Epilogue: The King's Speech
Bruce looked resigned but reasonably optimistic.
"Seriously, who decided that it was a good idea to play out The Wizard of Oz in Jersey?" asked Tony, looking over the information SHIELD had sent them. The creativity of some of it was admirable. It was just too bad about the batshit insanity.
"We'll probably be back in time for tonight's movie," said Natasha.
"Yeah, I can't believe we're actually finishing the Oscar project," said Clint.
"What is the final movie?" asked Thor.
"Argo," said Clint, frowning. "Unfortunately, it's from the 'Mel Gibson takes a dump on historical accuracy' school of filmmaking."
"Also takes a dump on international relations," said Bruce. "Apparently it's a good movie, but don't mention it to Canadians, Brits or New Zealanders. They weren't amused."
"I heard he thanked them at the Oscars, though," said Clint. "So everything's fine, right?"
"Yeah, because what everyone will remember will be the fact that he thanked them. Not that the entire movie ignored everything they did."
"All historical movies have to take some liberties," said Natasha dismissively.
"That is merely weak storytelling," said Thor. "My father could speak of the dullest training session and turn it into an adventure with no untruths." He suddenly looked rather sad. "My brother, on the other hand... well, they did not call him God of Lies for nothing."
"I'm tired of the history movies, anyway," said Tony. "I mean, the Oscar project was supposed to make Cap acclimate to the twentieth century, wasn't it? And the last two were King's Speech, World War II again, and The Artist from the silent movie era."
"Well, maybe it was comfortingly familiar," said Clint. "Right Cap?"
"I didn't actually see too many silent movies," said Steve. "They were expensive. Though I do remember that speech."
"Really?" asked Natasha.
"Yeah. We listened to it on the radio, me and Bucky. I had no idea he'd had any kind of a stuttering problem. I just thought he was being serious."
"So, you been all nostalgic for home the last few days, then?" asked Clint, and Tony abruptly wanted to kick himself - damn it, there he'd gone and done it again, been completely oblivious to something that had probably been fairly important to Steve...
But Steve was shaking his head. "No, not really," he said. "They're just movies. Besides, this is home, now," he said, and smiled at Tony.
Tony felt warmth spread all over him as he smiled back. God damn. He probably looked like a lovestruck idiot, but who cared. He leaned over and snatched a quick kiss as the Quinjet landed.
They all scrambled out, and Fury strode over.
"Have to tell you, you're not one minute too early," he said. "This is a pain in the ass. I'm almost ready to go back on the run and tell the WSC they can have their damn agency back."
"That bad?" asked Steve.
"Mostly just embarrassing to be beaten back by children's book characters. We can probably get in, but it'll take us a lot longer than it'll take you."
Tony nodded, glancing over the wooded estate with its slightly medieval-castle-like mansion. "All right, so, we need somebody up on that roof--"
"Actually, Stark," said Fury. "What do you think about what we talked about yesterday?"
Tony blinked. "What, right now?"
"No time like the present."
Tony turned and looked at Steve. Steve frowning and looking out at the trees, apparently trying to spot the wolves with collars skulking about, and - and Fury was right. He felt his instinctive worry turn to certainty and an odd sort of pride. "Yeah, why not?"
"Captain?" said Fury.
"Want to take over leadership of the Avengers again?"
Steve blinked. "What? Right now?" He immediately turned to Tony, blue eyes wide, and Tony couldn't help laughing at his rather stunned look.
"Why not right now, babe?" he asked, reaching out to take Steve's hand. "Half of what I decide is your suggestions anyway."
"Stark's not a natural team leader, Captain," said Fury. "He'd much rather be off blasting things on his own than trying to deploy team-members."
"C'mon, Cap, time's a wasting," said Clint. "If you're looking for votes, you got mine, 'cause I gotta tell you, Tony may be a genius but he's kind of a douchebag as a tactician. Forgets all about me half the time."
"Thanks, Katniss," said Tony. "See if I give you a lift anywhere again."
"Truth hurts," said Clint with an unapologetic grin. "As one non-team-playing dickhead to another."
Steve gulped and looked over the estate. "You do know you're talking about my fiance, right?" he muttered, his eyes narrowing at one of the towers of the castle.
"Fiance?" Fury exclaimed, and Tony grinned at him and waggled his eyebrows. Fury rolled his eye. "How the fuck is this my life," he muttered.
"Babe, you got this," said Tony, and Steve bit his lip. He turned to Tony and for a brief moment Tony could see all his insecurity, all his uncertainty - everything Steve had trusted him to see during the past several months.
"You think so?" he asked, his voice low. "I haven't been--"
Tony shook his head to stop him, thinking of everything Steve had been through, all of his strength and determination and stubborn perseverance. "You're the bravest man I know." He brought Steve's hand to his lips and kissed his fingers quickly. "You got this," he repeated. Steve held his gaze.
"Captain?" Fury asked.
Steve closed his eyes briefly, then nodded and gently pulled his hand out of Tony's, turning to the team. "Yeah. All right. Widow, you and I are going to go around the south to breach tower security where the report said there might be an entrance. Hawkeye, up on that roof, if you can shoot the collars off the wolves I think SHIELD will be able to get into the grounds without them attacking. Iron Man, I think that turret's got some strategic importance, see if you can blast it after you take Hawkeye to the roof. Thor can handle the flying monkeys."
"I shall return with the heads of these foul creatures, Captain," Thor boomed, and took off.
"I'll just piss off and let you do your job, then," said Fury with a grin, and strode off to his people.
Tony gave Steve a kiss and flipped down his mask, grabbing Clint none too gently and hauling him up, grinning at his indignant squawk. He glanced down, seeing Bruce narrow his eyes and let go of his normal calm, and grow.
Tony plopped Clint down on the roof and flew back for Natasha, and Steve tapped on Hulk's leg.
Hull looked down at Steve, and Steve pointed to the castle walls.