Tony was, in a very rare moment of joy, sleeping.
Well, “sleeping” may have been the wrong word for what he was doing. He had passed out in his lab, after approximately seventy-two hours of preoccupation in trying to make armour that Bruce could wear, with the idea that, when he got really, really unhappy and was affected by his “little green problem”, the armour would change with him instead of being destroyed like a million pairs of nondescript blue pants had been before. Bruce had pointed out that the Hulk never really needed armour, but Tony had pointed out – validly, he thought – that eventually those poor pants of his wouldn't take the abrupt growth spurt from maybe 125 pounds to easily 600, and none of them wanted to run into battle alongside a giant flopping green dong. Let the Watchmen deal with the naked superhero dick. Tony was building the Hulk robot pants.
Just as Tony had been sure he'd made a breakthrough, though, fatigue had hit him like a ton of way-too-caffeinated bricks, and he'd set his head down, just for a minute, and was soon drooling on his workbench.
JARVIS had called for assistance with his comatose master a few minutes later, and it had been a snickering Steve that had carted Tony to bed. He hadn't done more than snore when the other had tossed him not-too-gently on the bed, and that was why, some seventeen hours later, Tony was still sleeping, crunched into his pillow as he snored, fingers of one hand brushing the floor.
“Avengers assemble!” The ID card on his bedside table howled in a voice that sounded suspiciously like Clint's.
“Hwah – gah!” Tony bolted up, flailing as he kicked his blankets off his bed. Eyes bleary, hair sticking up in angles that human hair didn't normally achieve, being as it was limited by gravity, he looked around, wildly, trying to find the threat. “What--- ?”
“I believe your Avengers are assembling. Sir.” JARVIS said, calmly.
Tony groaned, and slumped back to the pillows. “Can't they assemble after I’ve had a cup of coffee?”
The door to Tony's room suddenly smashed open, the door knob digging into the wall. The door seemed to vibrate in its frame for a moment, and Thor stood framed in the doorway, wearing his armour, Mjolnir in hand, eyes bright as he grinned at him. “Friend Tony! Hawk-Eye calls us into battle. Arise and don your armour!”
Tony groaned again, and slumped back down into the pillows.
“Thor Odin-Son is coming to retrieve you, sir.” JARVIS offered, almost sarcastically.
“Yes, thank you, JARVIS. I noticed.” He snarked.
“Tony!” Thor said again.
“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming.” He rolled out of his bed, crunching his knees on the floor when he literally rolled out of bed, and slowly shoved himself to his feet, running his hand over his stubbled jaw, wishing he had time to trim up the goatee, wash his hair, or down a pot of coffee. Scratching at the edge of where the arc reactor met his skin, he headed to the door, yawning. “You gonna move so I can actually go out? You make a lousy door.”
“Are you not going to gird your... ah... loins, friend?” Thor asked, not moving.
“I don't keep my suit in my bedroom, Thor.”
“That was not what I was referring to,” the blond said, terribly seriously, but he had a slight smirk as he said it.
Tony blinked at him, then down at himself.
Finally, he looked up and said, “I am pretty sure I was not naked when I was working in my lab. I may be wrong, don't quote me on that, but I am fairly damn convinced I was wearing clothes.”
“So you may have been, friend Tony! I do not know what happened once you entered this room. I know only that our Captain carried you to your chambers, and that our fellow warrior Clint calls us to assemble. Make haste! We are needed in battle!”
“You go on ahead,” he sighed, and turned back into the room to find something to 'gird his loins' with. “I'll meet you there.”
It took about five minutes to stumble into some clothing and tumble into his armour, and as the Mark Six thrummed around him, it took about another five minutes to meet up with the other Avengers, who appeared to be ganging up on a...
He wasn't actually sure, to be honest. He knew what it looked like, but even for the Avengers, that was absolutely ridiculous.
“JARVIS!” He barked. “Run a full spectrum analysis!”
“Done, sir. Are you looking for anything in particular?” The voice of his computer echoed around his head inside the helmet.
“Yeah!” He looked at his display, frowning. “What is that?”
“What does it look like, sir?”
“Don't give me any of that passive-aggressive bullshit, JARVIS, this is not my morning .” Tony groaned, swinging his legs forward to slow his approach, just surveying the scene for a moment. “So just run the analysis and tell me what the hell it is we're fighting!”
“That is a Boston Terrier, sir.”
“JARVIS...” he groaned.
“Or, perhaps more accurately, a Boston Terrier that appears to be approximately fifty six feet tall.” JARVIS amended. “It is actually an attractive specimen. Well out of the recommended size group for the American Kennel Club's standards, however.”
“I was hoping I was imagining that.” He sighed, and the jets flared as he sped closer again.
It was, in fact, a fifty-some-foot-tall Boston Terrier. It was formed exactly like it would be normally, well-proportioned, with a slightly smushed type face, pointed ears that flicked every which way at the slightest sound, and black patterned on white fur. It wasn't even attacking or rampaging, though, it was just standing there, its little nub of a tail wagging so hard that its whole ass was moving back and forth with it, and its massive tongue was lolling out of its giant mouth.
“Sheesh,” he shuddered. “Its teeth are as big as me.”
“Someone's purse dog got into the super powered steroids!” Clint yelled over the communicator, making Tony flinch in the helmet. Guy needed to learn that they could hear him, he didn't need to yell .
“JARVIS, adjust Hawkeye's volume controls so he doesn't pop my ear drums.”
“I heard that.” Clint said, louder , if that was even possible. “I'll have you know that there are people who--”
“Avengers!” Thor interrupted. “What do we about the beast?”
“Find someone really tall to adopt it?” The Captain suggested.
“Very funny.” Tony snorted.
“I'm serious.” Steve said, sounding a little offended. Tony could see him standing about a block from the dog's front paw, which was large enough to crush a tank under, shield hanging on his back, instead of out and ready to use. “It's a dog . It's acting like a dog. A good dog.”
“You are not bringing that thing back to the mansion.” Tony said. “I am not trying to house train a thing bigger than the house .”
“Aww, c'mon, Tony, it's cute !” Jan called over the headset. She flitted just to his left, and when he glanced in her direction, she flew up to him, hands looped behind her back as she grinned at him. “Wouldn't it be fun to have a pet?”
“No.” He rolled his eyes, and flew past her towards the massive animal. He waved at it, and said, “It's standing on a Starkbucks!”
“It is just trying to play,” Thor said, then picked up a hydrant that the rambunctious animal had apparently knocked over in its eagerness to do... well, whatever it was that giant Boston Terriers did. Cause havoc and wreck destruction, Tony imagined. Wasn't that what normal sized dogs wanted, anyway?
Thor hefted the hydrant, and called, “Retrieve this, beast!” before pitching the hydrant.
“Thor! No!” Tony howled.
The dog barked, and holy shit, if Clint was loud than this thing was sonic boom deafening, and leapt into the sky, plucking the hydrant out of the air, and dropped its front paws down on the ground, crunching a fairly nice silver BMW. The burglar alarm beeped plaintively, sort of strangled.
“Oh, nicely done , Thor, the thing is fifty feet tall! What were you thinking?”
The god had the good sense to look chastened, for a moment. “I was only treating it as I might have treated the hounds of my father, Odin...”
“Well, were your father's dogs the size of apartment buildings?” He threw up his hands, landing finally beside Steve, who frowned at him. “Come on, Cap, we have to be realistic here. We can't just go 'oh look, isn't it cute' and play fetch in Strawberry Fields! It's a fifty foot dog! Does that sound like the sort of thing a supervillain might do to anyone else?”
Thor gave him a truly tragic look.
“Oh come - “
“Incoming, sir.” JARVIS interrupted him, helpfully.
Tony burst into the air just in time to get out of the way of the fire hydrant, which the massive dog had just nearly dropped on his head. It landed with a splash of giant dog saliva on the sidewalk, and he groaned. “That is revolting .”
“Heh. Dog fetch.” The Hulk grinned at him, way too pleased by this development.
“It's a giant dog!” Tony threw his hands up in the air. “Even if you won't let us do our jobs, we have to at least get it somewhere, where it will stop - “
Tony was suddenly rocked in the air, enough that his display flared with warnings and he threw out his arms to stabilize himself. According to every one of his sensors, his suit was now saturated and dripping liquid.
“...did it just lick me?”
The squeals of glee that Jan was letting out were not comforting.
“My armour is going to rust .”
“It likes you!” Jan laughed, flitting about his head again, with a huge smile – relatively. “You know, I betcha between me and Hank, we could get him off the street, get him into the Avenger's mansion basement...”
“That thing would not fit in my basement!” He waved at the dog, who was now sitting on top of what had once been a street light.
“It could perhaps be affected by the shrink ray I used to use for the inmates of the Big House?” Hank's voice crackled over the speakers, then a moment later, Tony was sure he saw movement out of the corner of his eye that was likely Pym on the back of one of his beloved ants. That guy was weird. “Naturally, SHIELD has the ray itself in their control at the moment, but if we could contain it long enough to give us time to obtain the ray...”
“I cannot believe we are having this conversation. Hawkeye, tell them this is a bad idea.”
“I ain't cleaning up after it.” Was all that Clint answered with.
“Woah, come on.” Tony fumbled for support. Thor was busy throwing the damn fire hydrant up in the air for it to catch again, and Hulk was laughing , damn it, wasn't that guy supposed to turn back into Bruce Banner when he calmed down?, and Jan and Hank were just sort of gossiping like teen-aged girls, trying to figure out how to take the fifty-six foot dog that had followed them home down into the mansion basement. Clint, frankly, just looked sort of amused, arms crossed. So he appealed to the logical person.
“Cap, c'mon, you know how insane this is, right?”
“I think maybe we should try and figure out what's going on.” Steve hesitated. “Maybe the best way to observe is to keep it close.”
“ Et tu, Steve?” Tony groaned.
Hank Pym suddenly grew to alarming heights as Steve shrugged, sheepishly. As the bug guy scientist ruffled the dog's ears and laughed when it licked his face, Tony seriously considered the benefits of just ordering Steve to do the smart thing and get rid of the dog, instead of suggesting it to him, because dammit, Tony knew he was right about this and he knew that Steve would listen if ordered. Steve almost always followed his orders - it must have been drilled into him in the forties, or something. But that would probably be a little immoral, so he probably shouldn't do that. Really shouldn't, honestly. No fair, to basically have real power and feel way too stupidly guilty to use it. Five years ago, he would've done it, no hesitation.
“Fine. Fine!” He grumbled. “But if I ever have to utter the words 'I told you so', I am writing it across the sky in fireworks!”
“Eee! Tony, you're awesome!” Janet zipped across the sky, and kissed the cheek of his helmet.
“Yeah, well...” he preened a little under the praise. “Tell me something I don't - “
A thousand alarms suddenly started going off in his helmet, and Tony veered to the left when JARVIS started howling at him in concern. A massive metal projectile slammed past where he'd been, impacting the wall of the building behind him. A sickly green smoke spilled out of the projectile, clouding the air around it before it tumbled to the sidewalk. Only problem was, it wasn't the only one zinging through the air at them.
The Hulk roared as one approached him, and full on picked up a car that was parked beside him, swatting two of the missiles out of the air as if it was a flyswatter.
Clint fired several arrows after them, and one more was blown up in the air, though another just went off course.
“Clint! Lousy aim in your old age?” He laughed.
“Fuck you!” Clint flicked him the bird, already tugging more arrows from his quiver.
Everything seemed to be happening at once. Missiles were raining down on them like a hail storm, and Tony was blasting them out of the sky as fast as he could. Captain America was flinging his shield, nearly catching Tony with it, at one point, but while he always got nearly caught by it, Tony had yet to end up as collateral damage for the Cap. The Hulk was still playing missile baseball with the car, and the fucking dog was bouncing about like a panicked thing, knocking into buildings in its fear and doing more damage than the bombs themselves were.
The problem was, everyone's attention was on the dog and the bombs.
No one noticed the man creeping through the chaos up to Captain America.
He was standing behind him before anyone noticed the man in SHIELD gear, and when a panicked JARVIS alerted Tony to it, it was too late for him to alert Steve. The SHIELD uniformed man had something that glinted in the light in hand, and he slammed it into the back of Steve's neck. Tony thought it was a knife, at first, but JARVIS helpfully zoomed in on it to reveal a syringe, and instead of turning and smiting like the Cap normally would, Steve sort of sagged, then collapsed on the concrete.
“ Steve !” Tony shouted, and then he roared, “JARVIS, full power to the Unibeam!”
“Already done, sir,” JARVIS said, without hesitation.
Prudence would tell Tony to not actually blast the SHIELD agent off the face of the planet, but to catch him, so they they could question him. Find out what he'd just done to Steve, save Captain America. But prudence wasn't really a reigning force in Tony's life, and at this particular moment, he sort of just wanted revenge.
