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"So, what's your problem, Namor?" Tony dropped the last of the Hydra scientists onto the fishing boat the Avengers had commandeered. The Hydra submarine let out one last gurgling bloop before sinking in the center of a greasy patch of mingled fuel and oil. "Are you jealous that Cap's got his wings on his helmet? I mean, they don't do anything, but they look a lot less silly than your ankle flappers. Really, that's ridiculous. How do you keep balanced? I've seen bigger wings in a KFC bucket."
Steve cleared his throat. "Iron Man, that's enough," he said, without really expecting a response. Since they'd become intimate he'd got to know Tony much better, and he could recognize the adrenaline-high, common sense-low, mood Tony was in. The Hydra had been annoyingly elusive, but not put up enough of a fight to use up Tony's energy. He was spoiling for a fight, but Namor was unlikely to play by Tony's rules.
"Your lord and master has spoken," Namor said. He was looking particularly arrogant, arms crossed over his bare chest as he fluttered over the ocean. "You should heed him and beg my pardon for fouling my realm."
"Hey! There's no masters here. Cap and I are equal partners!"
"He lets you think that," Namor said with a sneer. "But I saw his displeasure when you disobeyed his command and struck this vessel."
Tony shot closer to Namor. "So we disagreed as to methods, big deal. It's done."
"You are insubordinate, insolent and arrogant!"
"I'm rubber, you're glue. Everything you say bounces off me and sticks to you." Tony made an insulting gesture.
"That childish spell is the best you can do?" Namor said, and dove into the water.
Steve closed his eyes briefly and sighed in relief. He turned to make sure Natasha and Clint had the prisoner situation under control. Thor and Bruce had stayed behind, in case the Hydra attack was a ruse. "Call in, and let Fury know we need ..." There was a blast of sound and water spray as the boat bounced and dipped wildly.
"Cap! Look out!" Clint shouted. He was holding onto Natasha with one arm and the other wrapped around a mast. The Hydra prisoners were skidding all over the deck, clinging to whatever they could reach.
Steve ran uphill against the slope of the slippery wooden deck in time to see Namor standing on the back of a whale and aiming a suspiciously blunt and harmless looking staff at Iron Man. Tony was hovering, arms crossed in a mockery of Namor's previous pose. "TONY, NO!" Steve leaped from the railing.
"Steve!" Iron Man turned his back on Namor and flew to catch Steve. They met and were surrounded by a dazzle of sea-green lighting. For an instant it hurt like crazy and then Steve splashed into the ocean, cool and soothing against his bare skin.
Wait. Bare... he tried to look at himself and discovered his head didn't work that way. And his arms were fins. And his legs were a tail. And oh, heck, no, there was a huge shark in front of him. He flapped clumsily, trying to get the hang of his new body. He got under the shark's belly ... and saw the blue light of the arc reactor. TONY? Well, that didn't work. Fish talk bubbles were useless. He cautiously tapped his tail against Tony, in a crude Morse code SOS. The shark curved away from him to bite a fish in half.
Namor drifted into sight in front of the shark and hit it on the nose with his staff when it arched its back in threat. Steve was furious. He forgot that fish bubble talk didn't work. Stop that! Turn us back at once! This isn't funny, Namor!
And he heard Namor's voice in his head. If you can lead this brainless fool, you can regain your human forms. If you fail you remain in my kingdom. Namor smirked and started to swim away.
WAIT! Steve bubble shouted, Lead Tony where?
To Liberty, where else? drifted back the mocking mind-words.
Liberty? What? Steve wriggled and started swimming after Tony. At least the blue light made him easy to find. Tony's head turned and one shining, dark eye seemed to focus on him. It was a cold, reptilian stare. Steve gulped. He wasn't a very big fish. Tony could swallow him in one bite.
But he wasn't going to give up on Tony. He gathered his courage and swam underneath Tony again, bumping against the arc reactor in hopes that would jog a memory. He rubbed the top of his head against the reactor. Forward he slid easily, but when he backed he found himself locked in place. He went still for a moment in surprise. Tony resumed swimming, apparently undisturbed by Steve's presence. Oh, heck... he was a remora. Steve didn't know a lot about them, except that they accompanied sharks and probably didn't get eaten by them. So that was nice to know. He hung from Tony's belly, just flipping his fins idly, until he saw a shadowy shape in the water.
The fishing boat! He pushed forward and dropped free from Tony to head over to the boat. They'd transformed in mid-air, so Clint and Natasha must have seen them. He couldn't swim in a straight line, but in a few seconds he'd mastered the art of the sinuous curve. He rose to the surface on the sunlit side of the boat and lay on his side to flap a fin. He could feel the pressure wave of something large coming up behind him, but he refused to be afraid of Tony and continued flapping. It was awkward, and after a few seconds he had to slip back down to flex his fins. Something was wrong... it was too dark... where was the blue light?
Steve swam in a swift circle before locating Tony again. The shark was moving fast, and he was moving away from the boat. In desperation Steve swam until he was level with Tony's eye and then turned back towards the boat. Tony slowed down, twisted and followed Steve. Steve wondered how smart sharks were. Did Tony recognize him at all? Or did they just have an instinct that made them like being near remoras?
He brought Tony back to the fishing boat again. He could hear noise from the boat. It sounded strange to his fish ears, wherever they were, but he could at least tell that it was voices, not engine noises. He got back into the sunlight and flapped SOS. This time there was a shout, and then thumps against the side of the boat in Morse. "R U OK?"
