Tony wasn’t taking the blame for this. He ignored Steve’s crossed arms and pissed off expression, wondering if Neverland had a pirate outlet mall. He would look fabulous in red and gold velvet brocade, no eye-patch required, thank you very much. He looked at Steve, trying to stifle a laugh. If looks could kill, he’d be very dead.
Mention magic to Tony Stark, and he’d probably laugh at you. He’d experienced the phenomena first hand, and he shared his house with a Norse God, but magic was irrational, and as such, merely tolerable.
It all started with a trip to Disney World. The Avengers -- primarily Thor, Clint, and Steve -- had taken it upon themselves to plan an October trip to the Magic Kingdom. Clint’s obsession with Disney films only fueled Steve’s passion for two dimensional animation techniques, and Thor’s interest was piqued by the claim that Disney was the most magical place on earth. It had gone downhill from there.
Tony was a sucker, a great big sucker. His house was full of overgrown man-children he couldn’t say no to. It was worse than that time Pepper refused to let him bring home to box of kittens they’d found abandoned in the rain. She’d found them homes but absolutely insisted his workshop was no place for pets. That, and his inability to feed himself didn’t bode well for any live animal, let alone five--which still didn’t explain why she’d let him take home an entire team of Avengers a month later. When she called to ask him about the trip to Disney she said, “Steve never gets this excited about anything, you have to take him. He was making the face, Tony. He drove to my office and made the face, you know the one...”
And the sad thing was, he did know. He knew exactly which face she meant. And now she was breaking out ‘the tone.’ The Avengers were going to Disney. Well, the Avengers, and their significant others, and their friends, and most of S.H.I.E.L.D., and director Fury, and Thor’s pet turtle socks, which really made no fucking sense, but hey, why not? So it was less of a trip and more of a circus, but Tony was all for splitting into groups.
After a harrowing morning at the airport -- he’d gotten chewed out by Pepper for almost Home Aloneing Thor... which was ridiculous, since Thor was extremely intelligent and at least a hundred times Tony’s age. It wasn’t his fault Thor smashed every alarm clock he’d ever been given. That was what happened when you went to bed with a fucking magical hammer, ok? Not his fault.
Steve insisted that they buy ears with their names stitched on the front. When Tony tried to explain they were waving a red flag at the paparazzi, he insisted it wouldn’t be a problem. Tony should have known better than to ask, he was talking to a man who defended himself with a bullseye.
Steve smiled brightly and beckoned their group toward the Hall of Presidents-- an exhibit only slightly more interesting than Tony’s last prostate exam-- a place where most tourists went to sit on benches and be underwhelmed when the crowds outside became too much to handle.
He talked them into stopping by Quest for lunch, so he could show Steve some 80’s arcade games. They’d just paid for admission when a familiar green light split the sky above them, and Loki appeared. He gave an eloquent speech, that to Tony’s ears basically amounted to ‘I have a severe case of bitchface, how dare you peasants go to Disney while I’m grounded to Asgard?’ And judging by the guilty expression on his face, Thor was eating it up.
Tony was not paid enough for this shit.
“Listen Maleficent... can I call you Maleficent? I hear you swap genders as often as most people order takeout... Anyway, totally not the point. Are you serious right now? The amount of money I’ve invested in fixing Manhattan should fill your lifetime quota for trips to Disney, and just an FYI, the Avengers scored the winning touchdown. You know what the losing Superbowl team gets? Neither do I, Greenbean, but it’s not an all expense paid trip to Disney World.”
This devolved into a full blown argument between the majority of the Avengers, while Loki was, once again, ignored. In hindsight, that may have been a mistake on their part. If Peter Parker had been with them, he might have warned them that his spidey senses were detecting a full blown youngest child meltdown-in-progress, but he was at home, guarding New York with the Fantastic Four, and Tony was too busy shoving his finger in Steve’s chest to notice things escalating behind him, until he caught a face-full of pissed off Loki.
“If you wish to bicker like children amongst yourselves, I have no qualms treating you as such,” Loki hissed. “You in particular, Man of Iron, have a penchant for such behavior.”
“Pot, kettle, baby.” Tony grinned.
“I’ll will grant you a boon,” Loki said. “As you refuse to age mentally, so too shall you remain the same age physically, for all of perpetuity.” He pressed his finger to Tony’s Arc Reactor, and a bright green light engulfed their group.
