Steve almost didn't pick up his phone.
The caller ID told him it was Tony, and there was really no good reason he could be calling again. Steve knew far too well that as bad as things already were, between Tony and Loki, there were infinite ways it could get worse. He nearly clicked the end call button, but…his boyfriend and/or potential-fiancé was trapped alone with two Norse gods in the middle of a desert. He should probably pick up.
"Tell me you're still alive and have all your body parts."
"What? Yes. Is this how we're answering the phone now? I mean, that's practical and all, but it's not very romantic—"
"Stop stalling and tell me why you called."
"Rude." Tony made a huffy, indignant sort of noise over the line. He fell silent for a minute, postponing the inevitable, and Steve waited him out. Finally, Tony sighed. "You'd love me no matter what, right?"
"Tony, you married a supervillain last night. And I haven't left you. I really don't think you're giving me enough credit for that."
"What if I was really strange, though?"
"You are really strange."
"Not charming-strange, weird-strange?"
"There is nothing 'charming-strange' about you getting drunk and marrying a supervillain."
"Steve, I'm serious—"
"And I'm serious. There's nothing you can tell me right now that's going to stop me from picking you up, marching you straight down to city hall for a divorce from Loki, and putting that ring exactly where it belongs: on my finger."
"I love you."
"I turn into baby animals when I sneeze."
Steve blinked once, then twice. He looked at his phone in bewilderment. He must've heard that wrong. He glanced over to Natasha, who was flying the quinjet but had clearly been listening by the sly curve of a smirk now on her lips. Tony had, in fact, actually just said that.
"I'm sorry, what—"
"It's Loki's fault!" Tony protested. "He hexed me last night! Anytime I do something involuntarily, a sneeze or hiccup or whatever, I turn into a fucking baby animal until I sneeze or whatever again! I was a stupid baby bunny for ten goddamn minutes, and anytime I tried to walk my feet were too big and I tripped—stop laughing, god damn it, it's not funny!"
Steve couldn't stop. It was too much, and he sank into one of the seats and laughed so hard he almost cried. Natasha had a full-fledged grin now, which was basically the Natasha equivalent, so he didn't feel too bad.
"I can't wait to see you."
"I think I'm offended."
"It's okay Tony, we can get you a little collar and everything—"
"Now you want to get kinky?"
"I was thinking more so you don't get lost."
"We could make it kinky though."
"Tony, what if you sneeze while we're…indisposed?" Tony had certainly helped him lose most inhibitions in the bedroom, but it still felt indiscreet to talk too explicitly about their sex life with Natasha sitting right there.
She snorted, clearly getting the picture anyway.
"Oh." Tony paused, probably to wince. "Ow. So, sex is off the table until I'm fixed?"
"I wouldn't choose the word fixed, exactly—"
"Bestiality doesn't exactly do it for me, Tony."
"Excuse me darling, I have an Asgardian ass to kick."
"See you soon. Love you."
"After all this? Man, I'm never getting rid of you, am I?" Tony was teasing, but Steve could hear his genuinely pleased grin over the line.
"Not a chance," he responded honestly, with a pleased smile of his own.
"I love you."
Tony was a hell of a sight.
They all were, really. Tony had nothing but underwear with Steve's shield splashed across the front, Loki had discarded the bra and helmet but not the boxers, and they must've woken Thor at some point, though they'd been unable to find him pants. They were all leaning against the cop car to get a little bit of shade, sunburned to hell and sweating up a storm in the Nevada heat.
Any anger Steve had left in him about the ring mishap melted away when he saw Tony. His nose was crooked and bloody, he held his injured wrist defensively close to his chest, and he was still scratched up from the raccoon attack. Steve took one step off the quinjet and made a beeline for him.
Tony, as promised, sank immediately to his knees.
"Have I mentioned that I don't deserve you?"
"A time or two." Steve ran a hand through Tony's hair fondly. "Have I mentioned you're wrong?"
"I don't know what I did to earn your love, but I swear, if it keeps you by my side, I'll do it for the rest of my life." Tony offered him a tired smile and a ring. "Marry me, baby?"
Steve tugged Tony to his feet, careful not to jostle his injured wrist. He took Tony's face in his hands, rubbing a thumb over a scratch on his cheek before pressing a kiss to it. He ran his hands down Tony's neck to his shoulders, pulling him into a tight embrace.
"You drive me crazy sometimes, you know that?" He pressed another kiss just under Tony's ear, appreciating the slight shiver Tony gave in response. "But I love you for you, and I'm marrying you for you. There's nothing to earn, Tony."
Tony nodded, giving in easily. He slumped forward to bury his face in Steve's neck with a loud, tired exhale.
"I'm counting that as a yes until proven otherwise." Tony smiled wearily. "Can we go home now?"
"You lost Clint." Natasha raised an eyebrow at Tony as she disembarked. "You're not going anywhere."
"Sorry sweetheart." Steve pulled back to press a kiss to Tony's forehead. "Not quite yet."