Fortunately, JARVIS was a little more level headed than Tony, and when he fired the Unibeam, the computer changed his aim just slightly, and he took out the ground around the traitor SHIELD agent instead, sending him toppling with a crash into the hole that Iron Man had just created. When the man didn't move again, Tony deemed the job good enough, and scrambled to get to Steve's side.
Servos whirring, he landed hard enough to crack the pavement, and gathered the super soldier into his arms, alarmed. “Captain! Steve , you son of a bitch, look at me!”
The Captain's eyes fluttered open, and he blinked up at Tony, clearly confused. “What...”
Around them, the battle was ending, but neither really were paying much attention. Between Hank and the giant dog, most of the missiles had been snatched out of the sky, and those they'd missed, the others had swiftly dealt with. They didn't even catch the part where the dog suddenly began to shrink, much to its confusion, and Hank handed the shrink ray gun back to a handy SHIELD agent and thanked her kindly for the loan of his own technology. The rest of the Avengers had been focusing on the massive animal and the SHIELD Hover Platform appearing and the missiles raining down on them from an undetermined source. They were listening to Hank prattle on about doing a full spectral analysis of whatever the green clouds the missiles were releasing was, and to Jan huffing that there were slightly more important things to think about right now. They were completely unaware that Captain America was down.
SHIELD seemed aware, though, because Nick Fury jogged up to them and demanded, “What happened?”
Steve, still a little groggy, pushed his mask up off his face, and blinked up at Fury. “I'm not sure, sir. To be honest.”
“Well, I am.” Tony snapped, though he kept his mask on. He'd been told he was more intimidating with it on than without. “One of your agents attacked him.”
Fury narrowed his eye. “Excuse me?”
“That seems highly unlikely,” Steve tried. But the argument fell a little flat when he was lying on his back on the pavement, his head cradled on a kneeling Iron Man's thighs, as painful a pillow as that must be.
“He's lying in the crater there.” Tony nodded to the left and smiled grimly under his helmet when Fury went to investigate.
“Why would a SHIELD agent attack me ?” Steve asked, confused.
Tony finally flipped his mask up, exposing his face, dark hair stuck to his forehead with sweat. “I don't know. I don't even know how . Aren't you supposed to be all super soldiery and protected against those sorts of things?”
“This is how they did it.”
Tony looked up, and caught the syringe that Fury tossed him. He looked it over for a moment, not sure he understood, than the genius' head snapped up. “Is this made of adamantium ?”
Fury nodded. “One of the few metals strong enough to pierce his armour,” he confirmed.
He whistled, lowly. “So this wasn't a random attack. He was targeted.”
The director of SHIELD nodded, then held out his hand for the syringe. As Tony handed it back, several SHIELD agents hurried forward to gather up the alleged traitor. He did appear to be mostly in one piece, so that was a start. Steve and Tony watched the form as it was being led away, then Steve murmured, “So that man actually attacked me?”
“He attacked you,” Tony confirmed.
“... Why?” Steve said, at last, as though he couldn't quite imagine the idea.
“I don't know.” Tony said, seriously, eyes still locked on the retreating form of the traitor SHIELD agent. “But we're going to find out.”
Bruce hesitated, looking up from his computer, frowning.
Steve was laying on the examination table that Bruce had set up in his lab, hands resting on his stomach as he shifted a little on the crinkly paper, nervously. When he realized that the doctor was frowning, his eyes widened slightly, and he said, “Is it bad? What is it, Bruce?”
He glanced back at the computer, then shrugged. “Nothing.”
“What do you mean,” Tony demanded, frowning. “Nothing? What's that supposed to mean?”
“It means there's nothing wrong with you.” Bruce motioned at the computer screen. “You're as healthy as a horse. You don't look sick, you don't look injured... There are no necrotic effects, there's no infection that I can see. There's nothing wrong. You are as healthy as you ever were, everything looks normal. I see no implants, no foreign material, nothing that should cause you pain. As far as I can tell, you’re... well, you’re just fine.”
“Huh.” Steve sat up. “So, I can go?”
“No way,” Tony reached up to shove him back down to the bed. Clearly, Steve was letting him push him, because Tony wasn't in the suit, and when he was just regular old Tony and not Iron Man, he was in no way strong enough to be pushing Steve Rogers around. Still, Steve flopped back to the crinkly paper, and frowned as he looked back and forth between Tony and Bruce. Tony took a deep breath, and said, firmly, “You are staying here until we get that spectral analysis done on the syringe itself. Once we figure out what was injected into you, then we'll know what we're dealing with.”
Steve sighed, softly, and rested his hands on his stomach. “Yeah, okay, if you're sure.”
“I am,” he nodded, and looked up at Bruce. “So, are you running the analysis, or is Hank?”
“Hank is,” Bruce said, eyes still on the screen. “I'm telling you, Tony, I have looked over everything I can possibly think of. He's fine, there is nothing wrong with him.”
“Did you check his DNA?” He frowned.
“Yes, I checked his DNA,” Bruce said almost patronizingly, giving him a dull look. “What do you think I am? I’m an expert on gamma radiation and its effects on DNA. Naturally I checked his DNA. It looks like an absolute minefield went off in the middle of it, and none of it makes sense to me. On the other hand, Steve's DNA has always been this way, because I cannot figure out what exactly your father did to his genetic makeup when he made him into a super soldier.”
Tony pursed his lips. “Hm.”
Steve frowned slightly, squirming a little, the paper crinkling up a storm under him. “So... is that good or bad?”
“Indifferent.” Bruce shrugged.
“Hm.” Steve frowned, then said, finally, “If I have to stay here, can I at least sit in a chair somewhere, or something, instead of laying here? Because at the moment, I feel as though I’m about to have an exam of some kind.”
Tony wiggled his eyebrows at him. “You could be having an exam of some kind....”
“Not while I’m here,” Bruce said, rolling his eyes.
Snickering, the billionaire leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest as he grinned. “So we just need to - “
The three men glanced to the door, where Hank Pym stood in the doorway with a clipboard, looking slightly confused as he looked over his results. “I have gone over every test that I could imagine, and a few more that I found other places, just to try any possible thing that could have possibly been in that syringe. And every test I have run brings me back to the exact same result.”
“Which is...?” Tony prompted.
Hank looked up, brows furrowed. “...he injected Steve with saline.”
Steve blinked. “Saline?”
“Well, yeah, but... what was in the saline?” Tony frowned. “Because you can mix anything with saline, like small pox or bubonic plague or nanobots or anything.”
“There's nothing in it.” Hank said, throwing up his hand. “That's the thing. There's nothing in it. It's not even made with heavy water, it's just -- sodium and water, there's nothing in it, it's just regular old saline.”
“So, I’m fine to go?” Steve asked, hopefully.
Bruce shrugged. “I don't see why not.”
Tony frowned. “But the man stabbed you with a syringe. He used the distraction of someone firing missiles at us to run in there and stab you with an adamantium needle. In the neck. Why would he do that if he was just going to give you a harmless injection?”
“Maybe it was a test of our security.” Steve said, finally.
“That's sick.” Tony blinked.
“Yes, but effective,” Hank said at last, frowning. “Diabolically clever, really. Get the Avengers all worked up and worried, but you don't actually do anything harmful, so you can't actually be prosecuted for it. It was a SHIELD agent that injected you, correct? It may have been SHIELD's attempt to test our security.”
Tony's eyes narrowed. “Hm.”
“Well, really, I feel fine, I was injected with salt water, which won't do anything to me, so I can go, right?” Steve asked, eagerly.
“You can go,” Bruce nodded.
Steve swung his legs over the edge of the examination table, and stood, grinning at Tony. “C'mon, Tony, are you coming? I’m sure you've got some mad science idea for making my suit strong enough that even Adamantium needles can't pierce it, so...”
“I do, in fact.” Tony nodded. “Let's go.”
Tony had strange dreams, feverish fears of Steve going through a multitude of bizarre syndromes and things that could be caused by any of the millions of possible things that could have been in the syringe. Maybe this was the reason that he didn't usually sleep like a normal person – because every time he tried, he had the most bizarre nightmares. He jerked awake no less than a dozen times that night, heart beating too fast, breathing ragged, then he'd fall back down into the pillows and finally slip back to sleep again.
His strangest dream, though, was the one where he was sitting on a park bench, whipping a tennis ball across the grass, then laughing when Steve went running, desperately, after it, and returned a moment later with the ball, dropping it in his hand.
Tony would heft the ball, then whip it again, grinning like an idiot as Steve barreled after it, again.
When he woke up, finally, relieved that it wasn't with a jolt, this time, he realized that there was a heavy form laying across his legs.
Confused, Tony shifted forward, slightly, and blinked as he realized that Steve Rogers, of all people, was sprawled across his lap, over the covers, one of his arms curled under his head, eyes closed as he slept, soundly. His blond hair was mussed, falling over his forehead, and his lips were parted just slightly as he breathed. It was probably one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen. Steve was a man that deserved to be painted.
... He should arrange for an artist to paint him.
He didn't really want to wake the pretty super soldier, but Steve was laying rather firmly across his legs, and if he didn't move him, there was absolutely no way he was going to be able to get up and go to the bathroom – and Tony really had to go to the bathroom.
Tony seriously considered, for a moment, waking him with a kiss. But Steve was sort of a man from a different era – the sheer shock of being kissed by a man might kill him, and if he killed Captain America, Fury was going to murder him.
Instead, nudging Steve's shoulder, he said, softly, “Hey, Steve. Wake up.”
Steve's eyes slowly fluttered open, and Tony immediately regretted having not kissed him awake, heteronormative tendencies aside. Because that was gorgeous. Licking his lips, Steve murmured, “Tony? Why are you in my room?”
“Why are you in mine?” He countered, grinning.
The blond frowned, and sat up, looking confused. He looked around, then said, finally, “ Huh .”
“So you weren't planning on coming into my room in the middle of the night to snuggle up with me?” He grinned mischievously. “Cause I wouldn't have complained if you did, but usually when people sneak into my bed, they get under the blankets, instead of laying on my legs.”
Steve flushed, running his hand through his hair. “Sorry, I just... I had a really weird dream.”
“You too?” Tony sighed softly.
“Yeah.” He hesitated, then glanced at Tony. “Yeah, I dreamed that I was running through the halls, trying to find something... and then I just curled up on the end of your bed. Like I was a dog, or something.”
He snickered, and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, standing. “I dreamed I was throwing you tennis balls for fetch.”
Steve shuddered. “We shouldn't have eaten that lasagna before we went to bed.”
“You're probably right,” Tony grinned, and headed for the bathroom, finally. “Gonna grab a shower... you coming?”
Steve blinked at him, wide eyed. “Did you just...?”
“Coming?” Tony said again, grinning.
“...no.” Steve flushed, and stood, heading for the door. “But thanks for the offer, anyway. I’m going to, ah... go take a shower. In my own bathroom.”
“Open invitation, if you change your mind,” Tony called after him, snickering.
Tony hadn't expected Nick Fury to catch his arm as they were leaving the meeting room after yet-another-briefing, and blinked as he hung back, arching his brow at the director of SHIELD. “Finally decided to arrest me, after all?”
“No.” He shook his head, slightly. “The agent you knocked down, the other day, the one that attacked Rogers.”
His eyes widened as he realized what exactly the man was referring to, and shifted slightly closer to him, lowering his voice. “Did you find out why he did it?”
“He claims he doesn't remember.”
Tony snorted. “Yeah, right.”
“Well, if it helps, he doesn't remember much of anything from yesterday. Considering you knocked him into a crater, it could be that he's lying, or it could be the severe concussion that you gave him. So he could actually be telling the truth.” Fury hesitated slightly. “I don't hold out much faith that he is , but...”
“Do you think he was brainwashed?” He narrowed his eyes.
“He could have been.” Fury hesitated. “I don't exactly want to give out information about our agents, obviously, but... well. I’m trusting you to take care of Captain Rogers, aren't I? So take care of him, Stark.”
“Yeah, of course.” He hesitated, then pointed at Fury. “Don't stop questioning that guy. He's lying.”
He snorted. “Thank you for that, Stark.”
“Well, I call it as I see it.” Tony shrugged, then headed out of the room, towards Steve, who was standing near the door of the meeting room, waiting for him.
He didn't really want to tell Steve what, exactly, was going on, because he didn't want to worry the captain. As far as he was concerned, he had a good reason to keep things from Steve. Someone had attacked him, after all. And maybe it would work out just fine, and maybe Steve was going to be safe, but maybe something had been hidden in that water injection, and maybe that traitor SHIELD agent was just playing dumb. “Heya, Steve, awful nice of you to wait for me.” He grinned, looping his arm with Steve's. “Let's walk, shall we?”