Tony Stark’s Rules For Surviving in Neverland
(Can Be Consolidated into One Rule if You Have Enough Alcohol.)
Rule No. 1: Do not mock your fairy boyfriend, because Red Bull is not a feasible method of transportation in Neverland.
It was dawn when Tony woke, he stared up at the orange sky and looked around at the unfamiliar landscape. There was a fly buzzing around his head; he swatted at it and was startled to hear a low cursing before something kicked the side of his face. Kicked... that wasn’t right. He looked up and rubbed his eyes...“Steve?”
Steve was hovering above him. He was tiny, and there were delicate green wings fluttering behind him as he landed on Tony’s chest. “What did you do?”
Tony closed his eyes. “Judging by your current attire, I think Loki sent us to Neverland.”
“Like the play?”
“Yeah, there was a Disney film too, it was a little after your time. I take it Clint hasn’t gotten around to that one. Now,” Tony said, smirking slightly up at Steve, his eyes still closed. “If you’re Tink, and we’ve ended up here together, I guess that makes me Peter Pan. Which means I need some pixie dust to fly, so lay it on me Tinker-toy.” Tony cracked one eye, waiting for a reaction.
Steve’s face took on a malicious cast and he smiled a stubborn, unamused sort of smile. “You’re not going anywhere. It’s your fault I’m stuck like this”, he gestured to his filmy green dress with a scowl. “So you’re grounded. Enjoy it.”
Tony frowned. “I saw this movie. I’m pretty sure Peter spanks the pixie dust out of Tink at one point. Don’t make me...” He lunged for Steve and missed. Steve zipped away, zooming in close just long enough to bite Tony’s finger before darting out of reach again.
Steve smirked down at him, “You were saying?”
“I understand your frustration, Steve. It must be an immense burden having a pixie sized package. So I’ll forgive you this once.” Tony shook a finger at him.
Rule No. 2: If your ex-girlfriend has been turned into a siren, it’s probably best not to make Little Mermaid references, even if you are trapped in a Disney film.
Tony and Steve passed through the woods, which were bustling with activity, though they didn’t pass any other fairies or humans for quite some time. Around noon, they came upon a clearing full of mermaids bathing in the warm waters of a lagoon.
Tony stopped, his jaw dropping. “Is that Pepper with the fins and the little mermaid shell bra?” he pointed, and Steve stopped, hovering next to him as he looked where Tony was pointing. “Woah, it totally is Pepper...”
“Tony, over here. Steve... wow, what happened to you?” Pepper asked, tossing her wet hair over her shoulder.
Before Steve could answer her, Tony cut him off. “Shit, this is priceless, you’re a fish. I mean, how does that even work?” He gestured at his crotch.
Pepper ignored him. “That is a lovely dress, Steve.”
Steve flushed to the roots of his hair. “Thank you, ma’am.”
Pepper’s gorgeous pearlescent tail alternated between a pale sherbert orange and a shimmering silver. It suited her coloring perfectly.
Tony watched the lower half of her anatomy suspiciously and opened his mouth to resume his previous line of questioning when a pair of dark grey fins wrapped around his mouth.
“Mummumphum,” he panicked, flailing his arms until he was abruptly released and stumbled to his knees in the lagoon.
Pepper smiled. “Thank you, Phil.”
Tony turned, and saw that it was indeed Coulson, watching him with the serious expression that usually preceded a taser threat.
“Nice tail,” Tony leered.
“Mr. Stark,” Coulson said,“I may have a tail, but I can still choke you to death with my fins. They have a remarkable amount of tensile strength, shall I demonstrate?”
Tony backed up, his shoes sliding on the algae covered rocks, and he started to fall. Pepper took pity on him, fishing him up onto her rock before he could fully submerge himself.
He gave her a grateful look.
“You get me out of this lagoon, Anthony Edward Stark, or I swear I will use my executive mermaid powers to sing your ass into an early grave.”
“Can she do that?” Tony asked Phil with wide eyes.
“I’m afraid so,” he nodded solemnly.
“I can lend you some pixie dust if you’d like. I’ve never seen a flying mermaid kill a man.” Steve said, hovering well out of Tony’s reach.
“Stuff it,” Tony hissed.
Steve gave him a dirty look.