That had to be Clint, who had fun teaching Steve textalk to annoy Tony. It was handy now. "Remora Steve ok. Tony Shark dumb." He meant it in the sense that Tony couldn't communicate, but long words were painful for his poor fin. "Swims off."
Clint thumped back. "CHUM GUD?"
"Tony not hurt me." Steve didn't want them to think he needed protecting.
Thump. "NO. WANT US TO CHUM SEA?"
Oh. Good idea. "YES."
Tony was already drifting away. Steve had to go swim in front of him to lure him back. Dead fish started dropping into the water. Tony immediately arched his back and began gulping down fish. He had a lot of big, sharp teeth. Steve swam under Tony and latched on well out of reach of the teeth until the rain of fish stopped. Then he shook loose and went back to flap messages.
"ONE FSH AT TME." He didn't know if a full fed shark would lose interest in fish, and he was getting an idea. They could lure Tony to follow a trail of fish.
"OK. WHT PLAN?"
Plan... Steve just... he didn't know. "LEAD TONY 2 LIBERTY"
There was a pause, and then the return thumps came, sounding a little faster, a little lighter. Natasha? "LIBERTY ISLAND?"
"YES!" That had to be it. Namor had a sense of humor after all.
"OK. STRTING MOTR. STA CLR." And Clint was back again.
Steve detached from Tony. Which really, it felt nice hooking up to Tony's skin. So strange. He swam off, getting Tony off to the side and well away from the propellors before the ship began moving. Tony was making side to side motions and aiming downwards. Yeah, sharks like to be deep, unless they're feeding. Steve hastily flapped random flaps because the ship was moving and he couldn't swim and spell at the same time. A mackerel flew past him.
Tony lunged for the mackerel. Steve grabbed onto Tony's side. It was weird being dragged along sideways, but heck, he couldn't see much anyway. He could do better by listening. The propellors made a low thrumming noise, and there was the occasional splash of chum keeping Tony on course and close to the surface. Steve began to wonder if he could get Tony to develop a better system for him to ride along with Iron Man-- the hug and fly was fun, but it did limit their in-flight battle effectiveness. Clinging like a suckerfish... no, just... he wasn't enjoying this. A piece of fish came his way and Steve ate it without thinking about it. Tony had taught him about sushi. It didn't taste the same this way, but it was pretty good.
Hanging onto Tony was boring and Steve fell into a sort of doze, broken only when the water began to taste different. If he had a nose capable of wrinkling, he would. What was... oh. They must be approaching New York Harbor. Tony hesitated and then turned, turned away from the smell, away from New York, away from Liberty. Steve flapped against Tony, but it didn't make any difference, his small body probably felt like nothing against Tony's tough hide.
The only... yeah. The only vulnerable places on Tony were his eyes. Steve's fishy heart beat very fast as he pulled loose and then swam directly in Tony's path. For a moment all he saw were teeth, then Tony dove and Steve seized the moment, locking himself upside down on Tony's broad snout and arching his tail down to cover Tony's right eye. From his position he could just barely reach each eye. He couldn't see much, but he could hear the sound of the fishing boat. He'd memorized that noise.
Tony's tail switched and he jerked his head a few times before apparently resigning himself to swimming to the left.
It was exhausting work guiding Tony with tail flap blinders, but finally the ship's engine stopped, and from the pressure changes against his... well, along his sides? Steve could tell they were near an island, waves breaking and coming back.
It had to be Liberty Island. He flapped, but Tony refused to go on. Finally Steve let go to investigate. Oh. The water was shallow. Fine for a little fish like him, but Tony Shark would barely fit. Steve tried poking and prodding, but Tony just kept circling. Fine. Steve bubble talked to himself. I'll go! Maybe he'd turn back by himself, and then... well... it wouldn't be easy, but if he had to wrestle a shark to get Tony back, that's what he'd do.
Steve began swimming for the shore, in as straight as line as his body would allow. He got a few feet away before he was nudged. Tony was following him. Fish don't grin, but Steve felt like it. He kept going. Tony was having a hard time, scraping and actually scrabbling with his fins to get past rocks. There was a lot of splashing. It confused Steve's senses, but he kept going until the green light flashed over him again, and he was kneeling, naked, in the shallow water just beyond the rocks and retaining wall surrounding the Lady. He looked up at her and imagined she was frowning down at him. "Sorry, Ma'am," he said before turning to look behind him.
Tony was sitting in the water, also naked. He had scrapes over his belly and down his arms. He blinked at Steve in a dazed way.
Steve went over to him and patted him down, finding no serious injuries. "The next time I tell you 'that's enough', stop, all right?"
Tony leaned against Steve. "Steve. I was a shark."
"Yes, you were." Steve was relieved that Tony could talk. "And now you're naked, on Liberty Island. So if you don't want us both to be arrested..."
Tony interrupted. "Steve. You were a suckerfish."
"Yes, I was. And as I was saying, we need to find some clothes. Clint and Natasha will..."
"Steve. You sucked on me all the way across the ocean." Tony grinned. "That gives me ideas."
Steve sighed. "Did it give you any idea what happened to my uniform or your suit?"
Tony scrambled to his feet and turned to face the ocean, giving Steve an excellent view of his bare ass. The tourists who had noticed the commotion and wandered over to stare also noticed. Steve gave up and sat on a rock, watching as Tony shook his fist and shouted, "NAMOR, GIVE ME BACK MY STUFF!"