“What was that about?” Steve glanced back at Fury, who was standing in the doorway, arms crossed as he watched them leave.
“Nothing important, you know Fury always likes yelling at me.” Tony laughed. “It’s his one bright spot in an otherwise painfully boring day.”
“Well, that's true.”
It was a well over a week since the attack, and for the most part, everyone had sort of managed to shove the incident to the back of their minds. They'd ended up keeping the dog, since it had liked them an awful lot, and now that it was actually shrunk down to normal sizes he was actually quite manageable. A lot of various names had been bandied about, but it was Hulk, after one of the battles that had named it.
He'd come marching into the mansion, grumpy after the particular battle with HYDRA, and the dog had bounced around his feet, barking eagerly.
Hulk had growled, and threatened it, angrily, “Smash!”
Only the dog hadn't yelped or run away, or showed any sign of fear in the slightest – had instead continued to bounce, licked his knee, and barked cheerfully. And Hulk, who had never actually had someone react that way to a threat, scooped the dog up, staring at him as he wiggled and squirmed, then he had yelped when the dog licked his nose.
Having something around that in no way feared him made Hulk more confident, and really, more calm. He'd informed the others, seriously, that the dog was now called 'Smash', and that it was his friend. Watching the Hulk walking around with a dog sitting on his shoulder like a parrot or something was absolutely hilarious, so no one complained about the fact that he'd adopted it, so long as either he or Bruce took care of feeding and walking and cleaning up after it.
Maybe it would teach him a lot. Though, as Clint pointed out one evening, hopefully this wouldn't turn out like the rabbits in a Steinbeck novel.
Despite Smash's presence, though, everyone had mostly put the attack behind them.
It still niggled warningly in the back of Tony's mind, and whenever he had a moment, he dug out his surveillance feed that JARVIS had recorded using the suit, and tried to find any indication of what had happened. Maybe he'd caught something on video that would help explain what had happened. Maybe it would catch an accomplice, or secret other symbols, or... something.
Going over the video about sixteen thousand times told him nothing, though, and even JARVIS finally told him that he was going to cross-eyed if he continued to watch.
It wasn't until they were taking out one of MODOK's ridiculously over-complicated traps that they remembered the attack.
Tony had been ducking through lasers when someone had struck him hard, from the side. Caught off guard – and cursing JARVIS, loudly, inside the helmet, for not having warned him – Tony slammed into the wall, grunting in pain.
“Son of a – fuck!”
“ Tony !” Steve had howled.
The agent that MODOK had apparently sent at Tony was a lot stronger than he'd accounted for, and Tony was concerned that maybe some of the villains had finally started making sure they had minions strong enough to take on people like Iron Man, Thor, Captain America... mid-battle was probably the wrong time for Tony to be pondering the fact that more of his compatriots were super-strong, in comparison to other teams of heroes. That didn't really stop him, though.
Only, before Tony had a chance to actually throw said agent off of him, the agent was ripped away from him, and slammed into the side wall hard enough that there was a crunching of bones.
“Not that I couldn't handle that guy myself, but - “ Tony turned back to face his rescuer, and froze.
He'd expected it to be Captain America.
It was, of all things, a wolf. A massive beast of a wolf that loomed over him, massive fangs bared, bright blue eyes narrowed as it growled, low in its barrel-thick chest, its ears pinned back against its neck.
“... Ho... ly ... shit .” Tony breathed. “I am going to die.”
The wolf's powerful jaws opened, and Tony's eyes widened behind the mask. “ JARVIS! Power up the unibeam!”
“Full power diverted!” JARVIS said.
Before Tony had a chance to fire, though, the massive beast sprung forward, and he got half of the word “fire” out before the wolf knocked him back – and clenched its massive jaws around the barrel of a machine gun that had been pointed at the back of Iron Man's head, and ripped it, and the agent wielding it, right off the ledge. The wolf twisted, and pitched the man and the machine gun down to the factory floor below them.
Tony hesitated. Was the wolf trying to protect him?
Sure, a machine gun slamming into his back probably wouldn't actually pierce the Iron Man armour – it was good damn armour – but it also wouldn't tickle, getting shot in the back of the head. “Are you...” He said, finally. “Are you trying to help me?”
The wolf's tail wagged, slightly, and the beast of an animal licked the side of the Iron Man mask with a wide stripe.
“Whoa, what was - “ Tony froze.
He hadn't noticed before, in the frenzy of action and movement and rush, but there was a torn set of clothing sort of haphazardly wrapped around the wolf's shoulders, like someone had tried to force it into human sized clothing. What was odd about said human clothing, though, was that it was red white and blue, and it looked suspiciously like Captain America's uniform.
Slowly, though, the attack from a week before starting to ring alarm bells in his brain, Tony said, “Steve?”
The wolf shifted closer to him, tail starting to wag slowly.
“ Steve ?” He said, again.
“I think something really weird just happened, Tony.” The wolf said, which was one of the more alarming things that Tony had ever seen in his life. The worst part was that it was Steve's voice coming from the wolf, too. “I think I may have turned into a wolf.”
“Yeah.” Tony said, at last. “I think you have.”
“So, this is new.”
Steve sat in the centre of Bruce's lab, all blond fur and four feet and pointy ears as he looked back and forth between his teammates, who who were all ringed around the edge of the room, watching him. He looked out of place, and not just because he was, at that moment, a giant wolf. He also looked sort of sheepish and awkward, and the more they watched him, the more his big ears drooped.
“How do you feel?” Bruce asked, at last.
Steve shrugged, which was an odd look on a wolf. “Normal, mostly. Only I’m not really sure where my feet are, exactly, and I have a weird urge to scratch.”
“Do you remember turning into a wolf?” Hank asked, curiously. “Did something trigger it?”
“And, more importantly,” Clint spoke up, “Does this just make you the furry version of the Hulk?”
“I doubt it,” Bruce said, shaking his head. “I've tested him for gamma radiation, he's clean. I would imagine, all factors considered, that this was likely caused by that SHIELD agent's attack on him last week.”
“I told you so.” Tony snapped, crossing his arms over his chest.
The door, which hadn't been quite closed, opened a few inches more, and Smash crept into the room, looking around curiously. His toenails clicking on the tile floor, Smash padded to Steve's feet, and sniffed at his paws for a moment before barking and flopping down in front of Steve, apparently unconcerned that a human he knew by scent had become a wolf.
Steve dipped his furry head, and nudged Smash's muzzle with his own, quietly.
“So now, the question becomes,” Hank spoke back up, “How do we get him to turn back into... himself?”
“Well, he's a werewolf, right?” Tony shrugged. “So he should be able to turn himself back.”
Bruce pushed his glasses further up his nose, and let out a long-suffering sigh. “Tony, Steve has not been turned into a werewolf , as those are creatures of legend infected by a bite, and - “
Tony waved at Steve, interrupting him. “Man. Turned into wolf. Werewolf.”
“This isn't quite-” Hank tried.
“I don't care about myths and legends and everything.” Tony shook his head. “I don't care if it's a curse, a bite, a scientific experiment, gamma radiation, a side effect of the super serum, or god himself saying 'Steve should have been born a wolf'. If you are a man and get turned into a wolf, you are a werewolf. All we have to figure out now is if he can turn back.”
“Holy shit !” Clint yowled.
“Whoa, Cap!” Jan agreed, shocked.
It was when Natasha spoke up that the three debating scientists turned to actually look back at Steve. “I think it's safe to say,” she said, “That he can turn back.”
Steve now stood in the middle of the floor, naked and slightly sheepish looking, his hands sort of awkwardly held in front of him, the tattered remains of his uniform hanging around his shoulders. He waved, and said, “Looks like Tony was right.”
“I'm always right,” Tony said, and though he was rather enjoying the view, he tugged off his jacket, offering it to Steve.
The Captain smiled at him, relieved, and sort of slung it around himself like a skirt. “Thanks.”
“That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen,” Jan declared. “You moved and changed and... creepy. That was totally creepy.”
Hank crossed his arms, tapping his arm with his pen. “So Steve apparently possesses the ability to shape-shift between human and wolf forms. Is it at will, Steve?”
He shrugged. “I sort of didn't mean to do it either time.”
Smash barked, displeased with Steve in his human form, apparently, and headed over to Bruce, sitting at his feet. He did always love Bruce and Hulk best.
Bruce frowned. “Well, what were you thinking when you turned into a wolf the first time?”
Steve furrowed his brows as he considered that, and Tony was hit with the bizarre desire to kiss right between those intense brows. Down boy . “I'm not sure I was, exactly, I just knew that MODOK's agent was trying to kill Tony, and I just... acted.”
Clint made a gagging sound.
Jan, to no one's surprise, swatted him and said, “Shut up, that's adorable!”
Tony was not flushing like a school girl, thank you very much. “Right, so you went all protective alpha wolf mode, and... you went all protective alpha wolf. Well, I think it's probably safe to say that this whole... thing is because of that attack, so you should probably avoid biting people, Cap, or they're gonna get themselves infected.”
“Who's to say that a bite is the cause of infection, though?” Hank pointed out. “Mythologically speaking, sure, but who's to say that the cause of transfer isn't through sneezing?”
Steve, awkwardly, chose that exact moment to sneeze.
Everyone rounded on him, and he flushed, having the good sense to at least look embarrassed when he said, “Excuse me?”
Tony leaned back, and called, “JARVIS?”
“Yes, sir?” The computer spoke up, calmly.
“Did you catch the video of Steve's turning back into... well, Steve?”
“I did, in fact.”
“Okay, you and you.” Tony turned to point at Bruce and Hank. “You start analyzing his bloodwork, those videos, and your spectral analysis of the syringe. Clearly it wasn't inert if it turned him into a goddamn werewolf. Steve... you find some pants, then meet me in my lab. We're going to figure out how to make you trigger the change.”
Steve sat on the edge of one of Tony's work benches, dressed only in a pair of tan slacks that he said he didn't mind if they got destroyed, and watched Tony pace.
Tony was sort-of talking to himself, frowning as he tried to puzzle out exactly what their first step should be. He spun on his heel to face Steve properly, then said, “So you turned into a wolf the first time because someone was trying to kill me, right? Well, what did you, you know, feel like at the time?”
Steve frowned. “Angry. Protective. Like you were one of my troops that was in danger. I did what I would always do, under the circumstances. I acted.”
He considered that, scratching at his goatee and not caring how much like an evil genius that made him look. Finally, he shrugged, said, “Nothing for it, then,” and realized he'd just have to be put into mortal danger again, at least until Steve had more control over this whole presto-chango-now I’m a wolf thing, and headed over to his desk. Opening the top left drawer, he pulled out a handgun that was actually one of Natasha's. She had a terrible habit of having them stashed in a thousand hidden places in his house, and he'd threatened to keep any of them he found. This was, in fact, one of them.
“Tony?” Steve asked, warily.
“Look, if you can only turn into a wolf when I’m in mortal danger, then I guess I need to be in mortal danger.” Tony clicked the safety off, and set the barrel against his temple. “One... Two...”
“No!” Steve threw himself off the edge of the table, running barefoot towards him.
Only, as Steve ran, Steve changed . His shoulder blades snapped back like they'd gone out of their sockets, and he shifted so that he hit the floor with hands and feet instead of just feet, only he was changing with each passing moment, his feet growing until only his toes touched the floor, those pants shredding as his already muscular legs thickened and a bristled tail swung behind him. As he ran, that beautiful face lengthened and widened, and within mere seconds of Tony lifting the gun, the massive wolf slammed his paws into his shoulders, and Tony went down. Steve's fangs closed around his wrist, hard enough to hurt but not hard enough to cause permanent damage, and Steve shook his head, making Tony drop the gun. It clattered away on the tile floor, and they went down hard in a tangle of limbs and fur. Tony let out a pained grunt as the sheer weight of Steve-the-wolf knocked the air out of him.
He lay there for a long few minutes, just trying to breathe as Steve took to apparently grooming his face and neck with that big, broad tongue of his.
“Well.” Tony said at last, and Steve stopped, just sticking his big cold nose against Tony's throat. “I didn't quite expect that .”
“What were you thinking ?!” Steve demanded, and Tony had to bite his lip to keep from laughing at how much like a bark that sounded. “I don't care if you thought it was necessary to test your theory, you could have killed yourself!”
Tony stretched his arm out, fingers just brushing the gun, and finally picking it up. “No, I couldn't.”
“Tony, don't you even - “ The massive wolf started, looking absolutely livid.
He held up the gun, and pulled the trigger.
“No ammo,” he said, then tossed it away again.
“Do not scare me like that again,” Steve ordered, firmly, and dropped his shaggy head heavily to Tony's shoulder.