“We’ll be back Pep, my darling, lovely, benevolent, Pep. Please don’t kill me.”
“If you come back here with a fork and try to tell me it’s a hairbrush, I will maim you, Tony!”
“Damn,” Tony muttered. “How does she always guess?”
Steve smiled knowingly.
Rule No. 3: Don’t Let Tony Stark Build the Wendy Lady a House.
The wet coastal lagoons eventually gave way to wide fields of flowers, surrounded by leafy trees and lots of overgrowth. The sun was starting to dip in the sky when Steve stopped and Tony almost walked into him. “Is your armor holding those people hostage?” he hissed.
Tony squinted at the clearing ahead and grinned. He took off at a sprint. “Rhodey!”
The colonel was sitting on a tree-stump with a thoroughly irate expression on his face. “Great to see you honey bear. You found my suit, I knew you were my favorite! Pepper is being unreasonably cruel....”
“Tony, don’t --”
Tony reached for the armor. He was surprised when it swung a hand around, flat and menacing.
“Are you a lost boy or a pirate?” the metallic synthesizer said. It was both creepy and impossible, because no one but Tony could wear the armor without his overrides. There was only one explanation. Magic.
Tony put his hand on his hip and scowled. “Bitch, I’m Peter Pan, and I own you!” (Which was apparently not the correct override code.)
Rhodey buried his face in his hands.
The armor clapped. It was extremely frightening to watch something that heavy bouncing around like Darcy and Clint on a bender. “Peter, darling! I’m reading our children a bedtime story!” the suit said.
Tony went pale. “Please tell me you’re not...”
“I am the Iron Man MK 207 AKA The Wendy Lady. Please sit down, darling. When I’m done reading Cinderella, I’ll give you a kiss.”
“No. No thanks, I’m good --”
“You’ve always loved your suits too much --”
“Shut up, Steve, now is not the time.”
“Rhodey, any chance you can page War Machine and put Tony’s armor under?” Steve asked. ”Before it hauls him to the local diner for post-engagement burgers and milkshakes.”
“It’s 2012, who does that anymore, Archie? And do you really think there’s a fucking burger joint in Neverland? Like maybe we’ll just slide on over to the set of Happy Days or something. You know what? If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous,” Tony smirked.
Steve flushed, sprinkling pixie dust everywhere in agitation. “If you want to make out with your armor, please, don’t let me stop you,” he said, crossing his arms.
“You are! You’re totally jealous,” Tony crowed.
“What is wrong with the two of you?” Rhodey said. “This is worse than that time you and Pepper showed up on my roof and started making out like a couple of seals fighting over a grape.”
“I thought you’d broken up?” Steve said, glaring.
“We did, don’t get your translucent green panties in a twist.” Tony paused. “Are they translucent?”
Steve’s lower lip jutted.
Tony threw his hands up. “Oh come on. I am not going to make out with my armor! Even if it does have a nice ass.” Steve’s frown deepened. “Not as nice as yours,“ Tony quickly amended.
“Not better.” Steve said.
“I don’t want to make out with you, Peter. I just want to give you a kiss.” The armor advanced toward him.
“Enough!” Steve snapped, he raised a hand and blasted the armor into a tree.
And wow... remind Tony not to piss him off.
The suit collapsed in a smoking heap.
“What the hell? We could have used that,” Tony said.
“Yes, and after the courtship, when it decided to take you to it’s treehouse and make you it’s queen, what then?” Steve asked.
“He does have a point,” Rhodey frowned.
Tony grabbed Steve by the wings and held him in front of his face. “You know, you really are adorable like this.”
“Let me go!” Steve yelped, struggling to get free. He blew dust in Tony’s face until Tony sneezed and dropped him. “Keep your mitts to yourself, Stark.” His ears were flushed, his wings fluttering with agitation.
Tony looked down. He was hovering a foot off the ground. “This is awesome. Give me more, Steve. We can fly together.”
Steve darted away. “Not until you apologize.”
“Apologize for what?”
Steve gave him a dirty look.
Tony landed gently. “Fine then, at least help me build a house for this sucker. We can’t leave a suit of armor laying around in the middle of Neverland.”
“Are you serious?” Rhodey asked, getting to his feet. “We are not building your armor a house.”
Tony started drawing crude blueprints in the mud with a stick while Steve and Rhodey played tick-tac-toe with acorns.
