They are all bunched up on a helicarrier, glaring at one another.
"Why aren't you flying solo?" Bruce asked. His eyebrow rose when he received no answer but the shoulder of the flashy armor, he quieted. He thought to himself, eyes traveling over the smooth curves and dips of the suit.
He always knew Tony got twitchy and flustered when he was upset.
His ability to speak so eloquently (no matter how rude) vanished, his mask faded at the edges and his temper was short. It was like being upset short circuited the genius's brain, causing all systems to shut down.
Emotions get in the way and frankly, Tony doesn't know how to handle them when he's not panicking.
"I rushed on, I wasn't-" Tony sighed in annoyance, "I should be flying. I'm starting to regret it too because Clint you're flying like a grandma who's blind."
"Go fuck yourself," Clint said dryly, keeping an eye on the monitors and adjusting switches.
"I would have been there already, serving Loki his own ass and with Steve on my shoulders."
"You can't do that."
"I can't do that? Who are you to tell me what I can and can't do? I don't care!" Tony grounded out, sounding like a petulant child.
"We can't just rush in there," Natasha argued, hand tightening on her gun in anger, "Loki is better than that."
"It's always seemed to work before," Tony replied casually, "And he has Steve. We don't have time to have a slumber party and discuss plans of attack while painting each other's-"
"Guys?" Clint asked.
"Shut your mouth Stark!" Natasha snapped over the archer, "Fury gave us orders to get Steve as quickly as possible-"
"Which means going in and getting out!"
"Which means having some sort of plan!"
"Hey," Clint said again, switching monitors. He glanced at Bruce who was now looking at them too.
"Hey, guess what? Our plan maker, our good Captain? He's currently being held hostage!"
"And you're letting anger get the better of your common sense. Shut up and think."
"Nat, let him go," Clint said suddenly.
The two arguing looked over at the archer, insults dying in their throats.
"Wow, even he agrees!" Tony finally said holding up a hand to point at the agent.
"I do not. You are an idiot and Natasha is always right. What I mean is Thor is pulling away and he isn't slowing down."
"Hah! Thunder Buddy knows what's up," Tony snapped, face plate sliding down with a clunk. Clint punched the hatch and the doors opened. A crack of lightening confirmed everyone that Thor was angry and he was ready to go.
Tony would be calling down his own lightening had he been a god.
The engineer saluted, stepping off and shooting out into the darkened sky. The sun was beginning to go down, and it had been far too long Steve was with Loki. Well over 24 hours in fact, and it was just disconcerting.
Tony was big enough to let SHIELD do their thing in tracking the tracker they had on Steve's little wrist, but honestly it took too damn long.
Loki, to put it simply, liked a show. A drama queen- as Tony once said when Steve was an adult and hated Tony- and the fact that he hadn't sent any video's or tapes inducing more uproar towards Tony's life was beyond him. If word got out that Tony's 'kid' was kidnapped by the very alien that they locked away early on… Well, it just wouldn't look good at all.
The place they were heading was a sewage and chemical wastes plant in the middle of the country side. A few SHIELD agents explained to them that 43 workers lives were lost after Loki swooped in and made the place his temporary home.
His freaky alien buddies had a hand in it.
"Guys, I'm flying around and don't see jack shit. Thor must've gone in already," Tony said, speaking over the comm.
"Are there any signs of activity involving chemicals? That can lead us into a different situation entirely," Bruce responded.
"Nada," the man replied, "Just a lot of lights that are not on and-" He was cut off by a loud boom. "I believe that'd be Thor kicking someone's ass."
He flew down to the- oh wow big massive and newly placed- hole in the roof of the plant and zipped into it. He was immediately jumped on by several aliens and he grunted. He shucked them off, but one latched on and clawed at his suit's boot. The thruster sparked and with a screeching cry, Tony kicked off the alien with the dead boot. He was running on one thruster and two repulsors now.
"Oh? So the whole family is coming to the party? I thought it was just my dysfunctional brother joining us on this fine evening," Loki snickered, from his place on the metal hanger. Steve was in his arms, limp and looking like a frightened kitten. Tony briefly wondered if the kid's fever was back, or if he was just going into shock from being abducted by a god and held captive by aliens.
It was probably both.