“Hey, I got you to turn into a wolf, didn't I?” He smirked, and ran his fingers over Steve's blondish fur.
Steve lifted his head, looking down at Tony with eyes that looked as intelligent and as blue as they ever had. “That feels... weird.”
“Good weird, or bad weird?”
“Just... weird .”
Tony smirked slightly, and decided to test a theory, scratching at the underside of Steve's jaw. His friend whined for a moment, so Tony moved his attention, until his fingers found a spot just behind the other's left ear, and Steve's eyes fell half lidded. Behind him, there was a steady thump-thump-thump as Steve's tail began to hit the floor as he wagged it. “Heh,” he said, at last. “I found your sweet spot.”
Steve huffed, not impressed, then halted, abruptly.
“What is it?” Tony asked, still scratching Steve's ear even though the wagging had ceased.
“Tony. You're bleeding.”
“Hm?” He blinked, and glanced at his arm. Sure enough, where Steve had grabbed his arm to get rid of the gun, he was bleeding, but it was really only a slow ooze, a mere trace left behind by barely-there cuts. “So I am. Well, it's not as though I was shot or anything, they're just little scrapes, they'll be gone in no time. It’s no big deal.”
“Tony,” Steve said, looking very intense for a wolf. “You're bleeding because I bit you.”
“Yeah, better hope you don't have rabies, or--”
Steve watched Tony intently, seeing the exact moment of dawning recognition and horror. “Yeah.”
“Well then.” Tony cleared his throat, trying not to think about the unpleasant lurching in his chest. “Let's hope that biting isn't how the curse is spread then, huh?”
“I'm sorry,” Steve said, sounding almost heartbroken, and quietly ran the flat of his tongue over the minor wounds, soothing them quietly, almost grooming, trying to soothe the cuts.
“You know, if you weren't in wolf form right now, this would be really creepy.” Tony informed him.
Steve laughed, sounding almost like barking, again, and an almost evil gleam shone in his eyes.
“Oh no you don't.” Tony said, eyes widening.
Laughing all the more for his protests, Steve set to licking all over Tony's face and head. His hair began sticking straight up from the attention, and Tony squawked, struggling under him. “ Steve !”
He tapped their noses lightly together, then as quickly as he had changed the last time, he seemed to shrink, to even back out again, to become (so smoothly that Tony actually thought he must be hallucinating,) a man again.
Panting softly from the exertion of trying to get free, Tony found himself suddenly with a very naked, very human Steve pinning him to the ground. Steve sort of smiled at him, sheepishly, and then he moved to stand.
“Wait.” Tony caught his arm, and licked his lips, almost nervously. Only Tony Stark was never nervous, of course.
“Tony?” Steve asked, and wasn't that one simple word a loaded question?
“Yeah,” he said, and decided to not answer fully, and instead just arched up to press his lips firmly to Steve's. Heteronormative standards be damned, if the Cap had a freak out, well, dammit, he'd have a freak out. But Tony was pretty damn sure he wasn't going to get a chance like this again.
Steve wasn't stock-still for a long moment, then the muscular blond relaxed, and Tony's heart may have skipped a beat when he started kissing back.
Tony had to admit that this was
the first time he'd woken up on the floor of his lab.
He would have to say, however, that it was the first time he'd woken up to discover that he was sort of curled around Steve Rogers, who was sleeping naked on that same floor, hands curled under his head as he dreamed, silently.
Tony let out a long breath, stunned and not in the slightest bit bothered – okay, mostly he was elated, because he had a naked Steve Rogers sleeping beside him! - and when Tony stood, slightly unsteadily, it was his own clothes he was stepping over. He probably ought to get JARVIS to delete the surveillance from last night. Maybe save a copy somewhere safe, first, for later. After all, he'd had sex in the lab before, but it wasn't every day it was with the innocent-as-the-driven-snow, gorgeous-as-all-fuck Steve Rogers! He could wake him up, maybe they could go for a second round... no. Steve looked like an angel, sleeping, it wouldn't be fair to wake him up.
He bent, to kiss Steve's temple, then halted, abruptly.
Something wasn't right.
Something really wasn't right.
For one thing, he seemed to have four legs. This was definitely unusual, as Tony normally had two , but yeah, there they were, one-two-three-four, four legs. And a tail.
Oh god, a tail.
Oh god, he'd turned into a wolf.
Tony say back on his haunches with a thump, and decided to forgo that whole let-sleeping-Steves-lie thing, and reached down to butt Steve's head with his. “Steve. Wake up, Steve.”
“M'sleeping, Tony.” He mumbled.
“Yeah, I know. Wake up.”
Steve very slowly opened his eyes, just peering up at him blearily for a moment, then his eyes jerked open in shock. “Tony! You're – oh no , I infected you!”
“Hey, if this is all the side effects I get from getting to bang Captain America, I can deal,” Tony laughed, trying to joke it off as if it were no big deal. “There's just one thing that's really sort of worrying me. Uh... do I still have the arc reactor?”
Steve nodded, and ran his fingers over Tony's black-furred chest to touch the glass panel. He hadn't been kidding, that did feel weird. “Yeah. It's still there.”
“Good.” He said, feeling better already.
Steve grinned back.
“Right, so, ah... JARVIS?”
“I dunno if you noticed, but I’m not quite myself this morning.”
“As a matter of fact, sir,” JARVIS said, calmly, “I had noticed. At nearly oh-four-hundred hours, you became a wolf. I monitored your condition to ensure your continued well-being.”
“That!” Tony shifted up onto all four feet again, trying to ignore that this damnable tail of his was starting to actually wag. “I wanted to check on the arc reactor. You know, make sure it's still actually working properly. I don't want to turn into a wolf only to realize that it means the beginning of open season on hearts for shrapnel.”
“I assure you, sir, that this was the first thing I checked.” JARVIS said, calmly. “I can assure that all systems are operating as normal.”
“Well, that's a relief,” Tony said, relieved.
Steve chose that moment to start scratching his side, right in front of his hind leg, and he sort of melted, tail wagging even harder.
“Son of a bitch, that's awesome,” he groaned.
“Found your sweet spot,” Steve teased, and just laughed when Tony butted him with his head, grumbling.
There was a knock on the glass door of his workshop, and they looked up to see Pepper standing on the other side of the glass wall, looking absolutely shocked. Steve waved a hand, to wave sheepishly, and the woman rapidly punched her entry code in, then burst into the room. “What is going on ?” Pepper gasped.
“Welcome to the new and furrier me,” Tony shrugged.
“ Tony ?!” She gaped at him.
“Yeah. Hey. Apparently there's a touch of werewolf-ism going around.” Tony leaned on Steve's arm, heavily, licking at the blond's ear after a moment.
“You're a dog!”
“ Wolf ,” he corrected, quickly. “And presumably, I can turn back into a man again. I mean, Steve's successfully done the switch from human to wolf and back again twice, so if he can do it, naturally, I think I can do that, too. Shit, I hope I can.”
Pepper drew a deep, steadying breath, then said, “So, you're werewolves.”
“Yeah.” Steve said, sheepishly.
“And is that why you're naked, then, or does that have more to do with why Tony's are also spread across the floor?” Pepper arched a brow.
“Oh. Oh !” Steve gasped, and snagged Tony's shirt off of the floor, dropping it in his lap. “I'm really sorry about that, Pepper...”
She waved off his concern, but did lift her head to call, “JARVIS?”
“Yes, Miss Potts?”
“Could you please delete - “
“Don't delete it!” Tony protested quickly, flushed.
She arched a brow at him, then shook her head slightly, and amended, “Correction, do not delete last night's surveillance, please simply lock those files so they are only accessible by Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. They last thing we need are for those videos to appear online.”
Tony laughed, his tail thumping against Steve's ass as he wagged it. “Good thinking, Pep. This is why you get paid the big bucks.”
Pepper scoffed. “Hm. This does explain a lot, though.”
Steve frowned, brows furrowed. “What do you mean?”
She turned slightly, nodding at the TV that hung on the wall, and said, “JARVIS, can you pull up that SHIELD file you showed me this morning?”
Files flared on the screen, photos and memos and reports. In the corner was a video, and when Pepper told him to play it, a local news report started playing, telling the story of a young woman that had woken up one morning as a wolf. However, the news report said, it wasn't limited to just one case. At a local preschool, dozens of children were suddenly turning into wolf pups, and when they were returning home, seemed to be spreading the infection to their parents.
According to the news, the CDC, the FDA, even the FBI and the NSA were investigating, but they had no idea what was happening. It was, apparently, a plague of werewolves that was sweeping New York. “I don't have SHIELD clearance, naturally, to figure out what's going on, but JARVIS found this file – I’m not sure I want to know how – and now I know why he thought I should see this.”
“Shit.” Tony muttered, then suddenly felt very strange. It was like he had been hanging onto the side of a pool, easy as you please, legs in the water. Suddenly, that wall tilted at a strange angle, and he was grabbing at wet tiles, trying to hold his place, and then he lost his grip and slid into the water.
This strange sensation – that was the only way he could think to describe it – had also 'dropped' him back into human form, and he felt the strange sensation of his muscles changing and growing, bones lengthening and shifting, as he became the Tony Stark that was famous – or really infamous – again. It didn't hurt , though, which probably surprised him more than anything else. It didn't hurt, it just felt strange . He was beginning to think everything about this whole damn incident was going to be strange .
“Tony,” Pepper sighed, closing her eyes, “You're naked.”
Tony shrugged. “ Still not the worst thing you've ever caught me doing.”
Fury stood at the head of the table, looking quite serious as he did. The Avengers didn't usually attend a lot of meetings at SHIELD headquarters, yet there they were, ringed around a government meeting table instead of their own, watching Fury. Finally, he spoke, though he sounded almost tired.
“As you know, we have an epidemic on our hands, the likes of which we've never seen before. The CDC is seriously considering a quarantine on the city of New York in an attempt to stop its spread.”
“Do you think that's actually a realistic situation?” Natasha asked, frowning slightly.
“Not in the slightest.” Fury shook his head. “I don't believe that a quarantine would achieve anything other than possibly causing widespread panic. However, the military and the President are threatening to make that call for us.”
“And they're not planning on asking for SHIELD's opinion?” Clint asked, looking incredulous.
“In this particular instance... no.” Fury scowled, brow furrowing over his eye patch. “They think that we are compromised, in this instance, because of the attack on Captain Rogers.”
Steve straightened up, startled. “Because of me, sir?”
Fury took a deep breath, then said, “A video feed of your transformation into a wolf, in your effort to save Iron Man, has ended up on the Internet. We're fairly certain that MODOK was behind that particular viral leak, but... in either case, the media – and the CDC – have begun referring to you as Patient Zero.”
He looked horrified. “ Am I Patient Zero?”
Tony sat up straighter in his seat, leaning over to tap Steve's arm, looking slightly angry. “You're not Patient Zero. The only one you've bitten is me, and I haven't spread the curse to anyone else.”
The table had fallen absolutely silent, and finally, Fury said, “Steve bit you?”
He hesitated, clearing his throat, and shrugged. “Yeah, okay, so Steve bit me. That's the sort of thing that can happen when two men are, you know, performing experiments on how lycanthropy works. Shut up. It's nothing.”
“Stark.” Fury said, lowly, in a slightly threatening tone, “Have you been affected?”
Tony sighed heavily, and threw up his hands. “Maybe a little. But I’m not going to show you right now, thanks, because this suit was very expensive and I am not in the mood to have another custom fit.”
The director let out a long-suffering sigh, then said, “You are aware that we may be forced to quarantine you both until such time as a cure is found?”
“At least quarantine us together.” Tony grinned. “Isolation is so dull.”
“Sir, even infected, I can still do my job,” Steve said, quickly, looking alarmed by the suggestion. “I can't stop just because I’m – well, sick, or whatever this is!”
“This reminds me of something.” Thor frowned slightly.
Fury slapped his hand down on the top of his chair. “We need answers, not this reminds me of something !”
“So lock Tony and Steve up in that Big House of yours, or something,” Clint scoffed. “Let them be all werewolf-y where they can't hurt anyone.”
“Locking them away is hardly the answer!” Hank argued, frowning.
“Segregation would only make things worse,” Bruce agreed with the other scientist, slapping his palm on the table. “This isn't tuberculosis or bubonic plague, this is something else entirely. What is your plan, take everyone that's infected with this plague and pitch them out to a different planet?”
Clint shrugged. “There are eight other realms, right? Thor could just toss them somewhere else!”
