The gentle swaying of his body as it moved with the motion of his surroundings was the first sensation Tony registered as he slowly regained consciousness.
The second was the splitting pain in his head.
With a nearly inaudible moan and a great deal of effort, he raised his head from where it had slumped against the wall. Brown eyes remained closed as he extended his senses and began gathering information. There was a dull and constant rumbling somewhere up ahead; an engine, and coupling that with the fact he was very obviously in motion, Tony concluded he was in a vehicle. A large one, considering he was currently folded on his knees on a metal floor. His forearms were bound together and secured tightly behind his back just below his shoulder blades. The angle was uncomfortable and his shoulders were already aching. A quick flex of his fingers and Tony knew his fisted hands were secured in some kind of leather mitts, ensuring he would have no use of the appendages at all. The straps that secured the mitts were obviously tight and unyielding from the feel of them. He knew without even seeing that attempting to escape from them at this point in time would be a waste of his energy.
There was something on his face too. Actually, it was all around his head. A quick scrub of his cheek against his shoulder revealed a series of what felt like leather straps; a harness of sorts. What really got his hackles rising, though, was the noticeable absence of the prickly hairs that made up his signature goatee. Instead the skin on his chin was smooth against his shoulder. Someone had shaved his face. For what reason, he had no clue, but what he did know was that someone was going to suffer for destroying a national treasure.
Having gathered all the information he could from feel and sound, Tony finally dared to open his eyes. As he had suspected, he was in the back of a truck or van. There was only one small window at the top of the left wall, but the sunlight it allowed through was enough for him to see by as he peered around him. Aside from a door that would open at the end of the enclosure---trailer or truck then--- there was nothing of significance aside from a few leads of rope that hung from hooks on the ceiling.
He turned his gaze to his left when he heard a shuffling movement there, and his eyes flew open wide when he saw Steve bound beside him. The man was naked and his hands were mitted while his arms were bound behind his back like Tony’s. He also had a dark blue leather harness around his head, which Tony assumed must have been what he felt on himself. It resembled a horse’s halter, only altered for a human’s facial structure. Brown eyes traveled down to Steve’s torso, which was encased in another harness made up of various leather bands that crisscrossed across his pecs, showcased his impressive set of abs, and wound tightly around his waist. From the angle he sat, Tony could see that something was attached to the harness at the back, perched directly on top of where Steve’s tailbone would be. It was shiny, blonde like the man’s hair, and cascaded along the floor.
It was a tail. A horse’s tail.
Tony’s eyes shot up to meet Steve’s blue ones. He could tell from the man’s expression that he’d been awake longer than Tony had and already had time to evaluate their situation; and considering they were still sitting bound in the back of a trailer, that did not bode well.
Tony jerked his head down and found that he was trussed up in an identical harness to Steve’s, though his was red rather than blue. IronMan red. The rat bastards.
He twisted around as best he could and sure enough, a glossy chestnut tail sat proudly above the swell of his naked ass, a near perfect match to the hair on his head. But there was something else. Something he hadn’t yet noticed because of the pins and needles that had developed in his legs due to them being folded beneath him for so long.
Tony struggled wildly to pull his numb legs out from under him, and though he ended up tipping over without the aid of his arms and lay on his side instead, his wide eyes were finally able to see the reason his feet felt so heavy and awkward to him.
Instead of feet, he had hooves.
Ok, so that wasn’t entirely accurate. His feet were still there, but they were strapped into a set of boots that tied tightly up his claves. The black leather gleamed brightly, even in the low light, and Tony’s eyes followed the line of them down to the horse-like hooves that made up the sole of boots. His feet, he could tell even laying down, were arched highly into what would have had to have been 7 inch stilettos had there been actual heels, and the ball of his foot rested within the hoof itself. They even had metal horseshoes nailed to the bottom of them.
Anger welled up within the engineer as the shock wore off, and he thrust one of his hooved feet into the air, turning his eyes on Steve as his mouth opened to shout a stream of obscenities that should properly put into words how he felt about their current predicament.