"You like this? Stealing little kids? I think you've got other problems besides that power hunger craze," Tony called as he grabbed two creatures and collided them together. He blasted another one heading toward him and he looked around. "Jesus, where the hell are all of these freaks coming from? They're like god damned cockroaches!"
"They are not from this realm," Thor informed.
"I gathered that much, thank you," Tony said taking off into the air.
"You are right to compare them to your cities insects. They are foul, disgusting creatures that breed at an alarming rate," Thor added, chucking one at a group of three. The familiar blades of the quinjet sounded and both looked up to see Clint sliding down on a line.
"Have no fear, Hawkeye is here," he called dramatically. He released two arrows and the hanger Loki was hanging shook as they exploded. Bits and pieces of scaly skin flew everywhere.
"Easy archer, I have your Captain!" Loki teased, his bony hands gripping tighter at Steve. The child winced and Tony all but snarled. He shot at two more aliens and whipped back around to glare at Loki on his perch.
"Just put him down asshat, and we'll let you maybe get away with only a few bruises!"
"So I can be placed in another cage, under lock and key of Odin? That is indeed a hilarious notion, Man of Iron," he barked.
"That's a fact, not a notion," Tony said shooting at the metal bar holding the hanger Loki stood on. He blinked out and appeared at the other end of a stable one.
"We aren't gonna be able to snatch him if he's got that bracelet on," Clint grumbled.
"Where's Tash?" Tony asked suddenly, quietly, only so the archer could hear. Clint looked around briefly before he began to smirk. He shrugged his shoulders after that and Tony raised an eyebrow beneath the face plate. So, the three of them had a plan.
"Does Bruce know how to fly the quinjet?" Tony asked amused.
"Come on, really? You aren't the only genius on the team Stark. Even Steve could fly that thing," he snorted. He shot at an alien jumping towards them and the arrow separated, effectively hitting four others.
"Thor, keep trying to get a hold of Loki," Tony said, with a smirk of his own.
"He has Steven."
"He's also got that teleporting Rolex, so fire away. He'll move," Tony said clapping him on the soldier. "Steve will be fine."
Thor, trusting Tony, threw his hammer at the beam supporting the hanger Loki was on. When it began to fall, Loki disappeared and then showed up by the doorway of a control room. Thor's hammer flung back down to his ready hand, and Tony shot at Loki next. The prankster was already traveling to his next spot, his laughter cut off.
"You fools are going to bring this building down!" he called, a top of a machine now. He scratched at rust on its side, smiling to himself. "Is that what you're playing at? Bring the whole place down?"
"I don't know, you tell us," Clint snapped swooping down. His booted feet were aimed at the black haired gods head. Loki easily ducked, but startled when the child in his arms screamed again.
"Quiet!" Loki all but snarled. Steve practically went white, mouth clicking shut.
"Hey dickhead, don't yell at him!" Tony snapped repulsor aimed at the god's head. Loki's snickers escaped along with him and Steve, effectively dodging the attack with grace.
Blow after a blow, Loki was able to escape. After a few mumbles and grumbles from the three continuously aiming at him, they noticed that the black haired man was beginning to get flustered. The team, getting worn down from fighting the aliens and shooting at Loki took note of this.
"Keep at it, we've got it," Tony called, eyes darting around the ceiling of the plant. "JARVIS, where's Widow at?"
"Directly overhead you, Sir," was the AI's swift response. Tony gave a few seconds licking his lips as he caught his breath. He punched and aliens lights out and sighed.
"Gotcha," Clint (unbeknownst at the same time) and Tony whispered.
Iron Man aimed a red and gold gauntlet Loki's head.
Loki, having automatically assumed the man was going to shoot, went to slap his transporter only to have a hand slapped down before his.
A small petite hand, with neatly cut nails and pale skin.
"Not anymore," Natasha all but snarled, pulling her hand away and swinging down from the hanger out of the prankster's reach. The little circular device she clasped on to the transporter beeped and sparks flew as it was rendered useless.
"Cocky little bastard, where's you're get away clown car now?" Clint asked, hopping down on the other end of the hanger. Loki backed up- directly into his brothers chest. He swung around, hopping just out of Thor's reach.