“You are not going to throw us onto some other world !” Steve yelled, clenching his fists. “We are part of your team , not just--”
“Fuck!” Tony snapped, and his chair clattered back from the table, drawing silence around the table as everyone turned to see Tony the wolf, black and sleek, sitting at the table, glowering. There were a few shreds of what had once been an expensive Italian suit hanging onto his shoulders, and Steve reached out, helpfully, to tug the remains off. “Rather than trying to figure out how to like, control the spread of this, first, maybe we should try and figure out how to control it. Because I would like to be able to control how and when I turn into a giant fucking wolf, so that I can stop ruining my goddamn clothes every time I get pissed off!”
Jan snickered, and reached over to pat his shoulder. “You make an awesome wolf, though, Tony.”
“Thanks, Jan,” he muttered.
Thor slammed his fist on the table, and pointed at Tony in his wolf form. “Yes! You remind me greatly of my nephew, Fenrir!”
“Well, good to know,” Tony frowned, which was a very odd look on a wolf.
“Wait,” Bruce looked at Thor, frowning slightly. “You say your nephew, Fenrir. I’m a little rusty on my Norse mythology, but isn't Fenrir both a werewolf and Loki's son?”
“Yes,” Thor nodded.
Fury sat in his seat, finally, and leaned forward, narrowing his eye at Thor. “Do you think it's possible that this is your brother's doing?”
He mulled over that idea. “While I wouldn't want to think that my brother was capable of this sort of thing... yes. I think it's likely that Loki could have had a hand in this. After all, he does have a son that is a werewolf, so it is possible that he could have chosen to, ah, spread his son's affliction.”
“Well, it ain't like Loki's never tried to curse us with terrible things before, or something.” Clint rolled his eyes. “If it's Loki, I bet that this is all one huge plot of distract us so that he can take over the world. Again. Hell, ain't we 'made to be ruled' or whatever? Yeah, if he's got a kid that's a werewolf, I wouldn't be surprised if he figured he could rule a world of werewolves as easily as a world of humans.”
“Why start with Steve , though?” Jan asked, brows furrowed.
“Why not?” Bruce pointed out.
She lifted a hand, as though about to argue that point, then hesitated, and lowered her hand. “I never thought of it that way before.”
“Okay, so we're assuming it's Loki.” Natasha frowned. “What if it's not?”
“That does make things significantly more complicated,” Fury said at last, looking sternly around the table at them. “We have two members of the Avengers as wolves, and the infection is spreading rapidly through the general population. We need to keep this locked down , people, and we need to find out how to stop this.”
“SHIELD is discriminating against werewolves, now?” Tony huffed slightly, tail slapping the floor. “How very un-PC of you.”
“SHIELD discriminates against mad gods using unholy powers to curse people.” Fury said, dangerously lowly. “So yes, we discriminate against werewolves .”
“Have a care,” Thor growled. “This is my brother of which you speak.”
“Your brother is a madman who cursed your team !” Fury snarled.
“Whoa, whoa, hold on.” Steve stood up, holding up his hands. “Let's all just calm---”
Lightning crackled overhead, and Thor slammed Mjolnir on the table. Between the two, the table was definitely the weaker, and it crumpled under the force of the legendary hammer. “Bite your tongue!” He roared, pointing at the SHIELD director, jaw tightly clenched. “He is my brother still!”
“We really don't need to be fighting over---” Steve tried again.
“Who are you kidding? This is hilarious ,” Clint snickered, leaning back in his seat, feet up on the table.
“Thor!” Hank tried to interrupt. “I am as much for forgiveness as you are, but we need to remember that Loki is a criminal, and in the past has done many things that he needs to answer for!”
“Forgiveness? Forgiveness ?!” Thor pointed at the scientist with his hammer. “ Your form of forgiveness would be locking my brother in the cell in the cracks of space to rot and wither. Forgiveness , pah!”
“Hey!” Jan flew between them. “Don't do anything you're going to regret.”
“Oh, I would not regret in the slightest.” Thor rumbled.
“Damn, all I need is some popcorn.” Clint lamented, glancing at Natasha, who sat by his side, frowning slightly. “It's like being cageside at the UFC.”
“If the UFC wore capes,” she agreed.
“That is an awesome idea, I am so suggesting that,” he grinned, almost mischievously.
Fury and Hank stood more or less side by side as they argued the point with Thor, though Pym and Fury's arguments weren't quite the same – though they both favoured incarceration, Hank thought Loki could be rehabilitated, and Fury just really wanted to punish him. They didn't actually seem to be resolving anything, though, and voices just kept getting louder and louder as Steve edged closer to Tony, leaning on the jet-black wolf's massive shoulder. “I don't think this is going to end well.”
“You said it,” Tony muttered, then pressed his cold nose into Steve's jaw. “Wanna just get out of here?”
“Tony...” Steve sighed.
“C'mon.” He lapped at the other's neck, teasingly. “You know you wanna howl at the moon, or... whatever it is werewolves do when they're having sex. Are there any werewolf pick up lines? I think this is an untapped market, all things considered, I really ought to - “
He was interrupted – Steve would say thankfully – by a roar that shook the glass windows and had been known to make lesser men wet their pants. It was actually a familiar sound.
The alarming thing was... it was no longer coming from a familiar person .
Well, not exactly, anyway.
There was a wolf standing where Bruce had been a moment before, shoulders down, ears back, teeth bared, fur on end. But, to call this a wolf was like saying that Chihuahuas and Great Danes are both dogs, because this was a massive beast of a wolf, towering over all of them, big enough that its tail hit the ceiling when it waved it, stiff and warning.
Also, this wolf was green .
The fighting ceased immediately, and as a group, they stared up at the newly discovered werewolf Hulk, stunned.
Finally, Tony interrupted the silence to say, “The Hulk is a werewolf. Your argument is invalid.”
“What are you working on?”
Tony didn't look up, nor did he stop working, even when Steve set his large hands on his shoulders and started rubbing his sore muscles. “Remember what I was working on a couple weeks ago, for the Hulk? Robot pants that would Hulk out with him?”
“Yes, I remember. I thought it was a little odd , but...”
“I think I’m offended.” Tony smirked, but just set down his screwdriver and reached for his Stark tablet, pulling up some kind of design spec. “I modified the design,” he said, then flicked the blueprint off of the tablet.
It suddenly hung in the air, instead, created by holograms, and Tony spread his hands to make the design larger.
“It's the Iron Man suit,” Steve said, not understanding.
“Ah, it looks like the Iron Man suit,” Tony grinned, then waved at the hologram as he said, “JARVIS, trigger the change.”
“At once, sir,” his computer answered, and the drawing began to shift. As smooth as flowing water, effortlessly from one stage to the next, it changed. It wasn't jerky, like one might expect from a transforming robot, but almost organic as it changed, until the design hovering in front of them would accommodate, instead of a man, a massive wolf.
“Taa daa!” Tony grinned. “Iron Wolf!”
“You're insane.” Steve breathed, gaping at the sketch.
“You mispronounced awesome .”
“Tony...” Steve tightened his grip on the other man's shoulders, brows furrowed. “This... this would be reckless, dangerous, it would show a complete lack of self-preservation---”
“And this would be different from every day, how?”
“I don't want you getting hurt!”
Tony outright laughed, twisting to face Steve properly, facing him as he caught him by the arms. “Steve. It's sweet and all, that you want to be all alpha-male-protective-boyfriend, or whatever this is, but, if I didn't do idiotic things, I wouldn’t be Tony Stark, and that, quite frankly, would be a tragedy to not only you but to the world as a whole. If you want to actually continue sleeping with Tony Stark, not... perfect boyfriend man, which quite frankly is someone I will never be, then you will let me be the suicidally-brave reckless superhero idiot that I’ve always been.”
Steve's brows were furrowed again, and this time, Tony didn't resist the urge. He tugged the blond closer, and kissed that little space between his brows.
“You and I, we both do what we do for our own reasons, Cap.” Tony said, still holding the other's wrists so that Steve had to look him in the eye. “But we still have to do them.”
Steve hesitated, then nodded, reluctantly. “But,” he said, as he straightened back up. “You have to promise to eat and sleep.”
“What? No.” Tony snorted, twisting to face his design again. “No time for that, I have to get this suit up and running, and fully operational before someone decides to – ooh.”
Pressed against his back, Steve ran his hands under Tony's shirt, stroking his stomach as he breathed in his ear. “I'll make it worth your while.”
Tony licked his lips, then countered, “I'll come to bed in a couple hours?”
“Bullshit,” Steve smirked slightly, and hugged him tighter, back against his chest. “You say that now, but you'll get distracted again, and forget. Besides... you've been awake for three days already. Come to bed.”
“An hour?” He tried to negotiate.
Steve nipped at his earlobe, teasingly, and purred, “Come to bed, Tony.”
“Yeah, okay, I’m convinced.” He said, breathlessly, and stood, then grabbed for his Stark Pad. “Just let me - “
Steve tugged him up against his chest, and gave Tony a slow, burning scorcher of a kiss that left him clutching at the super soldier's arms by the end, until Steve finally broke that kiss to breathe, “ Now , Tony.”
“Yeah,” he agreed, licking his lips again. “Now.”
Steve leaned out of the shower, fumbling on the bathroom counter for his ID badge. Finally finding it, he cleared his throat, then activated the communicator to ask, “What's going on?”
“Bit of a witch hunt, actually.” Natasha's voice answered him. “Uninfected people are trying to round up the infected.”
His eyes widened. “Like that mutant registry they tried to do a few years back?”
“I'd say more like... Nazi Germany.”
Steve scowled, then said, “Be there in a minute.”
“While you're at it, think there's any chance you can swing by the lab and grab Tony? He's not answering, idiot's probably passed out working on another of his useless suits again...”
He cleared his throat. “Yeah, no problem.”
“All right, see you there. One minute.” Natasha said, then the ID line went quiet.
Setting his card back down on the counter, Steve leaned back into the shower itself, twitching the curtain shut as he looked down at Tony, who was smirking where he knelt on the floor. “One minute?”
“Tony...” Steve sighed, flushed. “We have to get going, we're needed - “
“In a minute, yeah. I heard.” He grinned. “Or forty eight seconds, now. Fine. Challenge accepted.”
“Tony – oh !”
“What do you see?” Thor called up into the tree.
Clint, who had somehow managed to perch himself in branches that normally wouldn't support a grown man's weight, glanced down at the blond god below. “It don't look good.”
Jan fluttered towards them, her gossamer wings a blur as she alighted on Thor's shoulder. “They're just sort of gathering people in the middle of the field, it doesn't look organized at all. How did everyone get the idea all at once to bring everyone infected to Central Park?”
“Because some genius posted it on Facebook,” Iron Man said, as he landed with a thump beside them, and let down Captain America, who he'd been carrying. “I wish I could say I was kidding.”
Ant-Man headed closer, at a jog. “No one's hurt anyone, but from the sounds of some of the things people are saying...”
“You don't think they'd actually hurt them, would they?” Jan looked horrified.
“I've seen enough of humans doing exactly that when they're afraid to know that yes, they could,” Steve said, seriously, adjusting his cowl a little, then nodded at the others. “We better go try and nip this in the bud.”
“Oh yeah,” Hawkeye muttered, as he swung out of his perch, in the tree, and landed lightly on the ground. “Let's bring a bunch of werewolves towards the angry anti-werewolf mob.”
“Let's try not to tell everyone that we have werewolf team members, yeah? I mean, if they've seen the news, they know, but seriously, let's try not to tell everyone.” Tony said, sarcastically, then his boot jets flared and he took to the sky. “Let's go.”
“You know he's probably got a point.” Natasha hesitated, then glanced at Bruce. “Maybe you should stay back.”
“I can handle it,” he said, frowning.
Steve hesitated, then doubled back to set a hand on Bruce's shoulder. “Bruce... you're a good man, I don't want to see you get hurt, and quite frankly, I don't think you want to see any of them get hurt. I agree with Natasha. I think you should hang back. Just for a moment, all right?”
Bruce sighed, but nodded, reluctantly.
“You're a good man,” Steve said again, then jogged to catch up with the others.
Thor clapped Bruce's shoulder with a heavy hand, and nodded at his friend before darting after Steve towards the group.
As they neared the little gathering of people, they began to realize more and more what Natasha had meant when she said it was like a witch hunt, or Nazi Germany. There was a group of men, women and children pressed together, even complete strangers clinging at each other's arms, seeking even just the basic human comfort in the midst of a strange and scary situation. Their faces fairly screamed fear as they looked around warily, some of them trying desperately to look brave, some not even trying. The men and women that gathered around them looked as fearful as they did – but they had decided to fight through their terror with anger, and they were there to try and fight their demons off with violence. There didn't really seem to be any organization, it was like an amateurish flash mob that had gathered in some attempt at unity, fear their only consolidating force.
So far, no one in the centre seemed to have been harmed, but that wasn't really comforting.