“Tony, if we help you bury your bone, can we please get a move on? We still haven’t found most of our friends, and it’s starting to get dark.”
Tony squared his shoulders. “Fine, let’s go... hey, do you guys smell KFC?”
Rule No 4.: This isn’t 1902. Welcome to: Wildlings in Defiance of Wrinkles, An Equal Opportunity Organization for the Recruitment of Abandoned Persons.
“Wildlings, you have been sleeping in the woods long enough. I say we claim our share of the Jolly Roger. We are children of Neverland, and we too deserve to sleep on feather mattresses!” Natasha shouted, brandishing her saber.
“Hey! She’s cutting in on my gig. Those are my Lost Boys!” Tony scowled.
“Tony, they’re people, you can’t just claim them.”
“Oh my god... Barton’s helping her. See if he gets any new toys for Christmas this year!”
“Tonight we dine in hell!” Clint shouted, brandishing a crude wooden bow as Natasha gave him a dirty look. “As the lady says. Seize the pirate ship... Wildlings in Defiance of Wrinkles!”
“Are you fucking serious right now?” Tony rolled his eyes.
“That’s worse than the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Department.”
“It is pretty bad,” Rhody agreed.
“So they’re pirate-ship jacking, and no one invited Peter fucking Pan? And how dare she rename my Lost Boys.” Tony was offended to the core of his being. He advanced into the clearing, arms crossed.
Rhodey and Steve exchanged a glance and shrugged, trailing behind him.
“I wish we had a bucket of popcorn,” Rhodey whispered.
“What for?” Steve asked.
Rhodey shook his head. “Just watch, it’s better than going to the movies.”
“Alright,” Tony shouted, “who put Natasha in charge of my army? Let’s get a few things straight. It’s the Lost Boys, not W.I.D.O.W. Please. Next you’ll tell me Barton’s hosting fashionista Fridays, a study in purple.”
“Are you implying that girls are inferior to boys,?” Sif said, poking Tony in the back with her sword. (Where the hell did she come from?) “I’d be glad to bend you over my knee and give you a sound thrashing, Tony Stark.”
“Told you,” Rhody whispered.
“I really wish you would,” Tony smiled at her.
Sif jabbed him in the kidney.
“I would be honored to join your army, Natasha,” Steve said, landing on the tip of her sword.
“Traitor,” Tony scowled.
Steve smiled sweetly. “You’re just upset that you aren't the center of attention.”
“You love it,” Tony blew him a kiss.
Steve turned away.
“And I could totally pull off that dress off better than you,” Tony hissed under his breath. “You don’t have my sweet man curves.”
“What did you just say?” Steve growled.
“Nothing, darling,” Tony replied with a wide grin.
“Ok ladies,” Natasha said, “break it up. I have a plan. We’ll need a vessel, like the Helicarrier, to fly us back to Disney World. If we conquer the Jolly Roger, we get to go home. That is, if you two can work together long enough to do that?”
Steve ducked his head. “Yes ma’am.”
Tony flipped her the bird.
Sif smacked him in the ass with the flat of her blade.
Rule No. 5: In the Interest of Full Disclosure, If You Arrive in Neverland, and Your Ex-BFF’s Name is James, You Should Probably Fucking Tell Someone. Steve.
When Tony woke up the next morning and looked down, Steve was sprawled across his torso. There was a little puddle of drool around his mouth, and his hair was sticking up adorably. Tony watched him, amused, before scratching his back with one finger. “Wake up Tinker-tot, we’ve got a long day ahead of us.”
Steve sat up slowly, confused. When he realized that he’d fallen asleep on Tony, he frowned. “I was cold.”
Tony snorted. “It’s ok, I’ve been told I make a comfortable pillow. You’re cute when you drool, Rogers.”
“Please.” Steve scowled. “Stop talking now.” But he didn’t move, just splayed back out, closing his eyes.
“I guess we’re not getting up yet, huh?”
Steve made a low noise that sounded suspiciously like a chuckle.
“I don’t know if I like mini-you, you’re awfully pushy.”
“Which is unusual how exactly?”
Natasha took Sif and Steve to scout the Jolly Roger, leaving Tony and Clint to guard their camp. Clint took a sentry position in the tallest tree he could find, and tuned Tony out entirely.
