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Spoonful of Sugar

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Central Park shook, little tremors that rattled car windows and made tree limbs creak. A great shadow loomed over the city, saliva dripping from its teeth as it knocked over a statue. People screamed in terror as they pushed and shoved to escape.

Captain America and the Avengers stood back, analyzing the situation with a keen, trained eye.

"Is that what I think it is?" Spider-Man tilted his head sideways. Since he was perched sideways on a jungle gym, the effect was to turn his head upside down.

"If you think it's a giant puppy, then yes. It is." Steve pinched the bridge of his nose. The puppy's bark was high-pitched and louder than a foghorn. Iron Man had put a pair of mufflers over his helmet, but the rest of them made do. "Where's Giant Girl when we need her?"

"You are the one who authorized her vacation, Captain," Storm said. To her credit, he could barely tell she was restraining her amusement. "Have you a plan?"

He glanced around at the others. Luke shrugged, and Spider-Man looked like he was trying to whistle through his mask. No help anywhere. "It's probably just someone's pet, right? So maybe it's trained. I'll just—"

"Wait." Iron Man put an arm out to block Steve's way before he'd even taken a step. His armor creaked with the little sounds that said he'd locked the joints. "it's about to—" He was cut off when the ground quaked as the puppy bounced, growling at the fallen statue.

When the shaking stopped, Tony lifted his faceplate. "Are you seriously going to try and reason with a fifty foot tall Corgi?"

Steve pushed back his cowl. "It's a puppy, Tony. What's the worst that can happen?"

"Ow. Ow. Ow."

"What was that you said?" Tony asked as he re-hung a crooked lampshade. "Something about things going wrong?"

Steve glared up at Tony's smirk and sank down into his extremely, maybe even excessively, cushioned bed. His left leg was propped up on another pile of pillows, encased in a bright blue cast from knee to foot. Spider-Man had already signed it, including a smiley. "How was I supposed to know it would wag its tail?"

"It was a puppy. That's sort of their schtick." Tony, darn him, just went about his business, filling the water glass. "Is there anything else you'll need?"

Remote control, pillows, water, a snack, a book, his art supplies—Tony had already thought of everything. "I'm only going to be down a couple of days. I'll be fine."

"Mmhm." Pointedly, Tony nudged the snack tray closer. His clothes were still rumpled from being worn under the armor, and he had a bad case of Helmet Hair. From the time Steve had been tossed into the fountain to the moment he'd arrived back at the mansion, Tony had never been more than ten feet away. "You haven't eaten since breakfast, and it's almost nine now."

Steve crossed his arms and sunk deeper into the cushions, dropping down until his chin was pillowed on his bare chest. "I'm not hungry."

"Come on, Steve." The bed dipped as Tony settled on the edge of it. He picked up the plate and waved it under Steve's nose. "Just a little."

It wasn't much, just cheese and crackers with a side of veggies. Jarvis had made the strange brie dip that Steve liked but was afraid to ask how much it cost. Even with the dip, Steve wrinkled his nose. The painkillers they'd insisted on giving him were strong enough that his head swam. The thought of food was more than a little disgusting. "I'm fine. Stop it."

"One cracker." Long legs swung up onto the bed as Tony cuddled closer, somehow managing to avoid jostling his leg. He picked up a cracker and dipped it in the brie. His body was a warm stretch along Steve's side that he hadn't even realized was cold. "One bite, and I'll leave it alone."

After a minute of belligerent staring, Steve's shoulders slumped. Grumpily, he opened his mouth, and Tony wasted no time popping the tidbit in. He chewed and swallowed, then winced, waiting for his stomach to protest.

His stomach growled.

Steve flushed and set his jaw. "Okay. Maybe I'm hungry. A bit."

The anxious expression on Tony's face turned into a broad smile. He settled in and propped the plate up over Steve's stomach. "Great. Eat."

Steve set his expression in a frown. His leg was itching, his stomach cramped, and his head felt stuffed with cotton. He refused to be cheered. Refused. "I'll eat it later."

Like a sandcastle all dried up and crumbling, Tony's expression fell. "But you're hungry, and it's been hours."

"You go all day without eating!"

"Because I forget. I eat when you ask me to, don't I?" Tony held another cracker up, eyes big and soft. "Please? For me?"

Doomed. Steve was doomed. But at least he was doomed with a tasty cheese dip. And Tony's smile as he picked up the plate to start eating wasn't bad, either.


The bottle of pills rattled in Tony's hand. There were only a couple in the bottle, but they were giant-sized. Helmet Hair had been exchanged for Shower Hair, which was essentially the same thing, but slightly more damp. "If you don't take your pain medication, you'll hurt too much to sleep, and then you'll feel even worse."

"I'm not taking them." Steve crossed his arms. It was starting to become a familiar pose. On the bedside table, his alarm clock ticked past midnight. His leg ached from accelerated healing, and he was exhausted, but a line had to be drawn. "I hate the way they make me feel like my head is fogged up. I can deal with a little pain."

Tony stared at him for a minute, then smiled. "Okay, then. I'll just sign your cast and turn off the light. Then we can sleep."

Panic curled around Steve's throat. He shifted away from Tony. Even that little motion sent a stab of pain through his leg. "Sign my cast?"

"Sure." The pill bottle went down on the bedside table, and Tony bent down to dig through the art bag. When he came back up, he had a sharpie in his hand. The bed moved as he sat down, and little daggers of pain sliced through Steve's leg. "Cast is only going to be on a couple of days, right? I should sign now, while I have a chance."