“So,” Iron Man called, as he swung over the bulk of the gathering of ‘leaders’ of the group, dropping himself down to the ground as he tilted his head slightly to the side. Inquisitive. “What would you call this, guys? Idiots en masse ?”
“This is none of your business,” one of the gathered said, frowning. “This isn't something that needs superheroes , thanks.”
“Well then, you probably shouldn't have gathered a couple hundred people in the middle of Strawberry Fields against their will, should you have?” Captain America asked, as he jogged up towards them, frowning. He managed to look much taller and more impressive than any of the others, all star-spangled intimidation. “How about we let these people go, and then we talk about this.”
One of the others laughed, a sort of desperate, hysterical sound. “ Let them go ?! They're infected! And they won't even quarantine them! They could spread it at any time!”
“So you gather them all in one place and surround them so that you can get yourself even more exposed to the infection?” Hawkeye smirked, and though Steve had said that they weren't supposed to be threatening, exactly, his bow was in hand. Just in case. “Yeah, that sounds like a brilliant idea.”
A few of the people on the perimeter of the circle looked back and forth at each other, hesitating.
“You didn't even think of that?” Hawkeye arched a brow. “Well then. I stand corrected, you totally did have brilliant ideas.”
“We are going to contain this.” One of the men said, seriously. “If the CDC won't contain this, then I guess we have to. We'll step in and take care of our own .”
“Oh yeah, great idea.” Tony muttered, looking around the little gathering. There were weapons, in those that were trying to contain. JARVIS was helpfully pointing out each one – some improvised, like baseball bats and tire irons, and some that were significantly more traditional, knives and even a few guns. Most of the people with guns had them shoved in their belts or under their jackets, but they still had them. The problem was, were these HYDRA agents, or MODOK's men, or Doom-bots, or something , he would have a plan of attack. The problem was, they were just humans , scared people who didn't know what to do – so they did anything they thought might help.
Maybe they could disarm them, maybe they could get past them... maybe SHIELD could send in some riot police. After all, the Avengers were used to fighting villains and gods with weapons, not just regular scared people .
He glanced at his lover – was Steve supposed to be his boyfriend, now? Awkward – and he was still arguing with a man that Tony assumed had named himself a de facto leader. Made sense, JARVIS was quick to tell him that this man had a large gauge handgun shoved in his waist band. “JARVIS,” he said, keeping the sound just inside the helmet and not broadcasting through the speakers. “Have you already contacted SHIELD about the containment?”
“Of course, sir.” JARVIS answered immediately.
“Run some specs on getting the people out of here, in case they don't get - “
Someone shouted, and suddenly there seemed to be a frenzy of movement on the ground. Tony's head immediately snapped to the gathering, trying to figure out what was going on. One of the men in the centre of the group had shoved some of their captors aside, and dozens of children were bolting for freedom, breaking through the group. It was desperate – and it was foolish , there were so many people there. But they had a reason for fleeing, Tony couldn't really blame them.
But he was already powering up the arc cannons in his palms, because he already knew that this was not going to end well.
“ No! ” Natasha shouted, and there was a crackle of electricity – very nice, Widow – but then gunfire started, and one of the children running desperately across the grass cried out, one leg going suddenly out from under her before she tumbled to the lawn.
Steve let out a roar of anger that didn't sound quite human.
“Son of a bitch ,” Tony gasped, and began firing at the ground in front of the captors, not trying to kill them, just trying to knock them down--- but things were already too far gone. There was suddenly a flurry of movement and activity as the infected tried to escape and their captors fought to contain them. Jan was zipping through the activity, trying to knock them aside, but there was just a flurry of motion, activity everywhere. It was desperate and panicked.
Tony wasn't even surprised when a massive green wolf suddenly barreled into the group, knocking dozens aside with nothing more than a swing of his massive head, but he was actually more surprised than he expected when suddenly people in the crowd started to turn.
Well, they were captives because they were also werewolves.
He probably should have seen that coming.
Now, the Avengers weren't just fighting the captors, trying to keep them from harming the wolves, they were also trying to keep a group of panicked, terrified werewolves from killing the people that had captured them in the first place.
A bullet pinged off of Iron Man's shoulder, and he twisted to look back at the crowd where it had come from. “ Seriously? ”
Another bullet ricocheted off of his chest, then another hit just to the left of his arc reactor, and that did make him reel back, startled. He didn't really think he'd be seriously injured if they actually did manage to hit it, but fuck, he also didn't think it would tickle .
There was another roar of fury that sounded an awful lot like Steve, then a massive blond wolf leaped onto a man wielding a shot gun.
“ Steve !” Tony called, alarmed, and his jets flared, propelling him forward.
There was blood on Steve's muzzle, when he lifted his head, and Tony drew in a sharp breath, shocked. Captain America, of all people... no , he couldn't....
Tony's eyes flicked to the gun man – the man who wasn't bleeding. He was lying on his back, hands up, eyes wide, gun in broken pieces beside him, but he wasn't bleeding, his throat hadn't been ripped out. Steve's eyes flicked down at the man, then he huffed and stepped off of the man's shoulders, apparently unimpressed.
The man chose to take that opportunity to run, which was probably smart.
Iron Man landed beside Captain America, alarmed, and demanded, “Where is the blood from, Steve? Whose blood is that?”
“Mine.” Steve shook his furred head, and stepped closer to him, butting Tony's side with his head. “The gun went off, when I tried to disarm him. Not used to not having my shield. Or opposable thumbs.”
“Shit... lemme see...” There was a whirring of the servos as Tony dropped to his knees, keeping the faceplate down so that he could depend on JARVIS to search for the injuries. Metal-gloved fingers parted thick blond fur as he tried to find the wound itself, so consumed that he didn't give much attention to the rest of the chaos around them. That was the whole point of having team mates, wasn't it, that the teammates could take care of things while you desperately try to make sure that your boyfriend isn't bleeding to death? “God, that looks painful.”
“I don't really feel it right now.” Steve said, and abruptly tugged Iron Man closer to him with a massive paw, as though trying to hide the man within his fur. It was funny, that as humans, there was certainly a size difference between the two of them, but not nearly as much of a size difference as it was when only one of them was a wolf.
There was a good reason that the uninfected were terrified of the werewolves. They were intimidatingly massive and powerful .
Tony sighed, and let his face plate shift back up so that he could bury his face in Steve's fur for a moment, then said, firmly, “I am not a sappy bastard like this, Steve. Just... remember that, all right? I’m only letting you be all stupidly cuddly because I’m glad you're not dead. All right?”
Steve licked a wide stripe up the side of Tony's face and said, “Sure, Tony.”
“ Now you're just getting sickeningly sappy.” He groaned.
“You two are kind of sickening.” Natasha agreed, and they both looked up to realize that the woman was standing in front of them, hands on her hips as she looked down at them. “Did you even manage to notice that we're not in mortal danger anymore?”
“I'm pretty sure we weren't in mortal danger to begin with, actually,” Tony shrugged, leaning back against Steve's furry chest, a little disappointed, in a strangely perverse sort of way, that the armour modifications he'd performed to make the chest armour with the star stay intact when Steve shifted had actually worked. Sure, there was still plenty of fur for Tony to snuggle into – not that he snuggled into Steve's fur, dammit, of course he didn't do anything that ridiculous – but it sort of took away from the warmth. “We're bad-ass, remember, Tash?”
“Well, there has been some collateral damage...” She sighed softly, crossing her arms over her chest, then glanced behind them. They followed her gaze, watching the SHIELD agents as they arrested a number of people that had been knocked down by either the Avengers or the formerly captured werewolves.
“Anybody dead?” Steve asked, voice cracking slightly.
“No,” she shook her head, and Tony could feel Steve's chest move behind him as the wolf sighed in relief. “No one is dead, but... there are some fairly substantial injuries.”
“Well, the public will definitely know that there are werewolves in the Avengers now,” Jan said as she alighted on Natasha's shoulder, beaming at the red head as she actually crawled under her hair, leaning on the other woman's neck. It was sort of adorable – in an oddly intimate sort of way. “Though it's a shame no one got to see the great Iron Wolf! I was totally excited for that!”
“I wasn't .” Steve said, with a low growl to his voice.
Tony sighed, rolling his eyes. “I keep telling you, the armour is perfect, Steve, relax. I’ll be fine. I’ll be better than fine. I’ll be kickass.”
“Yeah!” Jan wriggled, delighted. “Right, Tash?”
“Sure,” Natasha shrugged, then laughed when that made the other woman yelp in surprise and grab at the edge of the other's collar to keep from toppling. Of course, she had wings , so it wasn't like she was going to actually fall anywhere, but still. “Come on, we'd better get back to the mansion before SHIELD starts insisting on debrief.”
“God, let's go.” Tony scrambled to his feet, then yelped when Steve butted him with his head again. “Oi, what was that for?”
“Behave,” Steve grumbled, but he didn't shift back, just padded beside him, tail wagging slightly.
Tony was on all four feet as he balanced along the edge of a narrow balance beam, trying to find a way to make himself just as maneuverable in this form as he was when he was actually human . Only there was the whole thing where he'd been human for his entire life, and this was all new.
Still, it was useful to discover that he could use his tail as a rudder, to steady himself. He was just starting to experiment with using his ears, too, when he smelled something new in the room.
Tony was pretty sure he was never going to get used to this whole 'smelling things for information' bit.
His head snapped up, and he looked up at the top corner of the room, startled, frowning. It was just shadows – no , it wasn't just shadows, there was someone in that dark corner. Despite himself, Tony found himself hunching his shoulders, hackles going up as he instinctively tried to make himself bigger, fangs bared.
And then he realized that he knew who it was, and his ears slowly rose from where they'd been pressed back against his head. “Long time no see, T'Challa.”
“You've changed.” The other said, then dropped out of the corner of the room, landing soundlessly on the floor, light as ever. Cat like.
Cat-like enough that Tony had the sudden insane desire to chase him – but he quickly shoved that feeling down. “Last time I saw you, you had two legs. And no tail.”
“Yeah, well... I’m growing as a person.” Tony hesitated slightly. “As a nonhuman person, anyway.”
“I heard.” The other pushed the featureless mask he wore off of his face, letting it dangle from his hands as he faced Tony-the-wolf face to face. “It's why I’m here.”
“What, decided that werewolves were more of a threat than the Skrull?” Tony smirked, and sat back on his hind legs, considering their sometimes teammate. “Because if you're trying to fight us, I’m not sure we're just going to roll over and take it.”
“Actually, I was more concerned with who had turned you into beasts in the first place.” T'Challa settled himself across from Tony, legs folded neatly.
“We're thinking Loki.”
“That would make the most sense,” he agreed, nodding as he considered the other man, thoughtfully. “You look quite different, as a wolf. It's not a bad look on you, Tony Stark.”
He dipped his head. “I've been told I always look good.”
“Yes, I’ve heard that before, as well.” T'Challa sounded less impressed by that argument, but the other man smirked slightly as he considered him. “You seem more calm than you were when I left.”
“Calm?” He tilted his head to the side, considering him. “Well, that's new.”
“I imagine that Steve is a calming influence on you.”
Tony looked at him, suspicious. “What do you mean by that ?”
“I mean, Tony, that I have been monitoring the situation for days. Steve is a calming influence on you.” T'Challa looked as calm as ever, but there was a little spark in his eyes that made Tony realize exactly how mischievous that statement was meant to be.
“You've been spying on us again,” he said, with a heavy sigh as he realized what he'd meant.
“Naturally. I was hardly about to throw myself into the fray again without forewarning.” T'Challa shrugged, hands resting on his ankles. “Frankly, I am surprised that no one noticed that I was about, until now, especially considering how many of you have become animals.”
“Hey... I can turn back to human.” Tony grumbled.
“As I have seen,” he dipped his head. “Though I must admit that I was... surprised by your current entanglement with Steve. I rather thought you didn't like to maintain relationships.”
“I don't,” he frowned, tail flicking back and forth on the floor.
“Have you been affected by the animal hormones?” T'Challa mused aloud, frowning slightly as he considered that possibility. “Perhaps you're thinking like an animal, so you're behaving like an animal. Perhaps, Tony Stark, you are now more wolf than man.”
Tony narrowed his eyes at T'Challa. “Are you trying to imply that I’m in heat , or something?”
“I was trying to imply that perhaps you have found yourself mated to Steve Rogers.” The other said, calmly, smirking slightly. Tony really didn't like that smirk. “After all, don't your wolves mate for life?”
“Ha ha,” he muttered, grumbling.
