(If you are reading this on any PAY site this is a STOLEN WORK, the author has NOT Given Permission for it to be here. If you're paying to read it, you're being cheated too because you can read it on Archiveofourown for FREE.)
"The first reports were dismissed as intoxicated ravings," Coulson said mildly. "To be fair to the officer who made that assessment, the angler's boat smelled quite strongly of whiskey. There were broken bottles everywhere."
"Uh huh," Fury replied noncommittally as the helicarrier followed the course of what used to be the Allegheny River, and what was currently more accurately described as the Allegheny Stream.
"Once the local disruption to the ecology became apparent, the EPA sent out a team to assess the situation. Fortunately, they realized it was beyond their scope before suffering any severe casualties."
Fury huffed. "And so they fumbled the ball back and forth between agencies for two weeks instead of notifying SHIELD."
"Well, sir, we are a secret organization."
The helicarrier rounded a turn around the tree-shaded muddy banks of the stream, revealing a wooden structure stretching across the width of the river and rising high above it. Fury raised his hand. "Set her down. But not too close." He eyed the giant green figure lumbering-- literally lumbering, with an entire tree trunk balanced across its back. Fury blinked. "And that is..."
"An oversized green polar bear," Coulson supplied helpfully as he began pulling on a set of waders. "Apparently the fur is hollow for insulation, and in warm climates can support the growth of green algae. Harmless to the bear, but startling."
"Yeah. Startling." Fury gave a look of disgust at the waders Coulson offered him, but he put them on. "Right." Fury turned to Maria Hill. "You're in command until my return."
"Yes, sir." Maria glanced out at the polar bear which was turned to look at them, head upraised and sniffing the air. "Good luck, sir."
Between them, Fury and Coulson had their tent up and camp set up before the helicarrier vanished in the distance, returning to its normal base high above New York City. "What do we do now, boss?" Coulson asked. The green bear had stopped watching them and was standing on top of the wooden dam, pushing the log into place while an outsized beaver chittered and slapped mud with its tail further down the pile. Another animal, even bigger, but of similar shape, lounged next to the beaver, brown pelt shining in the sunlight.
"Make s'mores," Fury grunted as he lit a Sterno cooker and opened his pack. He began sorting out graham crackers, marshmallows and Hershey bars.
"S'mores? Ah, yes. The antidote." Coulson brought out a tightly covered clay jar decorated with runes. It buzzed. "One, please," Coulson said, as he put a cup next to the jar. A single glittering pill emerged from the still sealed jar and plopped into the cup. "Thank you."
"It's a jar, you don't have to be polite to it."
"It belongs to Doctor Strange."
Fury nodded. "True."
They toasted S'mores and talked about the debatable desirability of enticing Strange to join SHIELD. Coulson put the pill into one especially large S'more and laid it down on a plate a dozen feet away from their camp, in a relatively dry mud patch. "Sir?" Coulson said softly after a while. The bear was standing on his hind legs, sniffing, and then went to all fours and began ambling in a direct line for their camp.
"I see 'im," Fury replied quietly, and then he ate another S'more. "I haven't had these in years."
The bear whuffed and swayed from side to side when it came close. Fury and Coulson continued to ignore it. Finally it stretched out its long neck and long tongue to sweep the lone S'more into its mouth. It licked, gulped, and then sat down with a heavy thump.
"Um, Director? Agent?" Bruce Banner looked around in confusion. He was sitting naked in a mud puddle. The green bear was gone. "I don't... I didn't... the other guy..."
Coulson got up and offered Bruce a hand. "This was a different sort of transformation. We still don't know exactly what caused it, but your entire team has been transformed into various animals for the last two weeks."
Fury nodded. "And you've been busy." He waved at the massive dam. "Do you know why you've dammed the Allegheny?"
Bruce turned and stared at the dam. He scratched at the mud caking on his ass. "Um. Tony wanted it? I think?"
Coulson shook his head. "He's the beaver. Of course. I've seen his M.I.T. class ring, I should have realized."
Bruce nodded. "So. You've got plans to cure the others?"
"It would help, doctor, if you could tell us more about them," Fury remarked. "After you get dressed." He pointed to the tent.
"Yeah, right. Be right back." Bruce huffed and ambled, bearishly, into the tent.
Coulson looked at Fury. "Well, that was easy. None of the others appears to be as large or predatory, so it should go smoothly from now on."
Fury narrowed his eye at Coulson. "Cheese, don't jinx us."
Bruce hunkered down on his haunches with a mug of Earl Grey, hot, between his hands. His SHIELD jumpsuit fit badly. "Um, well, you know, Steve and Tony are together, right?"
Coulson looked pained. "Is that relevant? I guessed as much seeing the two beavers."
"It's a little relevant." Bruce sipped his tea. "Steve's not a beaver. He's a platypus. Over six foot tall and with poison spurs on his hind legs. And he's still got the Serum, so... yeah, he's... kinda protective of Tony. Thought you should know. Mess with Tony, or Tony's dam and...Steve will fuck up your shit." Bruce smiled benignly. "And that's if you can get past the others."
Fury ate another s'more. "And they are?"
"Well, Thor's a walrus. Big one. Great set of tusks, and you know, somehow he can still use his hammer." Bruce shook his head, and then reached up to scratch behind an ear. "Sorry. Fleas." He pinched a little brown thing with a crack and tossed it aside. "Damnedest thing, a walrus with a war hammer."
Coulson and Fury digested that in silence for a moment. "Don't walruses live in salt water?" Coulson remarked finally.
Bruce gave Coulson an eye-roll. "That's what you pick up on? Thor's all right, but he doesn't like fish. Something about them being 'chewy'. Oh, hey, got any clams? He's pretty well cleared out the shellfish from this area."
"Clams," Fury said. "Fine. What about Romanoff and Barton?"
Bruce scratched his belly and yawned. "Fish for 'tash. She's a giant otter. About way big." Bruce spread his arms and frowned. "Well, back when I was a bear that worked. Um... around eight foot long? Sharp teeth. Fast. And don't let her get you in the water." He finished his tea and dropped the mug carelessly. "Um, I'm still a bit bear. I think I'd better go now." Bruce got up and looked around vaguely.
"Wait, what about Clint?" Coulson asked with more than a hint of uncertainty.
"Oh, um. He's a fish. A giant archer fish. Really big fish." Bruce waved his hands in sort of a shooting gesture. "He likes bugs and fish an... you know flying things? He shoots them down with jets of water. PEW, PEW, PEW! It's kinda cool. He got a turkey the other day." Bruce wandered over in the direction of the dam. Thor's hammer flew up and then down on top of the dam driving a log down. Tony the beaver chittered angrily and dove off the top of the dam into the lake building behind it. There were other splashes, and roars presumably coming from a happy Thor walrus.
Fury sighed. "The Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people, see if they could become something more." Fury scowled. "PEOPLE! NOT ANIMALS!"
Coulson handed Fury another s'more. "I have a can of clam chowder in my pack, boss. We'll get Thor later. It'll... be... oh, God, don't look."
"What?" Fury lifted his head and followed Coulson's fixed gaze to the top of the dam. "Platypus and beaver are friends."
"Oh, God," Coulson whimpered before hiding his head in his hands.
Fury patted him on the back. "Look on the bright side, maybe Rogers will use his poison spurs."