Loki had Steve by the neck, a long slim dagger pressed against the delicate skin of his throat. The child's breaths were coming out in wheezy, sick pants.
"Not, a step, closer," the trickster breathed, licking his lips.
"You wouldn't dare," Clint said lowly. The god gave a defiant glare to his brother, and tightened his old on the now squirming child.
The building, with debris crumbling down, began to shudder under the damage it's taken.
"Change him back, now," Thor demanded darkly.
"The spell has not yet run its course. You know I can-"
"You are lying! I have gained knowledge of the type of spell you have placed upon Steven during my search for you from many sorcerers and witches. It is something that must be done, and we have done it."
Wreckage of the teams chase began to gather on the dusty and gritty floors of the factory at a faster rate.
"You do not safely have the little one, now do you? I understand you think this is not a bad position from your point of view, but this is a mortal child, brother. They do not heal like we do," Loki explained smoothly.
"Just, let him go," Thor breathed, hand tightening on his hammer's handle.
"Maybe I take pleasure in watching you fools run around like rodents with their heads chopped off!"
"Tony," Bruce called over the comm., "The building isn't looking to hot from outside. You guys should get out of there."
"We're working on it Bruce," Tony said. "J. Keep a lock on the structures of the buildings. You tell me when they begin to crumble beyond return, capiche?"
Loki glanced down to see Tony looking around and stepping out of the way of falling ruins.
"If you insist."
Loki, will a small smile, let go, letting the child fall from the hanger. Tony's head whipped around and he quickly shot off into the air and caught Steve with a dull thunk before he met the floor. Steve wide eyed and flushed, looked at the face plate in fear. "Uncle Tony?" he whispered hoarsely.
"It's me kid, have no fear Iron Man's here."
The child gave a weak giggle, head falling against the armor.
"It was worth a shot," Loki sighed looking at Iron Man floating across from him in disdain. Tony lowered them to the ground and put Steve down. The child gripped at the warm metal of his uncles leg, frowning.
Thor shot forward and grabbed Loki by the arms.
"You are coming back to Asgard, right now," Thor snarled, reprimanding his pain in the ass brother.
"That is quite an idea you have. You think I'm going to go-" Loki was cut off as a sharp pain laced up his pale neck.
"Morphine, enough to drop and 3 elephants in 1 minute flat," Natasha smiled wickedly, pulling away the syringe. "That's twice I've snuck up on you Loki. Looks like I'm getting better or you're getting worse," she added.
"Probably both," Clint snorted.
"Guys you've gotta get out of there now!" Bruce called over the team's communications. At the same time JARVIS informed Tony of the building's condition.
"Sir, the structure of the building as officially given way. It will collapse in 4.3 minutes."
"You wretched woman," Loki murmured, tongue becoming heavy. His struggling ceased. Green eyes slowly dropped shut and he collapsed against Thor. Thor knew better than to believe that his brother would be out for as long as the drug intended. Human medicine rarely worked on Gods.
He pointed his hammer towards the sky, and shot off, most likely heading off world for a while. The four of them watched and Tony cursed quietly.
There was an eerie creak as metal hangers began to give way and fall. Machines were crushed under the cement and metal pipes falling from the ceiling. Tony scooped Steve up into his arms and made to fly away. He successfully made it out, dropping Steve off on the quinjet as he flew back down into the building.
"Oh I thought you left us for dead like Thor," Clint said dryly, "Take Nat first."
"Stay away from big machines hawkass. Be back in a second," Tony warned, grabbing Natasha before she could protest.
"You could have taken us both," she snapped as he put her down on the quinjet.
"My left thruster is broken Tasha," he retorted, flying back down. It was hard enough flying straight with only one boot working.
"Sir, 2.1 minutes until demolition," JARVIS informed.
"Got it. Turn on the heat scanners I can't see a damn thing through this dust," Tony demanded, "Also, any chemical or waste activity going on?"
"No sir. Both items were removed prior to your encounter with Loki."
"Ah there's the little chick," Tony said flying down. He paused when the archer didn't move and worry shot though him.
Clint was stuck.
"You know, I said to stay away from machines," Tony grunted. He tried to lift the piping from the hanger crushing the archer's arm, only to find it stuck under a thicker pipe used to run chemicals through.