Steve stared at the marker like it had grown fangs. His leg gave an extra twinge, just in case he hadn't gotten the message earlier. There was no way Tony could sign his cast without it hurting. "... Just give me the pill."

Wordlessly, Tony leaned up and kissed him. Confused but never willing to turned down a kiss, Steve leaned up into it with a sigh. The kiss stated slow and soft, until he felt something large and oval slip between his lips, pushed by Tony's tongue.

Yanking away, Steve swallowed. A familiar medicinal grit coated the back of his tongue, the flavor of a pill that had started to dissolve. He wrinkled his nose. "That's disgusting."

Tony leaned over and grabbed the water glass off the bedside table, offering it to Steve first, though he had to be tasting it, too. "I didn't think you were going to say yes."

Steve stared at the ceiling and fidgeted. The bedside clock had ticked past two AM, and even though he was exhausted and the horse pill had dulled the pain, he still couldn't sleep. He kept going over the day, thinking that he could have jumped, or dodged, or essentially done anything other than be bowled over by an enthusiastic tail wag.

Lying on his back didn't help—he'd always preferred to sleep on his stomach or, more accurately, Tony's stomach. Instead, Tony was curled up neatly against his good side. Which was nice, but not the same. And there was no way to get comfortable without squirming so much he dislodged his leg from its cushions. He tried anyway.

After a little bit of wiggling, Tony nuzzled his shoulder. Not bothering to open his eyes, he pressed a slow, warm kiss to it. "Can't sleep?"

Giving it up for a lost cause, Steve settled back where he was. "Go back to sleep, Tony."

"Mm, you first." Soft stubble scraped his skin as Tony nestled in beside him. His fingers crawled up Steve's hip, slipping under the edge of his boxers. "Need to relax."

Steve's breath caught, but he edged away from Tony's touch. "You don't have to—"

Another kiss, and Tony finally opened sleepy blue eyes. He blinked at Steve from a few inches away, rumpled and loose-limbed. Long, callused fingers slipped along Steve's dick, which was already growing hard. Apparently, not even heavy-duty medication delivered in doses meant for wild animals could keep him down. "Let me?"

Against those eyes, there was nothing Steve could do but relax back into his pillow and stop arguing. Tony wrapped his hand around Steve's cock and stroked. It was clumsy and awkward, and Tony couldn't keep his eyes open for more than a few minutes, but Tony's voice was a hot, slurred murmur of endearments against his shoulder. Steve had never managed to resist that voice the few times he actually tried.

When it was over, Tony was thoughtful enough to grab one of the napkins and dip it in the water to wash Steve's stomach. That turned out to be useful because Steve had melted and fused with the bed. He couldn't even move to wrap his arm around Tony's shoulders, and he drifted off to sleep at two thirty-six to the feel of Tony's smile against his shoulder.

Steve wasn't really sure he liked the idea of Logan cutting off his cast. Tony had a saw that would do it, but when Steve had asked he'd gone so pale that Steve had worried about his heart. So Logan it was, because it was either that or wait a week. SHIELD's doctor didn't think he needed it off after only a few days and wouldn't even try. If Steve had to wait that long, he'd end up throwing something through a wall.

The doctor definitely had a better bedside manner, though.

"Hold still."

"I'm not moving!"

"Ya are!"


"If I say ya are, ya are. So knock it off!"

Adamantium slipped along Steve's skin under the cast, sawing back and forth. He grit his teeth and tried to hold still. With the see-saw motion of Logan's claws, it was almost impossible. His leg kept slipping on the chair no matter how much he tensed the muscle. Logan grumbled and threatened to stop, but he kept working until the cast cracked off, splitting in three places.

Delighted, Steve stretched out his toes without bumping into hard plaster. Bones still ached in his leg, but it was ignorable. No need for pain medication, and he'd be back to full strength in a few hours. "Thank you, Wolverine."

"Don't mention it, Cap." Logan wiped the plaster off his claws and sheathed them before grabbing his root beer and wandering off.

"Are you sure you shouldn't have waited on that?" Tony poked his head around the door that lead up from his lab. He was wearing a casual tank and jeans, and there was already a smear of grease across his nose. "The doctor seemed to think that even you should be careful."

Steve set his face in the most Cap-ish, stern expression he could while wiggling his toes. "I've broken bones before."

"Fingers. It's not the same." Tony eased the rest of the way into the room. His eyes stayed low, locked on Steve's leg. "I guess you're happy to be able to take care of yourself again?"

"You can't have liked taking care of me," Steve protested. "I was a terrible patient."

"I love you." Tony finally looked up with a half-smile. "Even when you're terrible."

Carefully, Steve put his foot on the floor and stood. He wobbled a bit, two days of inactivity having left his muscles numb, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. As soon as he was sure he could walk, he limped over and wrapped himself around Tony's shoulders.

Still unsteady and clinging more than he liked, Steve leaned down and kissed Tony's cheek. "I love you, too. And I think I owe you a favor."

Tony's eyes brightened, then narrowed. His arm slipped around Steve's waist to support him. If Tony supported him by gripping his butt, Steve would just have to trust his judgment. "Are you sure you're up for it? I think there might be interest accrued."

Steve's next kiss landed square on Tony's mouth. "I'd better get on that then, huh?"