But no words came. Tony blinked and snapped his mouth shut in befuddlement. Steve looked at him and gave a sympathetic shrug of his shoulder. Apparently the larger man had already figured out they couldn’t speak. They couldn’t speak, Tony couldn’t express his extreme pissed off-ness, and Steve was just SITTING there all calm and Captain America-like!
Oh, no. This was not ok! He couldn’t seem for form words, but Tony still managed a shrill shriek of displeasure as he kicked his feet against the side of the trailer in an attempt to get the stupid boots off his feet. The metal shoes on the underside of the hooves clanged loudly and even threw out the occasional spark as they collided with more metal, denting and scratching the wall beside him as he unleashed his fury.
Beside him Steve shuffled closer with the intent of calming him down if his firm ‘you’re acting like a child’ frown was anything to go by, but Tony wasn’t hearing it. He’d been kidnapped and dressed up like a fucking PONY, for christ’s sake. He was naked and the metal floor he was sprawled on was cold on his bare ass, and he couldn’t move his fingers, and that fucking tail kept tickling the back of his thighs, and his nose itched and everything just SUCKED!
And then the engine stopped. The lack of steady movement immediately made Tony pause in the middle of his tantrum to listen. He could hear the driver and passenger leave the cab, the doors rattling the vehicle as they were slammed shut behind them. There were muffled voices as more people seemed to join them, and Tony tracked their steps as they rounded to the back door of the trailer. He glanced at Steve. The man was in soldier mode. His body was tense, his eyes focused on the door as he readied himself to fight.
And Tony was currently sprawled on his back with his legs kicked up against the wall like an indignant child.
The large door opened and folded up into the top of the truck with a loud ‘swish’, and Tony internally cursed as he struggled to right himself without the aid of his arms. He only managed to roll onto his stomach and get his knees beneath him before the sudden introduction of direct sunlight made him squeeze his eyes shut and turn his head away.
He heard a chuckle.
Oh, great. Because laying there with his ass in the air was much better than being on his back. Jesus.
“Looks like the little one has a temper. Look at the damage to your trailer.”
Little one? Well, fuck you too!
Tony grit his teeth and forced his eyes open again, blinking several times until he finally adjusted to the mid-day sunlight streaming in on him. Four men stood at the threshold of the trailer, their eyes roaming and appraising Tony and Steve in a way that made Tony shiver. The engineer pushed himself upright and onto his knees, subconsciously moving just a little closer to Steve in the process. The larger man next to him cast him a quick glance before refocusing his gaze on the men in front of them, and his muscles bunched defensively when the largest of them stepped into the trailer.
His hair was sandy brown and cropped short to his head. He was tall, possibly as tall as Steve, and he had intelligent hazel eyes that seemed more curious and cautious than threatening. In his left hand he held what looked like a lead with a clip on the end designed to hook into the rings of the harnesses Tony and Steve wore. His right hand was held palm out in front of him as if he were calming a wild animal.
His voice was gentle when he spoke. “Alright, boys, take it easy. I’m sure you’re both ready to stretch after spending so much time in here, right?” He gently shook the lead to make sure they saw it. “Just let me clip this on your harness and we’ll unload you.”
Tony arched a disbelieving brow. Was this guy an idiot? He knew he was talking to Tony Stark and Captain America, right? They weren’t dumb animals who couldn’t understand English. This was so unbelievable that Tony almost wanted to pinch himself to make sure he was actually awake and not experiencing some booze induced nightmare.
But he couldn’t. Because his fucking hands were bound.
And oh, look! The Horse Whisperer decided ‘the little one’ was first.
With a flare of his nostrils Tony brought one booted foot/hoof onto the floor, and once he was kneeling awkwardly on the ridiculously tall heelless stiletto, (because that’s totally what they were), he heaved himself up to both feet.
It didn’t go so well.
Without actual heels to lean on, Tony was forced to balance all his weight on the balls of his feet. With his arms bound behind his back and his legs still partially numb, Tony immediately began to stumble backward. The metal shoes on the boot’s hooves clacked loudly as he took several small clumsy steps in an effort to keep upright, but the moment his back met the wall behind him, Tony let himself slide down it until his rump hit the floor. Brown eyes glared murderously at the things on his feet as the remaining three men roared with laughter.