“Are you sleeping? I know you’re not sleeping,” Tony said, throwing bits of twigs and rocks at Clint, who was still sitting in the same spot he’d been sitting in an hour ago, with both of his eyes wide open.
Sometime around noon, Bruce wandered up, battered and naked, but intact. “I had a run in with some aggressive wildlife. Let’s just say the other guy doesn’t take too kindly to being stung. On the upside, I did find a veritable island of discarded clock bits about a mile from here, if you need something to tinker with?”
“Oh god yes,” Tony said, pouncing on him. “You always bring me the best gifts, Bruce. I am soooo bored.”
It was starting to get dark by the time they reached the massive steampunk graveyard Bruce had described. It was huge, overflowing with the inner workings of hundreds of destroyed timepieces. “Somebody reeeally hates clocks,” Tony said. He began to dig through the rubbish, selecting choice bits and tossing the rest into a discard pile.
Bruce watched him, amused. By nightfall his keep pile was so large, he was worried they’d need the other guy to carry it all back.
Natasha had a large campfire blazing when they arrived back at camp. Several members of W.I.D.O.W. were cooking rabbits over spits, courtesy of Clint.
Tony snuck off to the tree he’d slept in the night before. It had a crude platform, built high into the side of a tree trunk, with a canopy of leaves overhead to shelter them from the drizzle. He’d been extremely relieved when he’d realized that they didn’t have to burrow underground at night like the kids in the Disney movie.
Tony perched the old clock he’d found in the dump in a branch with thick clusters of leaves at the base. He pulled the inner-workings out, tossing the gears and springs to the side. When he was done, he tore a strip of his t-shirt and lined the bottom with grass, stuffing the cloth over top, fluffing everything up until it looked nice and soft.
“Tony, what are you doing?” Steve called from below. “You should come eat...” When Steve flew up next to him, he stopped, fluttering at Tony’s side, an odd look on his face. “Is that...?”
Tony looked away. “I thought it might be more comfortable for you... You might be warmer.”
“Oh,” Steve said, darting inside the clock. He peeked out. “That was nice of you.”
“Yeah... well, don’t worry about it. Let’s get some dinner. I’m starved. Come on.”
Steve watched him climb down the side of their tree shelter and shook his head.
The next morning when Tony opened his eyes, Steve was curled up on his shoulder again. He didn’t say anything, just reached into the clock house and pulled the strip of fabric out, draping it over Steve’s back.
When they climbed down for breakfast, Bruce and Natasha were gone.
Clint frowned. “She was acting weird yesterday. She went to scout out the Jolly Roger. When she came back, she told me she saw a guy who was supposed to be Hook, and she muttered something about the Winter Soldier. When I asked her what she was talking about, she clammed up, refused to say anything else. According to Nat, the guy’s whole arm is made of metal. I always thought it was just the hook... but this guy, apparently he’s got the whole deal. I’m not sure what she’s gotten herself into, but I don’t like it. And why would she take Banner?”
Tony frowned, “I had a brilliant idea yesterday.”
“Oh, here we go...” Clint muttered.
“Shut it, Barton. I was thinking... we all know what Hook is afraid of, right?”
“Prepubescent man-children who can fly?” Clint tilted his head. “Hmmm... no wonder Loki sent you here, it totally fits.”
“I swear I will hurt you. As I was saying, clocks and crocodiles, right? So, I was thinking, we have a shit ton of clock parts.” He paused, “we can totally build a clockodile! Am I a genius, or what?”
“What the hell is a clockodile?” Clint grumbled.
“Well, Peter was showing me his tumblr the other day --”
“You know what?” Clint said, flopping onto his back in the grass. “I don’t even care anymore. This can’t possibly get any weirder. Please, continue.”
Tony narrowed his eyes. “So glad I have your permission. The clockodile is a steampunk crocodile made of clock parts. It was practically invented to make Captain Hook piss his pants. If I can make one that’s animatronic, bam, we’re in business. Best idea ever!”
“Yeah, that’s the best idea you’ve had since that time you decided we needed a sentient toilet, which, let me tell you, is invasive and gross, especially after you put that bidet in...”
“I acknowledge that the toilet was not one of my better ideas... Pepper forced me to acknowledge that it was not one of my better ideas, and I have done so. But this is fucking genius, sooo unless you have a better plan, this is what we’re going to do with ourselves today.”