"You're lucky I'm even awake," Clint grunted, spitting blood slightly. "I think it's caught in between another pipe. I can't feel anything so that means it's broken beyond repair, or I'm fine."
He wiggled his fingers, trying to find them through the tangled and jutting pipes. He knew it was good news to be able to actually move them.
Now, will he live long enough to be able to use them?
"Let's hope for the ladder," Tony said, using lasers to begin cutting the thick metal pipe.
"Worried, I'm touched. Totally got a concussion though," Clint grunted. "And probably damaged lungs from all this chemical shitty debris."
"You'll be fine," Tony grunted kicking aside the pipe. He began cutting the next section off, carefully avoiding Clint's arm.
"Sir, 1 minute and 30 seconds remaining," JARVIS said, worry lacing his robotic tone.
"God damn it!" he cursed when the laser clicked off and the cartridges popped out. Clint shot a look at the billionaire and frowned. The brunette began blasting the hanger with his repulsors.
"45 seconds sir."
He kicked away the debris and lifted it with a bit of struggle, hoping he wasn't taking Clint's arm with it.
"Move your arm Clint," Tony grunted as the archer carefully slipped it out.
"Alright I'm out," Clint said stumbling up holding it. He could barely see through the thick clouds, and he coughed as he inhaled some dust. "Jesus, let's get out of here."
Tony dropped the wreckage in his arms with a loud crunch and bang.
"No shit," Tony said, wrapping an arm around the blonde's waist. He shot off into the sky, narrowly avoiding a pipe falling towards them. As he shot away from that, a chunk of cement hit his shoulder and they crashed to the ground.
"Fucking- Barton! You alright?" Tony snapped hurrying looking at the archer on top of him.
"Peachy," was his clipped reply.
"10 seconds sir, 9, 8, 7-"
He gasped as a hanger fell towards them and rolled to tossed Clint to the side. He shot out from beneath it, barely managing to get on top of Clint before the rest of the building gave way.
Bruce and Natasha stared in horror.
"D-Don't let him look!" Bruce snarled, pointing at Steve. Natasha held Steve away from the window, face passive as the building collapsed. She buried her nose in his hair, lulling him softly in Russian as the child shook in her arms.
"Steve?" she asked softly.
When the child did not respond, she noticed he was deathly pale. His eyes were dim and his pupils were dilated.
"Fuck," she said swiftly. She laid the child down on the floor and hurried over to the bins and dug through them. "Bruce make sure he doesn't thrash around!"
"I- yeah," he grunted after sending SHIELD and distress signal. He held Steve's bony shoulders as the child's mouth clamped shut and eyes widened in shock. His breaths were coming out in short harsh pants through his nose and his eyes were out of focus.
The doctor could feel energy thrum through the child's body, and it was like his pale skin began to glow.
Natasha hurriedly tossed a blanket over the kid, and pulled Bruce back.
They stumbled slightly when a bright yellowish light enveloped Steve's trembling frame. Bruce held a hand up to shield his eyes and Natasha looked away faintly.
"I think, yeah," Natasha responded quietly.
Slowly, the shining ebbed and both adults let their eyes readjust to darkened quinjet.
There before them lied Steve Rogers.
He was blinking, staring up at the ceiling most likely disoriented before passing out.
"Avengers, come in. Stark- someone answer their god damn communicator!" Fury's voice rang. Bruce, broken from his trance, hurried over to the comm.
"Banner here. Tony and Clint were in a building that just collapsed. We need a search, med and clean up team down here."
"Oh do you? And where's Loki."
"I'm presuming he's half way to Asgard with Thor. We have Steve," Bruce breathed, "He's, not a child anymore."
Natasha found herself frowning at the words.
"Teams are headed your way. Try to get ahold of Stark?"
"Fury out," Nick said and the line went dead.
Bruce glanced back over his shoulder at Natasha still staring at Steve. He got to work in trying to get in touch with Tony, doing everything in his power.
"Jesus fucking- Where the hell am I? Heaven looks a lot like my bedroom."
"Well there's not lap dancers or booze in here at the moment, but that's what it'd normally look like right?" Bruce's gentle voice came. Tony blinked a few times, vision blurry. He coughed and licked his lips.