“I admit, I’m not terribly familiar with the phenomenon of lycanthropy,” T'Challa said, and Tony was pretty sure he was fighting a grin. “They're not something discussed much in my country, but I know enough of the myth to know that you are quite different from those stories. After all, you change at will, rather than at the full moon... and you seem as ever, yourself.” He dipped his head. “Some of the myths that I have read seem to indicate that many werewolves are just ravaging beasts, or that they become men with limited intelligence. You seem the same Tony Stark that you ever were before – albeit, with a tail.”
“I feel like myself.” Tony hesitated. “Mostly.”
“I don't really wanna talk about it,” he muttered, and stood again, padding around the edges of the room, his tail flicking as he did, not wagging it, really. It was just jerking, sort of a nervous habit, perhaps.
“And yet, it is apparently eating you up from the inside.” T'Challa said calmly.
Tony sighed, heavily, and glanced over at the other man. “Look, you don't know what this is like. I mean, sure, you dress up like a cat and run around slashing at people, but you're not actually turning into an animal. It's confusing. It's like I’m still the same man, but I’m not, at the same time. And stupid... Steve ... is still being his perfect innocent self and treating me like I’m made of glass.”
“I think he loves you.”
“Oh god, don't say that.” Tony groaned, letting his head hang forward. “You're supposed to be a hardass prince, why are you saying things like that ?”
“Because it's true.” T'Challa said, shaking his head. “If Loki did this,” he said, abruptly switching tracks on Tony, which was actually a relief. Rapid topic changes, Tony was good at. Talking about things like love and whether or not there was some of it there with Steve, that was far more difficult. “Why?”
“I don't know,” Tony frowned, as much as he didn't like to admit that.
“Norse myths say that Loki had a son that was a wolf... is the Asgardian Loki the same as those myths?”
“According to Thor, yeah. His brother does in fact have a son named Fenrir. He's a werewolf.” Tony nodded, flopping back down, laying on his stomach as he considered the other man. His tail flicked against the wall as he did, resting his head on his paws. “And Thor's pretty sure that it's his brother doing. Thinks that Loki might have cursed us with his son's... affliction.”
T'Challa frowned, brows furrowed. “Fenrir is actually cursed, then? It's not just something he was born with?”
Tony's ears perked up slightly as he considered that. “JARVIS?”
“I heard. I’m currently looking for an answer, but I am unsure if the Norse myths about Loki and what actually happened will coincide.” The computer said, sounding entirely droll.
“Hey, it's worth a shot, right? Just... check.”
The two men sat in silence for a few long minutes, waiting, then abruptly JARVIS interrupted the stillness with the information. “Fenrir is one of Loki's three children by a giantess. He is foretold to be the one who will kill Odin, Thor and Loki's father, in Ragnarok, and so the gods bound him. According to the myths, he is bound, and will not be freed until the end of days. He can be both wolf and man, but as a wolf, he bit off the hand of the god Tyr. Or, as I said, so say the myths.”
“Perhaps we should ask Thor?” T'Challa suggested.
“Yeah, he'd know.” Tony nodded, and stood, padding towards the elevator.
“Are you going as a wolf?” The other asked, rising up onto his own feet, padding silently after Tony – quieter than him, too, but that was probably mostly because his toes weren't clicking on the tiles when he walked. “Or will you actually be a man?”
“What, you want to see me walking around naked?” Tony snickered, and stepped into the elevator, then hesitated as the other stepped beside him, silently.
“What is it?”
“Can you press the button? I’m currently rocking the lack of opposable thumbs thing.”
T'Challa snorted, but leaned forward to press the button.
“I wondered how long it would take someone to find me,” Tony smirked slightly, not moving from where he sat. He was quite comfortable, he didn't really care if someone else cared that there was a wolf curled up on the deck of the pool on his roof. It was his roof, who cared if he was there? It was night, and though he could hear the city moving on outside of the walls of the Avengers mansion, it was quiet here for once. Besides, Smash was curled up against his side, and that was sort of comfortable, and for once, no one was attacking anything and no one was demanding anything.
Tomorrow, SHIELD would want to debrief them about the disaster that had been the ‘rescue’ in the park, they would have to finally answer the calls Pepper had been trying to deflect from the CDC, and Thor was going to try to confront his brother.
Tonight, Tony wanted to forget about all this bullshit.
Familiar boots scuffed on the tiles as the other stepped closer, then Steve lowered himself down to sit beside him, and slumped over to rest heavily on Tony's shoulder.
“That good, huh?” Tony glanced up at him.
“Yeah,” Steve muttered, and closed his eyes as he rested his head on the top of Tony's, scratching almost idly at the underside of Tony's jaw.
For his part, Tony was content to sigh softly and let him scratch.
They sat in silence for a very long time, until finally even Smash apparently got tired of the stillness, and stood up, shaking himself all over before licking both of their faces and heading off back into the mansion itself, probably to try and find Bruce.
“Apparently we're boring,” Tony laughed softly, shifting a little to try and get Steve closer.
The blond complied with his unspoken request, curling into the curve of Tony's spine so that he was all but laying on him, head pillowed on the other's fur. Carding his fingers through the other's black fur, he murmured, “What do we do now, Tony?”
“About what?” He asked.
“Everything.” Steve looked up at him, meeting his eyes. “About the werewolves and the fact that apparently the whole city has lost its mind... and Loki. And us.”
“Is there an us, now?” Tony asked, trying to keep his voice light.
“Of course there's an - “ He hesitated, sitting up so that he could look down at Tony. “...there is an us, isn't there?”
“I guess that depends on a lot of things.” The wolf frowned slightly, deliberately looking anywhere but at Steve. “There is the whole point where we're both werewolves now, and... we're both men, and...”
“Has that seemed like an issue so far?” Steve demanded, voice tight.
Tony hesitated. “Surprisingly, no.”
“Then don't use it as an excuse.” He said, firmly. “I know I may originally come from a different time, and things were different then, but that doesn't change how I feel about you and about us, all right?”
He nodded, then his brows furrowed, and Tony said, “Wait, how you feel about me?”
Steve stopped, eyes widening. “Uh, I didn't...”
“You said how you feel about me!” Tony straightened up, and tried to look stern and serious and completely disinterested, because he wasn't supposed to be interested in a relationship or emotion or anything, really, beyond the fact that they were having awesome sex. Except that, at that moment, being a werewolf betrayed him, because his tail was thumping against the floor as he wagged it. “What kind of feelings are we talking about, Steve?”
“This is hard to talk about when you're a wolf.” Steve sighed, closing his eyes.
“Well, unless you want me turning back into a human and being naked while having this conversation...” Tony drawled.
“I'm not certain you being naked would make it any easier.”
“Then deal with me being a wolf, Cap, and tell me what you're feeling.” Tony nudged his elbow with his nose, smirking slightly. “If you want there to be an 'us', then you better get to talking, big guy.”
“That's blackmail.” Steve sighed, then shifted to kick off his boots.
“I don't remember ever saying that I wasn't going to blackmail you,” Tony pointed out, watching him, and leaned back when Steve stood. “Oi, where are you going? I will knock you into the pool if you try to run away, big guy, don't even think I’m kidding.”
“I'm not running.” The blond said, rolling his eyes, and began unbuttoning his shirt.
“You're getting naked . Ah, well, I can certainly get behind that.” Tony shifted to sit up properly, his tail thump-thump-thumping against the tiles as he watched him.
“Do you want me to talk about this, or not?” Steve sighed, flushed as he folded up his shirt and dropped it on one of the deck chairs, then shed his slacks as well, shaking them out and folding them in three neat moves before he set them on top of his shirt. He hesitated for a moment, then toed off his socks and dropped his boxers in one quick move. It wasn't as though Tony hadn't seen him naked before – he'd seen him naked and lost in the throes of passion, just standing there naked was nothing. But this wasn't in Tony's private lab, this was out on the roof of the mansion, and technically anyone could just walk by and see.
Still, within moments, it was a moot point anyway, because Steve shuddered as the change started coming over him. A moment later, he lowered himself back down beside Tony again, all blond and canine.
“Sick of destroying your clothes?” Tony smirked slightly.
“As a matter of fact, yes.” Steve squirmed up close towards him, but instead of using Tony as a pillow, he shifted so that he was the one curled around Tony, now. He seemed to like taking advantage of being physically larger than the other man, acting as though he was the protector here. “I know it may be easier for you to just buy a new set every time you destroy them, but I don't like doing that. It's hard enough to find ones that I like, much less ones that I feel like I can afford.”
“Eh, I just get around that by being naked whenever possible.” Tony shrugged, but let the other wolf pull him closer. It was kind of comforting. “So. You're supposed to be telling me about feelings.”
Steve sighed, heavily, gently licking Tony's ears for a moment, then just tugged him closer with one powerful foreleg, so that they were curled tightly together. “I want there to be an us, Tony, because I never want to leave you alone. Never again.”
“What, you want there to be an us because you think I’ll get lonely ?” Tony huffed.
“No, I want to never leave you alone again because I couldn't stand the thought of not being here with you anymore.” Steve sighed, and then he murmured, “Can we just leave it at that?”
“Nope... I think there's something you're not saying.” Tony said, cheekily.
Steve sighed, making Tony's fur ruffle with the air of it. “Look, what do you want me to say? That I love you? All right, Tony, I do , but that really isn't saying enough, is it? If I say it like a wolf, and say that I want you to be my mate , maybe that gets closer; but we haven't always been wolves – and maybe we won't always be wolves.”
Tony wasn't sure if he should be focusing on ' Steve loves me ' or ' we might not always be wolves ', so he shoved the bubbling surprise and giddiness down and focused on the latter. “I don't think I wanna go back to just being human.”
The other lifted his head, startled. “What?”
“I don't think I wanna go back to just being human.” Tony said, again. “I'm sorta getting into this whole 'being a werewolf' thing. I mean, look at my Iron Wolf suit. That thing is awesome. It would just go to being a museum piece if we go back to being human.”
“You don't want to be normal again because of your suit ?!” Steve demanded. He sounded incredulous.
“No, the suit is just awesome.” Tony rolled onto his side, pressing at Steve's chest with his paws, testing. “I feel freer .”
“Freer?” He repeated.
“I don't know how else to explain it,” he huffed slightly, and surged up, catching Steve's ear in his teeth and tugging, lightly. It wasn't meant to wound, just to annoy, and Steve seemed to play along when he barked and rolled over until they were darting and nipping and playing on those tiles, not fighting or arguing or worrying about the stress of saving the world around them. They were just having fun, tongues lolling as they played like puppies, chasing each other's tails, barking cheerfully.
It was silly, it was goofy, it was childish – and it was fun . Finally, though, Tony flopped bonelessly on the tiles, panting as he looked up at his lover, tail thumping lazily on the floor. “Don't you feel it too?”
Steve flopped beside him, and started quietly grooming Tony's ears. “Yeah, I feel it too.”
“I mean, normally we're all stress and work, and trying to save the fucking world, and sometimes I don't seem to do anything but lock myself away in the lab for days, or get bounced off of walls by the Skrull, and---”
“I know.” Steve set his paw on Tony's muzzle, stilling him.
“Oi, none of that...” He tugged his muzzle back to himself, but he was laughing as he did, more relaxed than perhaps Tony Stark had been in years.
“I don't want you to go back to that,” he murmured, quietly, considering his dark companion. “I don't want you to go back to locking yourself away and avoiding all of us and... I don't want that, Tony. I don't ever want that again. I want to keep this Tony, the one that plays, and relaxes, and actually sleeps at night.”
“I only slept last night because you pinned me to the bed.” He snorted.
“But it was night time , and you slept .” Steve said, softly, considering him seriously. “That means a lot, Tony.”
“All right, all right, we'll say it means a lot.” He waved it off, shaking his head, ears sort of flopping as he did. It was acceptable, he didn't think it was a big deal, but if Steve wanted to be happy about it... fine. At the moment, he cared that Steve was happy. God, he was turning into such a sappy little asshole, wasn't he? Well, that just wouldn't do. “So, how's about this... in case Thor talking to Loki tomorrow gets us turned back into all-the-time humans... wanna try some wolf sex?”
“Tony!” Steve squawked.
He cackled, and leapt on top of his lover, bowling them both over and almost knocking them both into the pool.
They all went with Thor, when he went to try and confront his brother. It wasn't that they thought he couldn't challenge his brother himself, or that Loki might be more likely to come with all of them there – because really, he was more likely to come if it was just Thor – but there was sort of the concern that Loki was just going to turn his brother into a wolf, and that would be that.
So Tony sat down with JARVIS, and every single bit of history that SHIELD had in their databases, and searched.