“Dear Mom and Dad, today I went to Neverland with Tony Stark and a man who’s been dead for ninety years...”
“Hey!” Steve said.
“It was fabulous. My best friend took over the the orphans previously known as the Lost Boys in a campaign for equal rights. We built sentient animals out of busted clock parts in arts and crafts... it was swell.” Clint snarked. “You do realize that a small part of me expects to wake up in a bathroom stall, back in Wichita, sleeping off a bad acid trip, right?”
“You and me both, Barton, but here we sit. So, get your ass up and help me build our boy James a tamagotchi pet from hell, alright?”
Two days later, Natasha and Bruce still hadn’t returned. They’d built two fully functioning mechanical clockodiles from Tony’s scraps, and Steve had reluctantly agreed to mobilize the crocs if Tony would stop working for a few hours and get some sleep.
Clint and Tony perched on the back of the two giant clockodiles. The mechanical eyes glowed an eerie blue, the same color as Tony’s arc reactor. Their mouths snapped open and closed as they skirted above the forest, sharp teeth grinding, clockwork hearts ticking with each swish of their mechanized tails.
When they were close enough for Clint to survey the ship, he located Natasha on the main deck, “What the heck is she doing?”
“It appears that she’s infiltrating the pirate ship?” Tony said, frowning. “At least, I hope that’s what she’s doing.”
“She’s hanging all over him. Hey Steve, get over here, you might be able to see better.”
Steve flew next to Clint and gasped. “That’s not possible...”
“Steve, are you ok, you look a little pale?” Tony reached for him.
Steve bit his finger. “Hands out of my face, Tony.”
“You know darling, if you want to bite, I’m not opposed; but it’s polite to ask first, this is strike two.”
Steve turned red and flew off.
“What crawled up his ass?”
Steve fluttered down until he was level with the ship.
“What the hell is he doing?” Tony asked, alarmed.
Steve hovered near Hook’s face, his wings fluttering frantically. “Bucky,” he hissed in Hook’s ear. “Where the hell have you been?”
Bucky jerked around, startled. “Are you the one they call Captain America?” he growled, snatching Steve by his wings.
“Bucky...” Steve yelped, trying to yank free. “Don’t you remember me?
Natasha was at Bucky’s side in an instant. She grabbed Steve. “This isn’t Captain America. This is some pathetic cosplayer from Disney who was caught up in the spell. The real Captain America is still out there somewhere.” She shoved Steve into a glass jar while he was busy gawking at her, and punctured three breathing holes in the top.
Bucky eyed Steve suspiciously. “As you say, but I think I’ll keep him in my quarters, just in case.”
“If you’d like,” Natasha replied, handing him the jar.
Tony watched Captain Hook take Steve into his cabin with a look of complete disbelief. “She helped him.”
“She’s playing a deeper game.”
“She helped him capture Steve.”
“We need to get down there and help them,” Clint said mulishly.
“Fine, I’m going. Take my clockodile back to the camp and get Rhodey. He’s working on some special weaponry, we might need it. Get back here as fast as you can.”
“James Buchanan Barnes, you let me out of this glass jar, right now!”
“I’m afraid I have no idea who that is,” Bucky said, leaning down to peer at Steve through the glass. “I was sent to kill your namesake, pretty boy. He’s a bit more imposing than you.” He laughed.
“You were sent to kill Captain America? Steve asked quietly.
The door opened before Bucky could answer him. Steve slid to the bottom of the glass jar.
“Sir, it’s time for your checkup,” a soft voice said.
Bucky scowled. “If you insist, Dr. Banner.” He rummaged around on the table and grabbed a bottle of Whisky.
Banner looked at Steve and winked.
Bucky poured two fingers and tossed them back, sitting on the edge of the bed. He let Banner examine his metal arm.
“I can do some deep-tissue massage to loosen the muscles up.”
“Not tonight, Dr. Banner, I’m afraid I have more pressing concerns.”
“The Widow is asking for you,” Bruce said.
Bucky cursed, tossing his heavy blue velvet jacket across the bed. Steve closed his eyes. That was definitely his Bucky. He had the same ragged scars where he’d caught himself shimmying up a rusted fire escape when they were boys. What the hell was wrong with him?