"I am most pleased to see this union unfold at long last!" Thor clapped Tony on the shoulder. Tony winced, knees buckling a bit under the pressure.
"Careful, Thor." Steve shot him a reproachful look.
"I apologize, Steven, I wish only to extend my congratulations!" Thor beamed at them happily.
"I know, buddy. Thank you." Steve sighed, slipping an arm around Tony's waist and redirecting him towards the plane. "Let's load up, Avengers. There're clothes for you in the quinjet, then we've got a teammate to track down."
"Am I to be included in this…adventure, of yours?" Loki pursed his lips, eyeing the quinjet distastefully.
"Until the divorce papers are filed and my fiancé no longer turns into animals when he sneezes, you better believe you are." Steve used his free hand to grab Loki's arm and haul him along. "Speaking of which…"
"I don't perform on cue." Tony huffed. "I can't just decide to sneeze an—oh fuc—tchoo!"
The change was immediate. Tony disappeared out from under Steve's arm, and a little grey elephant with over-sized ears and a trunk long enough to trip over dropped to the ground. It made a whining sort of noise, but the sound got caught in its trunk because it became sort of a half-trumpet at the end. It wiggled its nose in displeasure at the sound.
Steve almost collapsed to the ground in laughter.
The elephant—well, Tony, he supposed—smacked his leg with his trunk in irritation.
"I'm sorry, Tony." Steve bent down, still unable to dial back his wide grin, and patted Tony on the head. Tony just swatted his hand away. "If it makes you feel any better, you're very cute."
Tony balked, making a half-snort, half-trumpeting sound of pure indignation before getting up and stomping off elsewhere. He only got a little ways before his injured wrist, now a foot, gave him trouble and he started to wobble. Steve shot forward to catch him, but Tony just swatted his hands away crossly. If elephants were capable of glares, Steve was sure the look Tony just shot him was positively dirty.
"You'll be back to normal in no time, I'm sure," Steve soothed as he gestured for Tony to come back to him, "But you're injured, baby, you shouldn't walk on it. Let me carry you, please?"
Tony looked indecisive, at least, as indecisive as an elephant could look. Then Steve made the mistake of making a clicking sound with his tongue, like he'd use to call any wary animal closer—Tony, of course, knew that, and made another outraged noise before stomping off to the quinjet on his own, injury be damned. Steve made note not to make that sound again.
"Come on, get in." Steve sighed, standing up to wave at Thor and Loki to follow him.
"Move," Natasha ordered to Tony, who was crowding the entrance. When Tony was too slow, she turned to Steve, telling him with a small quirk of her lips, "This is why we don't bring pets on missions, Steve."
Tony gave loud, squeaky sort of trumpet noise that indicated he'd be having words with her later. Natasha just pushed him out of her way. Tony started tripping over his feet again, and Steve quickly scooped him up before he could fall, shooting Natasha a stern look. Tony began to make noises of protest, wiggling in his arms, but Steve shushed him.
"You can barely walk as it is, you're just going to fall over again once we get in the air," Steve reasoned, "Just let me take care of you for once, alright?"
Tony shot him a flat look, but stayed silent.
It was almost ten minutes before they heard a loud, trumpeting sneeze, and the adorable elephant in Steve's arms once again became his equally adorable but once again human fiancé.
"I hate you all." Tony shoved Steve away, and Steve let him with an amused smile. He grabbed the clothes they'd brought for him, and dressed in a rush. "God, I haven't spent this much time naked since my twenties."
Steve opened his mouth to remind Tony about last weekend, but decided that with current company it might not be the best idea.
"I do not claim to understand your Midgardian preoccupation with clothing." Thor shook his head. "Were it not for the stifling heat, I would have found our time waiting together rather pleasant."
"That's because you're not the one who had to sit there and compare his very mortal junk to two gods'." Tony made a face.
"Feeling inferior, Stark?" Loki raised an eyebrow with a dry smirk.
"Fuck you. You're the god of screwing horses, of course you're hung like one."
"I am the god of mischief, you insolent ant, I'll teach you to fear my wrath—" Loki rose up, as if to make a move, but Steve planted a hand on his chest and shoved him very firmly back down.
"You," he ordered to Loki, "Threaten my fiancé again and you'll be spending the rest of this ride unconscious. And you," he ordered to Tony next, "Stop taunting supervillains, it never works out for you."
"He made fun of my dick!" Tony protested.
"And you said he had sex with horses, I think you can call this one even." Steve put an arm around Tony's waist, pulling him close enough to add in his ear, "I'd like to think that my satisfaction with it is all that matters anyway, hm?"
Tony continued to scowl, but there was a slight uptick to the corner of his lips that Steve recognized as him trying very hard not to grin.
It was disturbingly easy to get a divorce in Las Vegas, but Steve's moral distress about that was far overshadowed by the sudden rush of euphoria that came with realizing that there was nothing but a wedding standing between him and marital bliss with Tony. He felt a bit silly, and more than a little giddy, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He was getting married to the man he'd been in love with for years, the man he'd always thought wasn't the marrying type, the man he would've been happy to spend forever with, ring or no ring.