“He’s as wobbly as a newborn colt!” one howled.
“I think I’ve got a name for him. Stumbles!” another cackled.
Tony could feel his face burning as he turned his furious gaze on the men, but before he could even attempt to verbalize again, The Horse Whisperer snarled and twisted to face his comrades.
“Shut it, you idiots! You know they’re both green! Now all of you fuck off! Go get Sam to help me!”
The men continued to snicker amongst themselves, but they did as they were told and disappeared from view. Tony and Steve both watched them go before turning their attention back to the remaining man. Likewise, his attention was back on them, his expression apologetic as he took a step closer. This time, however, he moved to Steve.
“Alright. It looks like the little one needs more time----“
Oh, fuck you too.
"How about you? You seem a little more calm. Show your friend there’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Steve’s expression was wary as the man approached, but he didn’t move a muscle as the lead was clipped to his halter. Instead he allowed it to happen, keeping his blue eyes trained on The Horse Whisperer for a long moment before cutting his gaze to Tony. With a small, reassuring tip of his chin, Steve slowly climbed to his…hooves. His legs were shaky for the same reason Tony’s were, and Steve’s lips turned down into a frown as he eyed the strange boots and shifted his weight from foot to foot. The man holding his lead waited patiently, and when Steve was ready, he took a careful and tentative step toward the mouth of the trailer.
You would have thought Christmas had come based on the way Whisper’s face lit up. “Excellent! Take it as slow as you want. The grass will feel better on your feet.”
Tony snorted and leaned more heavily against the wall at his back as he watched Steve slowly make his way down the ramp. His head tipped to the side as that artificial blond tail swayed back and forth with his movements, inevitably drawing his eye to Captain America’s very shapely ass. Was that all natural or were the boots making those cheeks perkier? Tony briefly wondered how walking on his toes made his ass look. Magnificent, probably. It was already amazing, after all.
“Are you ready to try again?”
Tony violently startled out of his thoughts and jerked his head up. The Horse Whisperer was back with a new lead, and he was smiling down at him with kind eyes that kind of pissed Tony off. His foot twitched when he considered slamming his hoof into the man’s crotch, but he dismissed the urge with an irritated snort. Whispers hadn’t actually done anything to hurt them yet, but if he did….
As if sensing Tony’s train of thought, the sandy haired man stepped to the side and out of those hooves’ direct path.
So, not completely stupid then.
“Easy, boy. Jumpy one, aren’t you?”
….Never mind. He was stupid. Very stupid.
While Tony was distracted sorting out just how one man could be so moronic, The Horse Whisperer managed to clip the lead onto his harness. Tony threw his head back rebelliously, wincing sharply when the back of his skull collided violently with the wall behind him. Again, his mouth opened with the intention of spewing forth a litany of profanity, but all he managed was a pathetic keening noise.
Oh, yes. Why the hell couldn’t he talk again?! From what he could tell he felt no pain from his throat that would indicate an injury to his vocal cords, so what was the problem? And why wasn’t Steve using his super-duper serum strength to break free of his restraints? How’d they get here? Why wouldn’t his nose stop itching?
“Shhhh…Come on. On your feet, little guy.”
Oh, he was going to kill this man.
With the wall providing leverage this time, Tony managed to get to his feet again. Man, the boots made him tall! Not even the lifts he wore in his normal shoes could get him this kind of height. On the other hand, he was willing to sacrifice the extra inches for the comfort of being able to walk flat footed like a normal human being. How did Pepper strut around all day in those shoes of hers? Maybe it was less uncomfortable with a heel to help equalize the pressure between the heel and ball of the foot. In these boots, all his weight was on the balls of his feet; and it hurt!
His inner thoughts manifested themselves when Tony stomped a foot in frustration, and The Horse Whisperer murmured to him quietly and slowly walked backwards until the lead between him and Tony was taut. The engineer slowly walked after him in case the idiot decided to pull and throw him off balance again, and his movement earned him bubbly praise.
Tony rolled his eyes so hard he was sure they were going to fall back into his skull.