"Banner? What-! Where's Clint?"
"He's fine. Natasha's giving him Advil for his concussion. His arm's got a minor sprain, he's fine."
"We're in Avengers Tower?"
"Good, good, I see you're feeling better with stating the obvious."
"Touchy. How long was I out?" Tony groaned placing a hand over his face.
He went to move only to have a firm hand press against his chest. He looked at the hand, and then up the muscular arm to a face.
"Two days," Bruce said swiftly. Tony would have cursed but he was staring at a familiar face in awe.
"I'm gone for a few days and you're throwing yourself under buildings?" Steve teased softly.
Tony stared at him for a long minute, tongue not quite sure how to form words.
There Steve was, with his kind smile, simple button down and jeans.
"Oh my god you have no idea how awesome it is to hear you speak," Tony breathed. His eyes traced over familiar blue orbs, a strong jaw and collar bones leading to a muscular chest before flicking back up. "When?"
"Shortly after the building fell down," Bruce informed.
"I missed Steve buckass nude? To save Clint's scrawny ass?"
"Natasha had put a blanket over him before he even changed back," Bruce said dryly. He clapped Steve on the shoulder who rolled his eyes. "Should have seen it. Hurt worse than looking in to the sun when he started glowing. By the way Tony, your legs broken. I'm going to check on Clint." He fled the room before Tony could start yelling at him.
"My legs broken? What the actual fuck Bruce, when did- Oh I spy Pepper Potts."
Indeed he did, with her long legs clothed in black dress pants accompanied with a pretty dark red blouse.
"Steve! You're back to normal!" she squealed hugging him. He smiled and gave her a modest hug before nodding. "How do you feel? Everything's back to its proper size?" she teased. She laughed a bit louder upon seeing his flush.
"You know, I'm the one lying in bed with a broken leg!"
"But I heard you from down the hallway, so you must be fine."
"What has my life become," he breathed head falling back against his pillow. Pain shot up his leg and he whined.
"What happened? I heard a building fell on you and Clint? Natasha called and told me you were fine but I was still worried," Pepper admitted crossing her arms.
"A building collapsed on me and Clint. It wasn't like we were doing it for the thrill."
"Yeah, SHIELD found you on top of Clint. He would've died had you not been stuck over him. It took longer to get you out because your leg was crushed under piping that damaged the suit by the way…" Steve trailed off.
"Ah, well at least that gives me something to do while I'm on bed arrest."
"I know what I said Cap."
"Coulson's alright too," Pepper piped up, "He picked me up at the airport. He explained what happened."
"Good," Tony breathed, "Really don't like funerals."
"What happened to Phil?" Steve asked in alarm. Both Pepper and Tony looked at him thoughtfully for a moment.
"You don't remember anything?" Tony questioned, sitting up slowly. He hissed and gripped at his thigh right where the cast started.
Steve looked bashful for a moment before shaking his head.
"After, after Loki hit me with what de-aged me, it's all blank."
"Sorry about not listening by the way," Tony murmured after a minute.
"You were an adorable kid if it makes you feel better Steve," Pepper chuckled, rubbing his shoulder. "Not a problem to take care of you. Makes me want to actually have kids."
Steve gave her a kind smile and Tony rolled his eyes.
"Pepper, be gone! Handle the press, tell them all the lies you want. Tell them Steve's in a witness protection program with a new family. Don't let me see another Super Daddy magazine with my face plastered on it ever again!" Tony said shooing her with the flip of a hand.
"You're so lucky you're cute," she grumbled, leaning down to press a kiss to the mechanic's temple. She straightened and turned to the soldier. "Good to see you again Steve."
"And you, Pepper," he waved. After she left, Tony spoke.
"We should talk. But first I think you need to make me a chicken sandwich because I haven't had one since the last time you made them."
"Sure, sure," Steve laughed as he strode from the room.
The evening went terribly slow after that, and to Tony's dismay he found himself missing Steve when he was a child. It was almost like he was lonely, and it was disconcerting since the child used to be plastered to his side.
It was like something was missing, and Tony never liked that feeling.
Steve had given him his chicken sandwich a while ago, and Tony complained of the pain in his leg so the blonde let him be. It was like rolls had been reversed.