While Bucky went to meet with Natasha, Bruce came to talk to Steve. “You want me to let you out of there?” he asked.
“This guy, Bruce, I know him... I thought he was dead. And now he’s here. I don’t know what’s wrong with him, but I have to stay here and find out.”
“We could have Natasha punch him in the head a few times.” She’s gotten really good at it.”
“I don’t want my friend brain-damaged.”
Bruce smiled--- “Are you implying Clint is brain-damaged?”
“Bruce,” Steve hissed, shocked. “You’ve been spending too much time with Tony.” He stilled. “He’s coming back. I hear him. Bruce, you need to go.”
Bruce collected his papers and pushed the door open, bowing his head as he passed Bucky on the way out.
Bucky leaned over Steve’s makeshift prison. “Widow says you’re the key to getting us out of here. Unfortunately, I can’t leave until Captain America is dead, and I currently have no idea where he is. So we’re going to host a feast, and I’m going to poison everyone, that should take care of Rogers. If you do your part, I might let you live.”
“That’s monstrous, Bucky. I won’t let you.”
“Believe me, it’s merciful,” Bucky said.
By the time Tony and Rhodey made it to the pirate village at the base of the Jolly Roger, the sun was rising over Neverland. “Is that a white flag?” Tony asked, squinting up at the pirate ship.
“Join us for a feast, courtesy of the Winter Soldier!” a portly pirate bellowed.
Tony looked at Rhodey and shrugged. They buried the clockodiles in the bushes nearby and joined the others on the deck of the Jolly Roger.
Bucky paced in front of his cabin. He’d moved Steve to a table on the deck. Steve’s jar was covered in a fine white cloth, but there was a tiny hole through which he could watch the proceedings. When most of the members of W.I.D.O.W. were assembled, Bucky began to speak. “Ladies and Gentlemen, I have invited you here today to partake of a feast. We are all adults in Neverland. I propose we throw off the shackles of childhood. I invite you to have your cake and eat it too, which is why I have prepared for you today, the finest selection of desserts this side of Neverland. I believe that if we work together, we can return to the world from whence we came. Widow. Dr. Banner. If you please.”
Bruce and Natasha both picked up a cake to distribute. Bucky smiled. When they reached the first row of guests, he returned to his cabin, slamming the door shut behind him.
Bruce handed his cake to Tony, who cut it into four neat slices and passed one to Rhodey.
Steve panicked. He began banging against the side of the jar. The jar was made of something that dampened his magic. He couldn’t escape. As Tony raised a piece of the cake to his mouth, Steve threw himself against the glass with all his strength. The jar tipped, rolling off the table and hitting the floor with a resounding crack. It split down the center.
Steve flew toward Tony, “Don’t eat that!”
Tony frowned. “Where the hell have you been?”
“In that jar!” Steve shouted.
“Was it more comfortable than the clock I brought you?”
“What? Tony, why the hell would you think...”
Tony raised the cake to his mouth again. Steve threw himself into the icing, rolling around in it until the slice was completely messed up. Rhodey gave him a grossed out look and set his piece down.
“What the hell?”
“I tried to tell you, damnit. It’s poisoned.”
“Why would he poison half of Neverland?”
“Hello! Bad guy.” Steve tried to stand and listed heavily to one side, stumbling and landing back on his butt in the icing. “I don’t feel right...”
“Steve?” Tony plucked him out of the icing.
Rhodey started yelling that the cakes were poisoned. He snatched one out of someone’s hand and threw it overboard.
Bruce and Natasha exchanged startled looks and began throwing the rest of the cakes overboard.
“Tony, I don’t feel so good.”
“You little idiot... why didn’t you just blast it out of my hand?”
Steve closed his eyes. “I didn’t think my skin would absorb the poison... I wasn’t thinking. I just wanted to stop you.”
“It’s his wings,” Bruce said, hovering behind Tony. “They’re like membranes, like the ones in our eyes and noses. He’s absorbing the poison through his wings. We need to get him washed off.
Tony gritted his teeth. “Hang on Steve,” he said, cupping Steve in his hands as he jumped off the side of the ship.
Tony kicked his way toward the surface quickly, trailing his fingers over Steve’s wings to remove as much of the icing as he could. Steve shivered convulsively in his hands. “Please, don’t... please. Come on. I don’t think clapping will work on you, pal. Fuck.” He draped Steve over his shoulder and clapped his hands together. “Come on Steve, you know I believe in you.”