Negotiating the ramp was tricky, but he managed it with only a slight stumble. His hooves---ugh, that was weird--- sunk into plush grass, and Tony had to admit it did feel better on his feet. He kept his eyes on the ground for a moment longer until he was sure he wouldn’t fall again before turning them up to his surroundings.
Steve stood not too far off, his lead being held by a younger looking man---maybe in his early twenties---who looked like he could have been the son of The Horse Whisperer. It must have been Sam. Tony met Steve’s eyes, eyes that seemed too calm given their situation. He could see Steve’s message though. Stay calm, play along, learn what we can so we can come up with an escape plan, don’t get hurt.
Ok. He could do that. Calm, collected, stay out of trouble----Was this idiot trying to feed him a sugar cube?!
Tony took a step backward and away from the hand that had raised up to his mouth. In that upturned palm sat a single perfectly formed sugar cube, and Tony’s eyes turned to the owner of that palm and met Whisper’s smiling eyes with his own wide and disbelieving ones.
He couldn’t help it. He kicked the bastard. He kicked him with his steel shoed fucking horse hoof right in his fucking crotch. It sent them both sprawling backwards onto their asses, but it was worth the pain that shot up Tony’s spine. He wasn’t a goddamn horse and if this guy was going to feed him something, it’d better be a cheeseburger!
Steve’s eyes slid shut and he shook his head slowly as Sam cried out beside him. His shout must have alerted the three clowns Whisper sent away before, because before Tony could even attempt to get back on his feet, he found himself roughly forced down into his belly and shoved face first into the grass by two of the men as the third went to their injured comrade.
Tony thrashed wildly beneath them, but without his arms, he couldn’t get the leverage he needed to throw them off. He screeched---oh, another sound he could make--- when he was struck sharply across the shoulders with a crop. He could feel his skin redden and welt immediately after impact. He was struck again on his flank, and he hissed between his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut in preparation for the next blow. Instead of pain, the hands on him disappeared, people began to shout, and the ground on either side of Tony trembled as something impacted it.
Brown eyes slowly opened. A hoof rested not two inches from his face, and Tony turned onto his side and craned his head upward. That hoof belonged to Steve, who had broken loose from Sam’s hold and was now standing over top of Tony protectively. His long blond tail tickled over Tony’s chest, and he glanced around him as he tried to piece together what had happened.
The Horse Whisperer was on his feet again, though judging by his grimace; he was still in quite a bit of pain from the kick he received. Tony almost felt bad, but instead he cast the man a smug smirk. Served the bastard right. The two men who had attacked Tony were just now getting back on their own feet. Apparently Steve had either tackled them away from Tony, or kicked them away. Either way, they were going to be sore for a few days.
Above him—and hey, there’s a view you don’t see every day--- Steve stood firm, his eyes meeting those of each of their captors before they rested on The Horse Whisperer, who was approaching again with submissively raised hands. He spoke quietly and softly as if he were addressing a small child…or a horse.
“Heeeey, now. Easy. That was my fault. I already knew the little guy was skittish and I got in his space before he was ready. No one---“ Hazel eyes turned to the two bruised men at his side. “---is going to hurt you or your friend again.”
For some batshit crazy reason, Steve seemed to believe the guy. The tension left his body as he slowly straightened out of his defensive stance and stepped to Tony’s side rather than towering over him. The Man of Iron hated to admit it, but without Captain America shielding him, he felt exposed; and not because he was naked save for a few straps of leather.
When Whisper nodded, Sam slowly approached Steve and retrieved the lead that had been left to dangle on the ground from where it hung on the man’s blue halter. Tony slowly rolled back to his knees, wincing when his new wounds stung, and tottered back to his feet. His chest heaved as he drew in deep breaths. His adrenaline was still running high and his eyes darted around the yard. He noticed a barn for the first time since leaving the trailer, sitting not far from where they stood now in the middle of what looked like acres of farmland and pastures. There were no other signs of civilization in any direction he looked, just rolling hills and trees; nothing to help him identify where they might be.
As The Horse Whisperer gently and cautiously picked up his lead again, he sighed heavily, already knowing where they’d be heading next. It didn’t surprise him at all when he was walked toward the barn with a quiet reassurance from his ‘handler’.
“It’ll be ok.”
No. It wouldn’t be.