Except Tony had usually always been the whiny kid now that he thought about it.
Later, Steve was sitting by the window in the living room watching the rain, rubbing his hands together like he still had arthritis. It was more of a habit.
"How do you feel?"
"Strange. I have a head ache. You should be laying down Tony."
He didn't have to look to know who it was. That drawled out, tenor voice was no others but Tony's.
"Advil doesn't really work on you does it?" he asked avoiding the bit about the laying down.
The soldier shook his head and leant back in the chair, staring out the window. The rain clinked and clunked against the glass, streaking down it, causing the other buildings to look morphed.
The lights of the city looked pretty and soft.
Steve jumped when a gentle tune rung in the quietness of the living room.
It was odd, the tower being so quiet. He supposed everything was calmer now, with Loki gone and the past couple of days abruptly being put to a stop.
He turned to see Tony, sitting at the piano with his back facing him.
He wore a well-worn blue t-shirt and a pair of gray sweatpants that seemed too long for his legs.
"You play?" Steve asked tentatively, but it was more of a statement. In the back of his head, his thoughts snickered, 'of course you idiot!'
He had always wondered why Tony had had a piano in his living room if he never used it.
He felt bad for it, considering its beauty and lovely shine. It was pleading to everyone that past it throughout their long, sometimes uneventful, sometimes chaotic days. It begged to be played, for you to listen to its story only you had the power to help it tell.
"I had lessons when I was a kid, my mother wanted me to, broaden my horizons," Tony shrugged, letting his fingers linger over the pale keys. "It stuck I guess."
Steve got up, sitting down beside the brunette on the bench, and staring at the keys.
The engineer had grease smudged over his dark eyebrows, and his face was soft, rid of the harsh wrinkles caused by stress.
Steve jumped, momentarily forgetting Tony was just beside him, despite the fact he had been staring. He felt as if Tony should be a lot bigger at the moment, looking down at him like he was a child, ready to be taught.
"Play, do you play?"
Steve looked back at the keys once more, hand coming up to hover over them.
He placed it back in his lap and shook his head.
"No?" Tony asked surprised. Steve's eyes dared a glance, and his own met the genius'.
"Not for a long time."
"How long?" Tony asked, almost before Steve even finished his sentence. The blonde swallowed uncomfortably, getting that strange feeling again.
The one where he remembered Tony knew everything.
He couldn't possibly know, could he?
"I played a lot as a child," Steve answered, pressing the tips of his fingers to the piano. "During the war, when we'd be drinking, me and Bucky would play something to amuse the guys."
"Doesn't Bucky find it girly?"
Steve's hands came down hard on the keys abruptly.
Brown eyes, so very different from the pair beside him, stared down at him, teasing and just a tad bit hurtful.
They had been little, 7 maybe.
Bucky had been upset with him, because Steve neglected to come outside and play.
"What are you gonna do then? Sit inside and play piano all day? Steve, it's girly! Something dames do!"
Steve swallowed, coming back to the present, listening to Tony's fingers glide across the keys casually.
"How did you know that?"
He felt exposed, open, like a safe without a lock, a window without its shudders.
"A little birdy told me," Tony replied, running a hand through his hair.
"I've never told anyone that."
"Are you sure?"
Steve opened his mouth, and then shut it. He blinked a few times, staring down hard at the piano, like it had whispered the memory to Tony.
"You told us when you were stuck pint sized," Tony said pursing his lips, and then opening them with a 'pop'. "In that heinous but rather adorable Brooklyn accent of yours. You would just prattle along, without a care in the word. You know Rogers, for a kid so shy you sure had a helluva lot to say."
Steve flushed, shutting his mouth that had fallen open with a click.
"It isn't a big deal," Tony shrugged, "We all did things that were considered utterly embarrassing when we were little," he admitted, waving his hand. He shrugged a little bit and sniffed.
Tony had a way with talking.
The way he flung his arms and hands around expressively, it was just rather amusing.
"What did you do?"
"I'm afraid that story is for another day."
"Well that isn't fair," Steve pouted.
"Life's not fair buttercup."
"Believe me. I know."
Tony tensed slightly and a frown marred his once relaxed face.
"I was 8, when I was first harassed because I was undeniably a genius, and well, a bit, eccentric."