And it was Tony's work that led them to the massive building they were in, now, in the elevator going up dozens of floors. It probably looked a little ridiculous, actually, to outsiders – a group of superheroes, dressed in full super-hero-ing gear, standing calmly in the elevator, listening to the awful music as it played cheerful little ridiculous tunes at them. Not quite making eye contact as though they were just normal commuters, trying to get through their lives with as little unwanted human contact as possible. Hulk took up a far larger space than anyone else, and he sort of hummed along with the song on the radio as they rode upwards. This was made even more awkward by the fact that whenever Bruce ‘Hulked Out’, he appeared as a wolf now, and he barely fit in the room, with them standing all around the edges around him. The rest of them, fortunately, were human – if Steve and Tony were wolves alongside him, there was no way they all would have fit in the elevator.
But then, with a ding, the door opened, and they were let out into the hallway outside the pent house apartment. Thor didn't actually knock, not exactly, he just slammed Mjolnir into the door, which crumpled inwards under his strike.
The Avengers weren't actually surprised to discover that Loki was standing in the room the door opened into, hands folded lazily behind his back as he arched a brow at them. “Well. I’ll be expecting you to pay for my door, Thor, if you don't mind. You could have knocked.”
“We could have,” Tony agreed. “We didn't.”
“Yes, I noticed.” Loki smirked, and shifted his hands to rest on his hips, considering them. “Well, you're all looking well and trespassing... what can I help my least favourite enemies with, then?”
“You cursed my friends!” Thor roared, angrily, and outside the floor to ceiling windows, lightning crackled across the sky.
“I have done no such thing.” Loki said, though his smirk faded.
“Right, so everyone started all spontaneously turned into wolves because it was... random chance?” Clint arched a brow, crossing his arms, tapping his fingers on the body of his bow. “When you have a werewolf son? Yeah, I’m not sure any of us believe that, you egomaniac godly asshole.”
“I have not cursed you.” The god of mischief said again, sharply. He clearly didn't like being confronted on this.
“Right.” Natasha arched a brow. “Who wants to start the torturing?”
Jan raised a hand. “Oooh! I could!”
“ Jan !” Hank said, sharply, sounding shocked.
She lowered her hand, pouting. “I was just trying to be helpful...”
Loki scoffed at them, stepping back to pour himself a glass of a clear liquid out of a heavy glass carafe, as though they weren't worth facing them. The Avengers weren't a threat. Sipping at his glass, he finally turned to face them, leaning on the bar as he considered the group, almost thoughtfully. “You idiots really believe I was the one who did this.”
“Of course we think you did it,” Steve said, hands on his hips. “Who else is likely to do this, Loki? Who else is powerful enough to turn a large chunk of New York into werewolves ?”
“You do make a good point, and I’m pleased to hear that you think so highly of my skills.” The god smirked, and pointed at his brother. “But you, of all of this miserable planet's people should know that I am unlikely to enchant others with the same damnable thing that my own son was cursed with. As you might remember, I was rather displeased when Fenrir was found to be under a spell. I don't really like reliving it.”
“You lie , brother.” Thor said, tightly.
“I have not lied about a thing .” Loki snapped, brows furrowed.
“Just take the spell back,” Hank started, but apparently all of this talking was really just too much for Hulk, who let out a roar of frustration, and reared up onto his back feet, slamming his paws heavily on the floor, making the whole apartment shake. The giant wolf Hulk then bolted forward towards Loki, who disappeared moments before the Hulk managed to crush his massive jaws on his head, and reappeared a few paces away. Hulk scrambled to stop himself before he hit the window, clawed paws scratching on the floor as he fought for purchase, then finally caught his footing and reared about, howling as he rushed right back at Loki.
Thor roared, bolting forward to stop his own friend from attacking his brother, when Loki roared, “ Enough !”
And then Loki --- changed .
His clothing didn't seem to rip off of him like it ripped off of everyone else, but instead seemed to shift with him, melting into a different sort of armour as he changed, a large golden collar hanging around his neck, green cape cascading over his midnight-black furred shoulders, helmet reshaping itself to fit a wolf head, horns curling up between his pointy ears. His lips pulled back, curling over fangs as he growled at them, and snapped, “I did not curse you. I was cursed myself .”
“...this meeting has been less helpful than I expected it to be.” Tony admitted, finally, hands on his hips as he considered the mess.
Loki very reluctantly sat on the grass of the park, glowering at them. They had tried to pick neutral ground, somewhere that was neither Avengers nor Loki's territory, so that neither of them would have more power over the other, or some bullshit like that. It sounded good, at least.
But there they sat, Loki considering the men and women that stood, glowering right back at him, as if there was some kind of truce.
There wasn't, as it was, but they were all cursed, so maybe it was better to try and work together.
“Look, who would it have been?” Natasha said, finally, hands on her hips. “A large chunk of the population of this city is seriously affected by a magical spell that makes them turn into werewolves, and now we discover that you are also affected. So. Loki. Who could have cursed everyone?”
He huffed slightly, as though finding her line of questioning just insulting, then shrugged one furred shoulder. “Could be my son.”
“Fenrir is not the type to curse others...” Thor frowned.
“Hn. And here I thought you would deem him naturally the cause, because he is my son.” Loki sneered.
“Just call your kid here, Loki.” Tony sighed, hands on his hips. “Just call 'im, get him to come down here, and then we'll all know, won't we?”
“And what right have you to demand this of me?” Loki snapped.
“Don't test me right now.” He said, tightly – then chose to shift, himself. Tony felt a little unbalanced, with Loki being all in wolf form, and him being human, so he may as well shift, to match. Besides, this was a bit of a chance to show off the Iron Wolf suit, which he was rather damn proud of, and it shifted along with him, whirring and humming as he dropped to all four feet, the blue light of the arc reactor glowing bright in the centre of his chest.
Steve sighed, softly, frustrated with Tony's showboating. But his hand still drifted to rest on Tony's armoured shoulder.
“Well. I am actually impressed.” Loki considered Tony for a moment, then turned to look up at his brother. “Well? Are you going to change too, now, to try and intimidate me, all muscle and fur?”
“I am not cursed.” Thor said, finally.
“Well then.” He hummed. “Well, I suppose that I ought to call my son, then.”
“Do that.” Clint agreed with him, arms still crossed as he glowered at him. Tony suspected that Clint was pissy because he wasn't cursed. He figured the archer was jealous.
“Do not get above yourself, Hawk.” Loki said, expression level and stern, then he stood, and said, as easily as though he were ordering a coffee, “Fenrir, if you can hear me, your uncle is demanding your presence. Naturally, if you wish to ignore the great golden idiot, I couldn't blame you, but all the same, he is insisting .”
“I am here, father.”
The whole group spun, gaping at the man that stood behind them, long dark brown hair pulled back into a sleek ponytail. He wore a tan overcoat, the collar of a blue dress shirt just showing through the gaps, and smiled faintly at them.
“Fenrir.” Loki said, though he sounded shocked. The god , shocked?
“You are a man,” Thor said, equally stunned.
“Was he a woman, before?” Jan asked, curiously, peering over Hank's shoulder as her wings flickered, considering the very attractive man that stood before them.
“He was a wolf.” Loki said, padding forward across the grass, the Avengers stepping to the side to allow the god – even though he was their enemy – to pass, to reach his son. Pausing before the man, Loki said, quietly, “Fenrir, what have you done? What magic have you wrought?”
“Your friend the sorceress, she offered me an option.” Fenrir said, his voice light as he looked over the Avengers, thoughtfully, as though he'd never seen anything like them before. His eyes landed on Thor, and he smiled softly at him, then turned his eyes back to Loki. “A trade. She would take my curse from me, so that I would finally be free of it... And the curse would then be passed on to others in my stead.”
“So she cursed the entire city?” Natasha demanded.
Fenrir hesitated. “That... that is unfortunate, but... I do not want to go back.”
“The whole planet is cursed now, isn't it?” Steve said, voice tight. “You know what this curse is like. You can't let... you can't let them all suffer just because it leaves you free.”
“Perhaps you couldn't.” Fenrir said, voice tight. “ I have suffered long enough, for the sins of others.”
“Wait, hold on.” There was a clicking of machinery, then Tony stood on two feet again as he stepped up beside Steve, the mask of his suit flicking back to expose his face. “Does your curse have to go to everyone ? Or can it be limited again? Say... say someone else takes it on for you. Could we cure the rest of the city, so long as someone takes it for you?”
The wolf god hesitated, and then dipped his head. “Likely.”
“Then I’ll take it.”
“ Tony !” Steve gasped.
“I'll take it.” Tony said again, firmly, shaking his head. “I'll take the curse. Hell, I’ve kind of been liking this whole werewolf thing. So I’ll take it. I’ll be a werewolf, and you can be a human.”
“No, that's not - “ Steve tried.
“I'll take the curse.” He said, firmly, in a voice that brooked no arguments.
Loki barked in laughter, shaking his head. “This is godly curse, Stark. There is no way that some mere man could contain it for all of time. You are only mortal .”
“Well.” Tony frowned, then glanced at Fenrir. “You've suffered this for thousands of years, right?”
“I have,” Fenrir agreed.
“So... this past month or so, that you haven't been cursed... that's been pretty good, right?”
The wolf-god smiled faintly, and dipped his head. “It has been a true joy.”
“But it's weird, right? I mean, you were a wolf for thousands of years, you'd probably sort of miss it if you were never to turn back into a wolf, right?” Tony grinned, stepping closer to the god.
“That may be true.” He agreed, finally.
“So forty years free, I mean... that might not be much, in the grand scheme of thousands of years, but... it's pretty great, right?” The genius suggested. “So how's about this... I take the curse. For... forty years, or I die, whichever comes first. Then you get it back, and you'll have had a nice break.”
“Forty years, Stark, is the blink of an eye, for a god.” Loki said, reminding him that he was, in fact, still there.
“Eighty years.” Steve said, stepping forward, his hand tight on Tony's shoulder. “I'll take it for forty.”
“Less than a century ?” Loki scoffed.
“How's a hundred and twenty?” Jan said, cheerfully, perching on Steve's shoulder, cheekily. “I think it'd be kinda cool to be a werewolf, I’ll take on the curse for a bit, too. Well, forty years is a bit, I guess. Anyway, yeah, sure, I’ll take it on.”
“Jan, you don't have to - “ Steve tried.
“Shut up, I want to.” She grinned. “Besides, a wasp wolf? I so want to know what that would be like!”
“It would be fascinating,” Hank agreed, suddenly, and suggested, “One hundred and sixty?”
“Two hundred.” Natasha said, voice clipped.
“Two hundred twenty.” Clint grinned. When the others turned to look at him for a moment, brows arched, he grumbled, “What, figured twenty years was still – all right, whatever, fine , two hundred forty. Assholes.”
“You don't have to offer.” Natasha pointed out, crossing her own arms.
“As if, the only human in a gang of werewolf Avengers? Yeah, that'd be lame.” He shook his head. “Two forty, offer stands.”
The Hulk barked, and whether he was offering years or just agreeing with the sentiment, no one was really sure – but it was Thor that stepped forward, interrupting their discussion, and rested his hands on his nephew's shoulders. “Would you take this offer, Fenrir?”
He hesitated, then said, softly, “I would be a fool not to, would I not? It is a cruel curse... I should never have allowed her to curse the people of this city, just so that I could be free. I will take their offer.”
“Then I too, will offer years.” Thor smiled at his nephew. “Let us clear you of your curse.”
Tony was quiet as he lay on the balcony outside of his bedroom. Silver moonlight poured down on him, cool and light, like liquid mercury drifting over him. He wasn't sleeping, which he should be doing, but at least he wasn't in the lab working on another thousand projects. At least that was something, wasn't it?
“You're not in bed,” Steve said, quietly, feet light on the floor as he walked up beside Tony.
“I'm thinking .”
“Well, that's dangerous,” he said, and settled beside him, heavily, sighing softly. “Why are you out here, if you're thinking?”
Tony glanced over at him, arms folded behind his head. “Did we make the right choice?”
“With what, the curse thing?” Steve crossed his arms on his knees, considering that as he stared out over the little yard. “You saw the news, people are cured, everyone is back to normal. And Fenrir isn't likely to be trying to make any trades again. I think we've done the right thing.”
“Even though you're a werewolf, now?” Tony asked.
“I've been a werewolf for a month now. Turns out I’m pretty used to it. After all, didn't the Sorceress use me as her patient zero?” Steve reached over to idly run his fingers through Tony's dark hair, quietly. “I still think we've done the right thing. Besides... we're both werewolves, right?”
“So we are.” He agreed, then narrowed his eyes slightly, looking up at Steve. “Wait, are you trying to suggest that this is good because now I won't leave you for someone that's not a werewolf?”
Steve smirked slightly. “The thought had crossed my mind.”
“Oh, you are such a little...” Tony laughed, and shifted as he rolled up onto his feet, leaping on Steve as he licked his face. “It's a good thing you're my mate, you brat.”
Steve just laughed.