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Back to Before (All's Fair In Love and War)

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After ten straight minutes of knocking, Tony finally gave up. He kicked Steve's locked door, flinching a bit as a sharp pain immediately shot up his leg. "You're going to have to come out of there eventually!" he yelled.

There wasn't any reply.

Tony almost kicked the door again. Since his leg was already throbbing, though, he actually listened to common sense for once and resisted the urge. Barely.

"You can't stay in there forever!"


Tony let out a strangled cry of frustration before stomping off. Or, at least, trying to stomp off. As it was, he made it about five steps before his leg collapsed out from under him and sent him sprawling to the floor with a thud.

Yeah. He probably should have gotten that checked out when the fight had first ended.


"Don't worry, Iron Man," Storm said, reaching out to give his hand a reassuring squeeze as she stood up from the kitchen table. "Just give him some time."

"And stop kicking doors," Wolverine suggested from where he was leaning against the fridge. He narrowed his eyes, studying the growing bruise around Tony's eye from where he'd hit the ground earlier. "Maybe try to cut back on the faceplanting too."

Tony pointedly held up his middle finger. "Bite me."

Wolverine grinned at him and extended one claw. "Isn't that your boyfriend's job?"

"Logan, be quiet," Storm snapped, letting go of Tony's hand as she spun around to glare at Wolverine. The temperature in the room dropped noticeably.

He held his hands in a placating manner, the claw disappearing again.

Tony let his head drop onto the table with a thud.

Storm gently patted him on the head. "It will be fine," she told him. "Dr. Strange said that it shouldn't be permanent, remember?"

"He also said 'probably,'" Wolverine pointed out helpfully.

Tony ignored them both. It was probably better that way.


"There were some loud thuds coming from Cap's room earlier," Giant-Girl said as she dropped down beside Tony on the sofa.

Spider-Man's voice sounded above them. "Yeah, plus there was a lot of glass shattering."

Tony looked up. Spider-Man was hanging on the ceiling directly above him and Giant Girl. It was hard to tell through the mask, but his voice sounded worried at least.

"He won't open the door," Tony said tiredly. "Trust me, I've tried to get him to let me in."

Giant-Girl raised an eyebrow. "Since when do you let a door stop you?"

Tony opened his mouth to reply. Then he closed it. He pointedly ignored the way that Giant-Girl grinned as he stood up and started limping toward the door. Just like he pretended not to see Spider-Man drop from the ceiling into his vacated seat and give her a high-five.


"Come on, Steve, it's been almost a full day!" Tony said, banging his fist against Steve's door. "I swear, if you don't open the door, I'm going to dismantle it. Just see if I don't!"

For a second, Tony thought that he was going to have to go dig out some tools. Then he heard the sound of the door being unlocked.

He stood there for another few seconds, waiting to see if the door was going to open. It didn't. Frowning, he reached out and grabbed the knob.

The door creaked as it opened.

Steve was sitting on his bed, his feet dangling several inches above the floor. He was wearing a Star Wars T-shirt that Spider-Man had lent him, despite it still being a little too large for him. His face was expressionless as he looked up and met Tony's gaze.

"Hey," Tony said, giving him a tentative smile.

Steve's mouth twitched a little but not enough for it to be considered a smile. "Hey."

"That magic guy's spell, uh, hasn't worn off yet, I guess?" Tony asked, flinching as soon as the words were out of his mouth.

Steve's eyes darkened. "You're the genius," he said. "You tell me."

Tony flinched again. "Yeah, maybe I should go."

He had already turned around and was halfway out the door before Steve stopped him. "No, wait," Steve said, the regret in his voice obvious. "That is, I mean--"

Tony didn't turn back around.

"Oh, what the hell," Steve muttered. He sounded more tired than anything else. "Like you said, I can't hide in here forever."

Tony finally glanced behind him, not even trying to hide his relief. "It's about time," he said, giving Steve a hesitant grin. Then he frowned. "Wait, what did you do to your hand?"


Spider-Man gaped at the swathe of white bandages covering Steve's hand. "What did you punch?"

Bruce surreptitiously glanced at Tony's black eye.