Rhodey swooped down on his clockodile a moment later, Bruce clinging to his back.
“Why isn’t the serum helping him?” Tony shouted.
Bruce ran a hand through his curls. “He’s so tiny, and there was so much icing... his wings are almost as big as he is. It’s probably overwhelming his system.”
They were rescued from the water, arriving back at the ship just in time to watch Natasha disarm the Winter Soldier with a rapier. The members of W.I.D.O.W. swarmed him, tying him to the main mast with an abundance of rope.
Bucky eyed Tony warily. “Did you really think I’d be scared of a bunch of clocks?”
“Hey, it was worth a shot. Your namesake certainly wasn’t fond of them,” Clint said.
Tony let Bruce carry Steve toward the main cabin, then he walked straight up to Bucky and punched him in the face.
“Hey,” Natasha said. “That’s my job. So...” she asked Bucky “do you remember who you are?”
Bucky frowned, “The Winter Soldier.”
Natasha punched him again.
Bruce watched Steve. He was covered with a blue brocade jacket sleeve, and he was still shivering, but it wasn’t as violent.
“I think he’s doing better, his color is improving,” Bruce said. "I'm really sorry, Tony. When I caught Natasha sneaking out of camp, I couldn't let her go alone, we were trying to see what the Winter Soldier's plans were, we didn't know about the poison."
“It's... it's fine. Go help Natasha, pal, I’m going to stay with him for awhile.”
Tony sat on the edge of the bed next to Steve for what felt like an hour before he coughed and opened his eyes.
He looked up at Tony and rasped, “Did we win?”
“Idiot,” Tony said, choking up.
Steve smiled up at him.
“I’m serious, don’t you ever do that again.” Tony lifted Steve in his hands and carefully ran a finger across his cheek.
Steve leaned into it, resting his head against Tony’s thumb. “I’m sorry.”
“That’s worse,” Tony looked away.
“Give me another hour or two, and I think I can get us home.”
Once they’d gotten everyone aboard the Jolly Roger, and Steve was significantly improved, Tony sent him off to do his pixie magic. He’d stolen a red and gold velvet brocade jacket from Bucky’s belongings and was posing like Captain Morgan in the forecastle as he steered them toward home.
As they grew closer to their destination the glamour began to fade, and Tony eventually let Steve hop off his shoulder as he got too big to carry. They were about ten minutes outside of Disney when something occurred to Steve. He leaned against the curve of Tony’s body, shivering in his damp green pixie dress, and looked at the others gathered on the deck. “Where the hell is Thor?”
“Shit,” Tony said, “you don’t think...”
“He’s a god. Maybe he made it out.” Steve replied nervously.
“You know what I think?” Hawkeye asked, shimmying down from the crows nest. “I think the little shit is sitting at a table on Main Street eating ice cream with his asshole brother.”
“He’s what?” Tony shouted, leaning over the edge of the deck. Sure enough Thor was sitting at a table with Loki, waving up at them with a giant ice cream cone.
“I’m going to kill him,” Tony said.
“I am truly sorry, my friends. My brother was disappointed because he wasn’t invited on our outing. He has promised to return to his confinement.”
“And to fix Bucky?” Steve snapped.
Tony turned to look at him. “Wait, who the hell is Bucky?”
“Well, he claims to be the Winter Soldier, but that,” Steve pointed at the heap still tied to the mast of the Jolly Roger, “is my friend James Barnes, aka Bucky.”
“So, hold on...” Tony said. “You’re telling me the asshole’s name is James, and you didn’t think that was relevant.”
“And when was I supposed to tell you? I was imprisoned in a glass jar!” Steve shouted.
Rhodey plopped down in a chair next to Thor. “Ah, young love," he said, watching Steve and Tony shout at each other.
Thor smiled broadly. “Shall I take Loki to see their friend?”
Rhodey leaned back in his chair.“Give it an hour or two. I think Natasha wants to try her special method a few more times.”
“I don’t understand,” Thor said.
“It’s really not important,” Rhodey said. He shook his head at Steve and Tony where they were now making out in the middle of Main Street, still dressed up like a Pirate Captain and Tinkerbell. “Totally two seals fighting over a grape.”