"Oh?" Steve asked amused raising an eyebrow, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but-"
"Words are fucked up, and I'm warning you about it now, sweetheart," Tony said dryly. Bruises and cuts healed, but the damage that words did to a little kid, a teen, a man… That'll always be with you until the day you die.
"I know," Steve repeated softly, hands resting in his lap.
"I know you do," Tony swallowed, looking at the blonde.
"Well of course, everyone's made fun of in the course of their life."
"That isn't what I mean Cap," Tony said quietly. "Play me something?"
Steve stared at him got a long minute, noticing the brunettes eyes would not focus on one thing for too long.
"How much did I say as a kid?" Steve asked quietly, letting his fingers play a tune low in the register on the piano. It was beautiful, dark and rich.
Tony watched his fingers play the same melody over and over again before picking it up and playing it in a higher octave in canon.
The result was rather pretty, and it alarmed Steve at first.
"Quite a bit," Tony finally answered. The blonde had almost forgotten he had asked a question. "I've been, wondering," Tony swallowed, hands falling into his lap. He watched Steve's bigger hands come to a slow stop. The music hung in the air and Tony waited to speak until it was completely gone. "All the times you caught me screwing myself up in the lab, did you- were you speaking from experience?"
"I'm not going to talk about that Tony. You of all people should know what it's like when people start asking questions," Steve said crossly, standing swiftly and beginning to walk away.
"It turns you bitter, hard, sour, and that's not something I want to happen to you!" Tony snapped as he stood wobbly. He took a few steps toward the blonde and nearly collapsed at the pain in his leg. He leant against the sturdy wood of the piano taking in a shallow breath.
"You're better than that Steve, better than all of us," Tony admitted quietly.
The soldier turned around, muscles tense, and he quickly stepped forward to help Tony to the couch.
He propped Tony's leg up and rolled the pant leg back gently.
"Rogers my hero," Tony murmured under his breath, voice a register higher than normal.
"You had Bruce check this out again?" Steve asked quietly, all malice gone from his words. He was fingering the cast.
"Yep, still hurts like a bitch though," Tony grumbled, watching Steve's fingers smooth over the bandages.
He winced and Steve's vibrant eyes shot up.
"I don't know how Pepper does it," Steve said weakly, "You are more work than Bucky ever was, and that's saying something," he chuckled.
It wasn't a sad chuckle either, so Tony patted himself on the back mentally. He didn't need Steve thinking he was crazier than he was.
"Saying I'm your best friend honey buns?" Tony teased, watching Steve's fingers roll down his pant leg over the bandages.
"Sadly," Steve said dryly, causing Tony to feign hurt, "You probably added about 10 years on to the 70 already lost," he sighed leaning back slightly, still staring at the brunette's leg.
Steve's eyes met his.
Tony laughed an honest open laugh, because that was an honest open statement.
There was something about people not taking the shit he dished out that he liked.
It started in the third grade when he met Rhodey in gym and called him an idiot for taking apart the tennis ball machine.
They stuck together like glue for many years to come.
When he was 21, freaking out and reaching a new level of stress due to the company being dropped on him by Obadiah, he met Pepper. Beautiful, young, strong headed Virginia Potts.
She had told him upfront that she would not get his coffee if he insisted on being a douche bag to her and everyone they ran into.
She bossed him around.
They were still friends today.
Steve, well Steve was something else.
He was probably more stubborn than Pepper and Rhodey combined, the motherly soldier wrapped up all in an American flag and a pair of not so innocent blue eyes.
It started with hurtful words like always, and a wonderful friendship had blossomed.
"I was, 6," Steve said quietly, more uncomfortable than Tony had ever seen.
It was like he had been stripped of his muscles and title, and he was just little sickly Steve Rogers from 1940's Brooklyn. Almost as if he was a child, and in that moment Tony remembered Steve was only 23.
Not 6, but 23, and still a kid trying to find a way in a world that wasn't even his own.
"I didn't realise what he was doing was considered wrong until I was about 9," he continued hesitantly. "I just knew it had made my mother upset and so I hated him for it."
Tony's mouth closed, and he crossed his arms.
"Did he hit you?"
Tony already knew the answer but some sick part of him wanted to hear Steve explain it.
