jan had convinced him to stick with classic black and only the Avengers logo on the side rather than his usual Iron Man color scheme. Boring, but she had insisted.
Steve coughs and Tony turns to him. Steve's face is slightly red, but he can't be burning already, can he? Or Steve must've been giving him a cue... "Right! Introductions - everyone, this is Steve Rogers aka Captain America. Steve, you know Hercules and this is Astero and his boyfriend Balan who are trading us food for shark repellent. I'm almost done synthesizing the second round of tests, I promise," Tony informs them as he plops back down onto his towel.
"Captain America, what an honor!" Astero says as he slithers closer." Attuma has told us multiple tales of your strength and strategy during battle!"
"...Thank you," Steve says politely, shaking hands. "I'm sorry for the confusion. I'm happy to see our teams mending fences."
"Captain! We have yet to spar, and I find this a tragedy given tales of your abilities. What say you to a bout of arm wrestling?" Hercules chimes in as he lounges on his beach towel.
Tony drinks in the view - it's a small speedo and a lot of muscles, sue him - but then turns to Steve when his reply isn't forthcoming. Steve is giving Hercules the angry-judgment stare, and Tony winces even though relief bubbles in his chest that the look isn't being directed at him.
"I look forward to it," Steve answers, his voice polite but icy. "Though now doesn't seem the best time."
Hercules chuckles, turning away and dismissing Steve. "Well you just let me know when you're prepared for battle."
"I will," Steve bites out, his fists clenched at his sides.
"Well!" Tony exclaims with what even he recognizes is a bit too much enthusiasm. "That will be quite a showdown. We'll have to invite you to the competition," Tony says to Astero and Balan. Pepper should witness this, his diplomacy skills are amazing.
Astero and Balan nod their acceptance, and at least Steve finally stops glaring at Hercules.
"Well...crab?" Balan offers, holding out a heaping bucket.
Hercules turns back to them and reaches for it, but Tony swipes it away quickly enough and plops down on his towel with his prize settled in his lap. "Thank you!" Tony says as he grabs a crab leg; he refuses to feel guilty as Hercules already has two empty buckets next to him.
Tony takes a bite, and then chokes on his mouthful as Steve strips off his shirt. He has to pound on his chest as Steve looks on in concern, and Tony's face flushes but stuffs his mouth full of crab before anyone can ask him a question. Steve folds his shirt and sets it next to his shield, both items close enough to be within reach. Tony watches out of the corner of his eye as Steve's hands flutter around his belt; his heart races so fast that Tony wonders if he might be having a heart attack. He continues chewing the crab so he doesn't choke again and desperately tries to keep from outright staring at Steve, but then Steve's hands settle on his waist, not taking off the belt. Steve takes a seat next to Tony as his heart calms down, relief and disappointment warring in his chest.
Astero and Balan perch close by, sticking to the pockets of sand they've wet for such a purpose. Tony looks at where the ends of their tails curl together, and as Steve's knee knocks into his as he reaches for another crab leg, Tony flushes with the thought of double-date. He recovers by launching into the results from his first round of shark repellent. He'd tested it only by simulation, of course, with promising effects but with lots of room for improvement.
"It's very nice of Tony to make us shark repellent! It will be very, very much appreciated," Astero tells Steve and Tony can't help preening, just a bit.
"I would prefer shark wrestling, myself! Make a shark attractant for me, wouldn't you, Stark?" Hercules calls over to them.
Tony snorts. "Cover yourself in fish guts and they'll be attracted all right," he replies. Tony shivers as he remembers his last bout with a shark; he'd known his suit would protect him, but that didn't stop the terror as an eight foot shark charged at him with its jaws open wide. Steve rests a hand on Tony's knee and squeezes, and Tony gives him a grateful smile.
"Ick. Perhaps one not so repugnant," Hercules decides.
"I'll put it on the list," Tony says, though it will remain firmly in the category of something he does not ever field test.
Balan chimes in with some helpful remarks about currents and water movements to help with the repellent dispersal without losing concentration. When Steve comments about their electric pikes, Astero and Balan started off on a chain of stories of when they'd had to fight off multiple sharks at once, and Steve and Tony started trading them stories of when they'd had to defend the Academy.
"Dinosaurs!" Balan comments with a shiver. "Anything prehistoric is horrific. If you can create a repellent strong enough for megalodons, then I will sleep easy at night."
"You're not nearly big enough for a megalodon to snack on you," Astero teases.
"They still exist?" Tony asks, horrified.
"They're rare, but there have been sightings in the deepest part of the ocean where this one wants to go exploring," Balan explains with a sigh as he elbows Astero.
Tony gulps, and Steve comments with, "No thank you," before stuffing another bite of crab into his mouth.
The conversation continues, and Tony takes several sneak glances at Steve and his wonderful, wonderful biceps. He shoves down the thought of biting them, telling himself later, he can think about it in much more detail later, when he doesn't have Steve reaching into the bucket that is in Tony's lap and therefore extremely, extremely close to areas where he would also like Steve's hand and...
