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Everything's better when you're wet

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It was a brilliantly sunny day, one of the first after a long and cold winter, and the team were bored. For too long they had been cooped up in the tower, with only how far they'd got in their numerous Netflix series to mark the passing of time, and now they were ready and raring to go, desperately planning days out like if they didn't do it in the next hour they would never get the chance.

It was Vision who suggested hiring out a pool. His reasoning was that it would do well to cool them down and get exercise at the same time. Clint's reasoning for immediately agreeing was, quote unquote, "I fucking love swimming!".

Buoyed by Clint's immediate affirmation, Vision wasted no time in persuading Fury to hire a swimming pool for the day, for the safety of the public, and the group were on their way, with a brief stop at a nearby mall to pick up trunks for Pietro, who had managed to forget his, much to Peter's confusion, ("How can you forget to bring trunks they're the most important thing?")

 

Immediately upon getting into the pool, they learnt two things. The first was that it was rather more cold in the water than out of it, as proved by Sam repeating, "cold, cold, cold," until Wanda dunked his head under and held it there until he was either adjusted to the temperature or, more likely, he was too afraid to continue his chant.

The second was that Natasha could hold her breath for an unholy amount of time, swimming one lap and back in one breath just to show off, before flipping a smile, brushing soaked hair out of her eyes and assuring everyone, "I was just warming up." Bucky joined her in swimming laps, choosing to put his energy into racing around the edge as fast as possible rather than staying under the water, and shaking a metallic fist at anyone (i.e. Wade) who dared suggest that maybe his arm was going to rust? The speed with which he could move it assured everyone, especially those concerned and therefore in danger, that there was no risk of corrosion here.

Scott amused himself by performing endless handstands in the water, tottering around on his arms until he eventually overbalanced and body-slammed back down, usually to the digust of whoever was close to him, because while Pietro agreed that yes, he technically was already in the water, that didn't mean he had to be splashed by more of it! How much water could one man take? Scott's acrobatics were brought to a swift end when he neatly backheeled Bruce, who was calmly performing water aerobics, and therefore was guilted into joining in with said aerobics. He wasn't really complaining though, preferring instead to constantly ask Bruce 'do I look pretty yet'.

Thor was havoc. Everyone within a two metre radius of him was enthusiastically splashed to within an inch of their lives, and he enjoyed ducking under only to reapper mere centimetres from someone's face, leading to the phrase "tidal wAVE!" to be used far more frequently than expected, until everyone had learnt to immediately dive under. This only served to heighten Thor's amusement, however, because why would one duck under the water to avoid being splashed by the water? Surely this defeats the point? He may never understand his colleagues.

Vision, unbeknownst to Thor, was using his antics as a front. Whenever Thor was facing the other way, Vision would sneakily chose a victim and splash them, immediately blaming it on Thor after because really, who would blame Vision? Besides, it wasn't completely a lie, Thor had probably splashed them too. At some point.

 

When this had first been suggested, Tony was less than impressed. Water wasn't really his thing, the kidnapping had really taken his love of swimming and turned it into somewhat of a deathly fear, or what have you, but pools usually had bars and a place to sunbathe so really, who was he to complain? However, it turned out that the only person with more of a problem with pools than him was their leader.

It took Tony longer than he was proud of to notice it. This isn't to say it took him long, more like a few minutes, but still. He wanted to be there for Steve the way Steve was there for him, without fail and immediately. The first thing he saw was how shallow Steve's breathing had become the second the water came into sight. Was he ill? He'd been fine the whole way there, plus he was a super soldier, could he even get ill? The next thing he noticed was the way Steve's hands were balled into fists and tucked at his sides, nails digging into his palm as he squeezed tighter. His face was pale, his eyes wide, his chest heaving...Tony sprang into action, tugging Steve around a corner so that they couldn't be seen as he pressed his hands to Steve's cheeks, forcing Steve to look at him with his unfocussed blue eyes, looking deep into them as he repeated,

"It's going to be okay. There's nothing wrong. Nothing's going to hurt you. Hey, hey, Steve, look, I'm here. I'd never let anything hurt you. They have to come through me first. Nothing's going to happen." His low, soothing voice calmed Steve, and eventually he flicked his eyes down and then back to Tony, and relaxed.

"I...I know. I'm sorry."

"What's wrong?"

"I don't really like water," Steve flinched away suddenly, eyes darting everywhere as though searching for an escape route. "It's heavy."

Tony's immediate urge was to say that if anything, water was weightless, not heavy, state some mumbo-jumbo about gravity and density and all that jazz, but he quelled the impulse, waiting for whatever Steve would say next, knowing that an explanation was coming and he could do more good listening than he could dismissing.

"When the plane crashed," Steve's voice quavered, "the water hit me so fast and so cold. I couldn't lift my chest to breathe, it felt so heavy. I know this is just a pool, but..." frantically, he ran a hand through his hair, biting his lip in a way that would have been so hot if he didn't look so forlorn that Tony felt a desire to punch the Atlantic Ocean just for giving Steve a reason to look like this. Another time, maybe.

"Steve," he didn't look up, or respond, so Tony changed tack, "babe." Steve glanced at him, the pet-name causing the ghost of a smile to dance over his lips. "I understand. I don't really like the water either. But it's okay. We'll get over it together, yeah?" Steve took a deep breath, offered the same bracing grin back at Tony, and took his outstretched hand.

"Together."

Tony got in first, one foot at a time down the ladder, forcing himself to gaze up and Steve and not at the unknown blue that was currently swallowing his calf, his thigh, his back. Don't look scared, he muttered to himself, or Steve will freak.

It worked. By some miracle, Tony was standing on the floor of the pool, water coming up to his waist, and Steve was joining him, hesitantly at first but faster as he began to trust Tony's encouragement. And when the two stood there, facing each other with no fears between them, he kissed him hard, letting his gratefulness and relief flood into the kiss which could have lasted seconds, or hours, or years. "Thank you," Steve whispered, foreheads pressed together, "for not making me feel weak. And for helping me get over it."

"You're never weak," Tony whispered back, feeling giddy with happiness, "you're the strongest guy I'll ever know. And if I get to help with that, even a little bit, I'm honoured." And thank you too, his mind chimed in, for helping me get over it. Even if you don't know that.

 

With the exeption of the two lovebirds at the shallow-end, everyone was experiencing a terrifying phenomenon. They would be standing in the pool, miding their own business, when suddenly a presence was felt below them, and they would be jerked under. Moments later they would emerge, coughing and spluttering. Spookily, whenever this happened Wade mysteriously disappeared, reappearing about a minute later with a shit-eating grin on his face, but the puzzle of what was doing this was never solved.

Sam, Wanda, Pietro and Peter got into a water battle, with Peter on Pietro shoulders and Sam on Wanda's as the four tackled and shoved at each other, crying out victoriously every time the other's tower toppled precariously into the water, only to climb back together stronger than ever.

As the day turned to a close, Clint proposed a game of water polo. With the teams set out and a few vague rules put in place, (no-one knew how to play but Clint didn't care), the game began, violent and entertaining and with absolutely no scoring system. The only one that wasn't playing was Scott, who could instead be seen in miniature form, surfing the waves caused by his team-mates' kerfuffle on a leaf he had found floating in the pool.

And if, when they got back, a few people had some bruises, it was a small price to pay, Fury supposed. Captain America and Iron Man were less afraid of the water now.