It wasn't like Steve hadn't known it was twenty degrees out. His uniform had been well-designed and kept him insulated, and when he was in combat he was generally active enough that he had other things to pay attention to besides the weather -- but sometimes the conditions were miserable enough during a fight that he couldn't help but notice.
Today was one of those days. At least it wasn't currently snowing. But it had been, and then it had clearly melted and refrozen, and every time he took a step he punched through the icy crust into the five inches of snow underneath. The sky was a dismal gray, the wind seemed to cut right through him, and even AIM's new crop of laser beams weren't brightening the day any.
Maybe next time, he thought, as he punched another beekeeper, AIM would put their base somewhere that wasn't Buffalo. Somewhere that didn't get lake-effect snow. Or maybe someone else could deal with it. Even Logan was looking grumpier than usual, although admittedly it was hard to tell.
And it was a damned shame that Ororo was on vacation, he thought, as he watched Jan stomp by, thirty feet tall. Ororo could have done something about the weather.
"Say goodbye to those mind-control satellites!" Jan hollered, and she swung a tree trunk at the huge satellite dish. The trunk cracked and splintered, and part of the dish dented in.
It was going to take a lot of trees to fix this problem, if this was the only solution.
And then Tony swooped down, repulsors glowing, and melted the entire dish into an unrecognizable hunk of metal. And the best part was, it was even warm. For a bit, anyway.
God, he loved Tony.
The AIM scientists started looking pretty demoralized after that.
It was another half-hour to run clean-up, as Peter webbed everyone who could still move -- and a few people who couldn't -- and then the only thing left to do was stand in the cold, shivering, waiting around for the authorities. Steve let anyone who wanted to go sit in the nice, heated Quinjet do so, but of course he'd taken guard duty as the last of the AIM scientists were transported away, and of course Tony had volunteered to come with him.
He stood on the crest of the little hill looking down into the remains of the AIM base, the pile of metal that had once been a satellite, and the tracks and dirt in the frozen snow. Jan's footprints were huge.
From behind him, there was a familiar heavy tread, the noise of metal boots crunching through the snow.
"Great move there," Steve said, glancing back, as Tony stepped up beside him.
"Aww, it was nothing." Even in the armor Tony looked a little bashful.
Impulsively, Steve leaned in and kissed him -- because why not kiss his sweetheart? -- pressing his mouth against the icy metal cheek of the armor faceplate. And then--
He tried to pull away and couldn't.
He was stuck.
He tried again.
He hadn't thought there had been any tongue involved, but -- okay, maybe there'd been a little. Because that was clearly how he was stuck.
"Steve?" Tony asked, curious. "Not that I ever mind you kissing me, but you've been standing there a while."
Steve shut his eyes in misery and hoped Tony wouldn't try to move away.
"Mmmphmmmrrrm," he said.
He opened his eyes. He could just barely make out Tony's eyes sliding toward his, behind the mask, at the edge of his field of vision.
"Oh my God." Tony sounded like he was both honestly concerned and trying to hold back laughter. "Steve, did you get your tongue stuck to my armor?"
He couldn't actually manage a verbal answer to that. "Mmm."
"Oh God." A noise that might have been a chuckle escaped the vocal filters. "That's -- oh God. I'm so sorry."
"Mmmmm!" Steve said, indignantly, because I'm glad you think my pain is funny was clearly not able to come out of his mouth right now.
He tried to shift his weight, which was hard to do because he didn't want to take the risk of leaning back. He liked his tongue the way it was.
There were a few shaky breathing noises, Tony getting himself under control. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. It's not funny. It's not."
Steve glared as best he could with his eyes an inch from Tony's face. "Rrmmrr."
But Tony wrapped his arms around him, and even though it was ice-cold, it was still Tony, and he felt a little better for it.
The eye-slits glowed bright, and Steve knew Tony was using the HUD inside the helmet.
"I'm radioing the Quinjet," Tony said. "One sec. I'm asking them if one of them wouldn't mind coming out with some hot water. I figure you don't want the entire team."
"Mmm-hmm," Steve agreed. It was best to keep the embarrassment to a minimum.
Please don't let it be Logan, he thought.
It was Logan.
He spent a good ten seconds laughing at him, and then he offered to just claw out a section of the faceplate -- which Tony vetoed -- but he'd brought a bucket of warm water, and it didn't take long at all to get Steve... detached.
"There you go, bub," Logan said. And Steve was about to congratulate him on refraining from joking about it when he added, "And we can watch A Christmas Story when we get home." His mouth curled.
Which was even lousier than just joking about it, because it was a joke Steve didn't get. It wasn't like he'd seen every movie ever, since he'd woken up in the future.
"Logan," Tony said, and his voice was colder than the weather.
"It's set in 1940!" Logan said. "Cap'll love it."
Tony flipped the faceplate up, possibly -- Steve thought -- so he could glare at him with his actual face, his hey-Avengers-I'm-not-kidding face. "No."
"Suit yourself," Logan said, and he turned and stalked back to the Quinjet.
"It's one of those classic Christmas movies," Tony said, after Logan was gone, because he always knew what Steve didn't know, and he had a knack for telling Steve and not making him feel bad about not knowing. "From the eighties." He paused. "Kid gets his tongue stuck to a pole."
Oh. Steve sighed. "Yeah," he agreed. "Not funny."
His tongue hurt.
"Hey," Tony said, a little awkwardly. "I'm sorry I laughed; I know it's not -- I didn't mean--"
Sure, he'd been annoyed. But he could kind of see that it was funny. And Tony loved him. He knew that. And Tony had defended him to Logan. That was worth something. That was worth a lot.
"It's all right," Steve said. "I still love you, you know." He leaned in close. "Can I get a do-over?"
The tip of Tony's nose was going pink from the cold and his breath fogged out in front of him. But he grinned. "I don't know, Cap. You willing to put your life in my hands here?"
"For you?" Steve asked. "Any day of the week."
He leaned in -- and they both laughed when he bumped his head on the edge of the retracted faceplate.
"How about a rain check?" Tony offered. "We can go home, get indoors, and I'll kiss you all you like. No helmets. Temperatures above freezing."
"Gosh, Mr. Stark." Steve batted his eyes. "You sure know how to spoil a fella."
"Nice warm bath," Tony continued, while grinning. "Cuddling under the blankets, afterward. Mug of hot chocolate."
Steve pretended to think about it, rubbing his chin with his icy glove.
"With marshmallows," Tony added.
"You've got yourself a deal," Steve said, and he slipped his hand in Tony's and they walked back to the Quinjet.
He'd learned his lesson, all right: next time, less tongue.