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What You Call a Shack

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"I told you, we've got this," Natasha said urgently through the comm. "Iron Man, do not, I repeat, do not -- oh, for -- Captain, will you tell him? We're fine down here. You need to stay airborne and get your cargo out of the city. And stay out."

"Clint?" Iron Man banked sharply downward, despite Steve's useless tugs at his armored shoulders.

"He's fine." Natasha sounded like she was losing her temper, and not with the mysterious winged robot she was fighting, either. "You've got bigger fish to fry."

"She's right, you know," Steve said.

Tony made a hmphing sound, but Steve was relieved to feel that they were no longer losing altitude. "Fine," he said. "We'll get the godforsaken --"

"Item," Steve said loudly, because they were still on the comm, and if the lead robot knew they were the ones who had the energy source, they were going to find themselves fighting this same battle in the air. But if he and Tony could just get the damned thing out of range, eventually they'd all die of dead batteries.

"Fine," and now it was Iron Man's unamplified voice flung back at him through the wind. "I've got a cabin in Canada, if you can hang on that far."

"Good plan," Steve shouted into the icy wind, and hung on.


"Where are we?" Steve said when they slowed down enough to speak.

"Near Queenston." And when Steve didn't say anything: "Across the lake from Toronto? -- jesus, you need to get out more, travel a little bit, get a feel for your planet -- all right, we're near a little place called Niagara Falls, ever heard of it?"

"Well, of course I've --" but the last rays of the sun were reflecting off the water, and even in a flight full of breathtaking views, this one was enough to strike him silent.

"Yeah. Now you see." The armor's voice didn't have much personality, but Steve thought Tony was probably smiling.

They banked over the lights of the city and veered off into the quiet, and finally a soaring edifice loomed up just inside a horseshoe of trees. A panel in the roof slid open to let them in, and Tony touched down lightly in a living room with a floor-to-ceiling window looking out over the water.

"This is what you call a cabin?"

Tony folded himself out of the armor, put the resulting suitcase against the wall, and then barked out an order that made a fire in the fireplace -- or some kind of flame, anyway, hissing out of things that looked like logs but weren't. In its light, Steve could see all sorts of gleaming electronic devices that did god knows what.

"I know, right? Hardly more than a shack. The hot tub will barely hold two." Tony said some more words, and there was a sudden smell of coffee. "And the cleaning service is only here twice a week -- look at this dust, will you?" More words, and a safe extruded itself from the wall; Tony keyed in a passcode, said his name, pushed his thumb on a pad, and tossed the pulsating energy device in when the door hissed open. "Not even a lab I could use to take that thing apart and figure out what makes it tick. I should sell this place and get something decent."

"Unbelievable." Steve shook his head. "Well, I guess I should be grateful you had a safe place to take us and get that device out of their reach."

"Mhm, mhm." Tony came to stand beside Steve by the window. The first stars were just beginning to come out. "How grateful, exactly?"

"Fine." Steve tried to sound more longsuffering than fond. He wasn't sure how well he succeeded. "What is it that you want from me?"

"Does your gratitude extend to a little kiss?"


An hour or so later, when Steve caught his breath, he opened his eyes again. Tony's reactor reflected off the window like a strange sort of moon over the lake. "That's what you call a kiss?"

Tony nuzzled sleepily against Steve's bare chest. "Mm," he murmured. "Hardly more than a peck, really. Give me an hour's nap and I'll show you the real thing."