Wolverine followed Bruce's gaze. "Naw, he did that to himself," he said, helping himself to some more bacon from the plate in the center of the table. "Fell down the stairs."

"That's a vicious lie!" Tony exclaimed. "There were no stairs involved."

Giant-Girl made a sound that suspiciously resembled a snort.

Steve pointedly coughed. "The mirror in my room, Spider-Man." He looked more than a little sheepish. "I, uh, got a little frustrated with the reflection in it."

"Don't we all sometimes?" Storm asked gently.

Steve didn't meet her gaze. Instead, he looked down at his hand, staring at it.

Tony hesitated a second before reaching over and resting his hand on top of Steve's. Steve glanced up, meeting his gaze. "She's got a point," Tony said quietly.

"Yeah," Steve agreed after a second. "I guess she does."


"I hate magic," Steve said, his voice loud and decisive over the comms despite the fact that he was well away from the fighting.

Tony chuckled as he zapped one of the zombie squirrels currently trying to take over the local kids' playground. "That's my line, isn't it?"

"You're not the one who was turned back into a 90 pound asthmatic because of it," Steve shot back. "I think that I-- Storm, above you! There's another one of those pterodactyls!"

Tony grinned, even though he knew nobody could see it. "Hey, it's not like it's put you out of commission."

There was a pause. "Tony," Steve said, his voice obviously frustrated, "of course it's put me out of commission. I'm sitting here-- Hulk, no! Only smash the live unicorns, not the plastic ones!"

"Cap," Tony said pointedly. "What are you doing right now?"

There was another pause. "I don't know what you're trying to say, Tony, but-- damn it, Wolverine, nudity is not an option even if your clothes were burned off!"

Tony grinned. "You were saying?"

Steve sighed. "Okay, okay. Point taken. Don't let it go to your-- Crap, Tony, to your left!"

Tony jerked just in time to avoid the giant scoop of ice cream the size of a boulder being thrown at him.

Unfortunately, he didn't notice the leprechauns until it was too late.


"I hate magic," Tony muttered, collapsing onto Steve's bed with a groan.

Steve chuckled as he sat down beside him on the bed. "That makes two of us."

"I hate magic," Tony repeated, his face still buried in the blanket. "Did I mention how much I hate magic?"

Steve absentmindedly ran his fingers through Tony's hair. "Maybe once or twice."

Tony sat up abruptly, frowning as he glanced at Steve. Steve pulled his hand away, shooting him a confused look. "What?"

"Okay, that's it," Tony said, clapping his hands together. "Time for sex."

Steve stared at him for a second before glancing down as if to make certain that he hadn't reverted back to his usual self without noticing. "Tony, I don't--"

Tony kissed him.

For a second or two, Steve resisted. Then he gave in, leaning into the kiss.

"Are you sure about this?" Steve asked as he pulled away. He gestured at his body in general. "I'm not exactly--"

"I don't care what you look like!" Tony shot back, his voice a little sharper than he'd intended. "You're still you."

Steve's face suddenly lightened, something very much like relief appearing in his eyes. "Yeah," he said slowly. "I guess that I am."

He kissed Tony.


Steve held up his hand, studying it intently in the dim light coming in through the window. "It's good to be back to normal."

A mumbling sound came from under the blankets, and a second or two later Tony reluctantly poked his head out. "Congratulations on breaking the spell," Tony said, yawning. "Now back to sleep."

Steve ignored him and instead ran a hand over his chest. "I know it's a little cheesy, but I can't help but think--"

Tony glanced over at Steve as he trailed off. Then he sighed. "I'm probably going to regret this, but what do you think?"

Steve gave him a sheepish look. "That it probably means something important that the spell broke after I realized that I was still me, even without the effects of the serum."

Tony nodded. "You're right," he said, his voice as serious as he could make it. "It means that magic sucks."


"What?" Tony asked, yawning again. He pulled the blankets back up around him. "This better not be where you start talking about how the magic was inside you all along, because I'm taking away the TV if you do."

Steve's mouth twitched.

"Of course, you could look at it this way," Tony said thoughtfully. "That's not all that was inside y--"