"Steve, I think you're starting to burn," Tony comments after he sneaks another quick glance at Steve's shoulders.
Steve twists, looking, and Tony feels free to watch the muscles shift now since everyone is looking at Steve. And yes, Tony can no longer tell if Steve is flushing from the attention or if his face is already sunburnt.
"Oh, that's possible. I should probably head back then before it gets much worse," Steve says with a long sigh.
"What is this? You are burned?" Astero asks, sliding closer as he looks over Steve.
"It's a human skin thing," Tony explains. "Too much sun, or specifically the radiation from the sun, can burn us. It's probably a bit like simply drying out," Tony says as he gestures towards the water buckets the Lemurians kept close by for when they were feeling parched. "Next time I'll bring sun screen for you."
With a sigh, Steve gets to his feet. He gathers his shield and shirt, though doesn't put the latter on which Tony appreciates very, very much. Tony stands as well, offering the bucket containing only the crab exoskeleton pieces back to Astero. He gathers up his towel, shaking out the sand, and Hercules grumbles as some of the grains rain down on him.
Tony bundles the towel into a small wad, and Steve steps forward to take it from him with a sigh and a roll of his eyes. Tony hands the towel over with a smile, and Steve shakes his head as he starts to properly fold it. After most of their site is cleaned up, Hercules sighs and gets to his feet. He hands his towel to Steve with a broad smile and a helpless shrug. Tony stifles a laugh as Steve grits his teeth and folds Hercules' towel as well.
They make their goodbyes to Astero and Balan, with Tony promising to let them know when he's made a field-test worthy shark repellent. As the Lemurians dive back into the water, the three of them head back to the Academy gates.
"That went really well, Tony. Nick work," Steve compliments, going to knock Tony's shoulder. Tony darts out of the way before Steve can touch him; Tony had put the armor back on, and the surface has gained heat standing in the sun. Instead Tony knocks into Hercules, who catches him around the shoulders before he can stumble to the ground.
"The armor is really hot right now," Tony explains hurriedly as Steve's face twists, and Tony tries to step back from Hercules as well.
"Few things are too hot for me," Hercules claims and he slings an arm around Tony as they continue their path back to the Academy.
Tony laughs and gives Steve a confused look when the other simply scoffs.
When they reach the Academy gates, Hercules jostles Tony who is still under his arm. "It was a great bonding with you, Tony Stark the Iron Man," Hercules claims. "We must do this again!"
"Yeah!" Tony agrees with a smile. Hercules reminded him of Thor who is, quite frankly, awesome. "Maybe I'll catch you around the hot tub one of this times too."
"You would be most welcome!" Hercules replies. "I am beginning to see why Miss Potts said she preferred men with beards."
Tony's jaw drops. "Pepper said that?"
"Indeed," Hercules confirms, and then he's waving goodbye and walking away. Tony stares after him, still in shock - though not enough to not notice attention Hercules gets as he walks through campus in his speedo. It is quite a view.
Then Steve knocks on Tony's helmet, and Tony turns back to him. Steve's jaw is clenched, his brows furrowed. It reminds Tony of Steve's 'plan for battle' face, but he can't imagine why Steve would need that right now.
Steve blows out a short breath. "Tony, um... you, uh, wouldn't happen to have any lotion or anything, would you? For the sunburn, I mean..." Steve looks at his arms, which seem to be turning an even brighter red.
"Yeah, I should have some back at the Tower," Tony replies as he takes in Steve's biceps again. How were they so fantastic? At least he has enough brain power to mutter to JARVIS to check for aloe vera, and if they didn't have some to send Rhodey on an emergency trip immediately.
Steve's face turns a shade lighter red, and Tony's concern skyrockets before his thoughts are completely derailed by Steve's question. "You, um, wouldn't mind helping me put it on, would you? I mean, it would be hard to reach my back, and - "
"Sure! Yup, I can totally help, no problem!" Tony says, and even as he agrees he curses himself for his lack of chill. "I mean, uh, yeah, I think so. Don't think I have anything else going on, but if you want to find someone else that's cool too."
"Oh, uh," Steve stumbles, frowning. "I mean, if you're busy..."
"Not busy," Tony assures. "JARVIS, I'm not busy right? Right, I'm not busy. I can help. If, you know, you still want."
"Yeah, okay," Steve agrees with a smile.
They grin at each other for a moment, and then another, and another. And then Tony sees Jan a block over, eyes wide and phone out and pointed at them, and Tony herds Steve over to the Tower.
"That looks really painful, Cap. You might need to apply aloe vera on that almost hourly," Tony observes, trying to keep his voice even as he trails Steve.
"Oh, maybe. I mean I heal fast, but I want to be ready in case of a Hydra attack, you know? I mean, if you're not busy, do you mind...?"
"No, absolutely, I mean - I'm not busy. I can totally help."
JARVIS confirms that they have aloe vera, but Tony has him send Rhodey out on an emergency supply run anyway. He is not taking the slightest chance on running out of lotion to rub on Steve's back.