The blonde simply nodded.
He didn't make any motion to speak.
"I'm sorry," Tony said, and the words tasted horrible on his tongue, so he quickly spoke again. "I mean, I'm not giving you pity. You of all people don't need it, but I am actually, you know, sorry. Because that sucks, and no one should have to deal with that type of shit, but hey it made you tough, stubborn as shit and hell, the man you are today so technically, or well maybe you wouldn't be here if he didn't, do, what he did, because without Howard being a an asshole with a capital A, I know I wouldn't have been and well-"
"Tony, you're rambling."
"Yeah I have a tendency to do that," Tony said breezily, pursing his lips eyes widening slightly. His hands had come to rest in his lap, having been flinging his arms around before as he spoke. He picked dirt out from underneath his nail.
Tony's head snapped up.
"Really, I know the whole feelings thing is a lot of work for you," Steve sighed dramatically.
Tony opened his mouth to retort only to pause and raise an eyebrow.
"What's this? Steve Roger's being sarcastic? I didn't know they taught that in boy scouts!"
He was astonished.
"For the record, and I wish I had a video camera, I never was a boy scout," he chuckled. "Didn't like the idea of camping. As an asthmatic, pollen is your own worst enemy."
Tony laughed softly at that and leant back on the soft cushions of the couch.
"You know I meant it."
"All of it. Anything you aren't sure about. You being better than us, that you're stubborn as hell, that you were an adorable kid, that your mother must've been a tough ass woman to raise you like she did and have you come out normal…"
"That's an awful amount of compliments from you Tony. Are you feverish?" Steve snorted pressing a hand to the brunettes head.
"Ah fuck off. I mean it though," he grumbled crossing his arms and shrugging out of the touch.
"You know. I don't think Tony Stark any other way would be Tony Stark."
"You're getting deep there Rogers. Care to elaborate?"
"I'm not better than you guys," Steve sighed, rolling Tony's pant leg back down. "We all have our own ways with dealing… Some ways worse than others, but we all deal, you know? All of us have had problems and things we couldn't handle, but look where you are," Steve chuckled, leaning back against the couch. "You're sitting right here next to me on the couch, and they're down the hall. You're still here, fighting on the right side and becoming role models to kids."
Tony was quiet for a minute, watching Steve fiddle his thumbs in his lap. He smiled to himself, licking his lips.
"You know," Steve paused, "My friend Bucky? He told me, it doesn't matter how screwed up you are. How much you've been stepped on and thrown aside. Doesn't matter how bitter you become. As long as you know at the end of the day you know who the hell you are and why things are the way there are."
A near memory of a blonde child prattling on about his best buddy surfaced and Tony's smile grew.
"Can I get that embroidered on a pillow?" Tony asked suddenly.
"What?" Steve snorted.
"No- wait seriously. JARVIS you recorded that right? That was like some serious deep shit. I'm gonna get a sweater with that on it."
"You're crazy," Steve sighed sitting up. "By the way Tony, even if Howard was a dick, someone must have done something right because you're clearly good dad."
Tony sputtered and looked up at the blonde with a raised eyebrow.
"I accessed the buildings security cameras," Steve grinned roguishly, "Like a blast from the past, but yeah, my words stand clear."
With that the soldier marched from the room, leaving the man groaning on the couch.
"Kids," he pouted, "They're a good idea at first and then they grow up and kick you in the ass."
Authors Notes: So I've got not excuse other than test's and laziness for why the FINAL update took so long.
So this story was a big mish mash of EMOTIONS. It was my first long and experimental story to see if I could tie things together and it turns out I need a little more practice in longer stories! But that's okay! Practice makes perfect!
As for gods with drugs, please play along.
I'd like to thank EVERY SINGLE ONE of you who followed, favorited, and reviewed this piece. It was so fantastic to have so much support and praise for it. I hope you all enjoyed reading it! It was fun to right.
Also I would like to ask you ALL A QUESTION. DO YA'LL LIKE STAR TREK? I'm a huge trekkie, have been since I was little since my parents were obsessed, and I have fallen in to the ship that is Spock/Kirk. I was wondering if any of you'd be interested if I'd start a series of one-shots with them and the crew? I'd just like some feed back!
THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!