The ring was, however, a nice plus.
Steve was more possessive than he liked to admit. Tony was a public figure, a businessman and a superhero and a celebrity all rolled into one, and he'd always been a charmer. Steve knew and accepted that; it was who Tony was, and he wouldn't change a thing about him. What he didn't like were the people who reveled in Tony's attention and charm just a bit too much, the people who hung on Tony's arm as if by doing so they might make him forget Steve existed.
He had to admit, in the beginning, there had been a part of him worried Tony might do just that. That he might find someone more interesting, more cosmopolitan, maybe someone not seventy years behind the times. The insecurity had faded, but his somewhat irrational need to remind those people that Tony was a taken man had not.
The idea that Tony was going to be wearing something at all times that told the entire world he was taken, that he was Steve's…well, it was more than a little thrilling.
Steve expressed this sentiment by embracing Tony with enough exuberance to lift him right off the ground the moment he finished signing the paper.
"Whoa!" Tony dropped his pen in surprise. "What're y—"
Steve silenced him with a kiss, deep and fierce and more than a little possessive. Tony settled his arms around Steve's neck to return the kiss, angling his head to catch Steve's lip in his teeth. Only when he was beard-burned, dazed, and short of breath did Steve loosen his arms a fraction, and even then it was just enough to let Tony's feet touch the ground again while he caught his breath.
"If that's not the most amicable divorce ever, I don't know what is." The government official taking their paperwork shook her head in amusement.
"We're not getting divorced, we're getting married." Tony answered, though he and his blinding smile never turned away from Steve.
"That's form 4A. You filed 8B."
"8B was for the supervillain I drunk-married, 4A is for the superhero I'm spending the rest of my life with." Tony corrected sincerely, using the arms looped around Steve's neck to tug him back down for another kiss.
"Of course it was." The official just sighed.
Natasha kicked Tony in the shin.
"Um, ow." Tony broke the kiss to frown at Natasha. "Who pissed in your coffee?"
"The asshole who lost my partner in Vegas."
"Right. I keep forgetting about that. Why do I keep forgetting about that?"
"I wonder." Steve tipped his head down to give Tony one last kiss before releasing him. "It couldn't possibly be that you're a bit distracted, could it?"
"Have I mentioned you're my favorite distraction?"
"Yes, you're in love, it's wonderful." Natasha shot them a deadpan look. "Now if we could focus on the supervillain we left in the rental car and the missing superhero we can only hope is still somewhere in the state?"
"Oh, he can't have gotten that far." Tony waved her concern off. "He's still in the city, I'm sure."
"You say you're looking for a superhero?" A teenage boy passing by overheard them. "Is it the bird one?"
They exchanged a glance.
"Yeah, that one. He does the whole…" The boy mimicked using a bow and arrow. "Archery thing? I saw just saw him—"
"He got arrested, like, in the middle of the strip. I guess they found him naked and drunk on top of Caesar's Palace when he threw an air conditioner at someone on the street. It was a huge deal. You can watch it on youtube."
"Why is it on the youtube?" Steve was almost afraid to ask.
"He was a drunk, naked superhero shouting about how he was going to feed Tony Stark's balls to him while he got arrested. How could it not be on youtube?"
"Great." Tony winced at the balls comment.
"That's our guy." Steve sighed. "Can you direct us to the police station?"
"What do you mean, escaped?" Steve exclaimed. "He was in custody for ten minutes!"
"Look, Mr. Rogers, we're cops. We're not superspies or superhumans or superwhatever else, alright? The guy picked his own handcuffs, jumped out of a moving car, and managed to disappear into the crowd in seconds despite being buckass nude. That's not exactly normal behavior, okay, we're workin' on it—"
"It's alright, we'll find him ourselves." Steve gave a sigh as he dug out his wallet. "How much to get the charges dropped, for him and for Tony Stark?"
"Wasn't he here last night?"
"Well, yeah." The cop shrugged. "But he's free to go."
"Free to…that's it?" Steve blinked in surprise. "Didn't he burn down a casino?"
"What?" The cop laughed. "Is that what he told you? He just sat in the middle of the floor and tried to set a rubber band on fire with the 'power of his genius' by staring at it really hard. He became a disturbance when he wouldn't move so we took him and his friend and threw 'em in the drunk tank. They got out halfway through the night when he sneezed and turned into a lamb. He wiggled through the bars, and the other one remembered he could teleport and followed him out. We didn't have any charges for them, so it wasn't worth the effort to throw em back in the tank. He left his clothes and wallet behind though, you want those?"
"Yes." Steve rubbed his forehead. Well, at least the good news was Tony didn't burn anyone to death last night.
After retrieving Tony's things and paying off Clint's fines, Steve returned to the rental car. Loki and Thor were in the backseat while Natasha kept the car running, and Tony was squished between the Asgardians with his head tucked between his legs as a means of hiding, still convinced he was on the run from the law.
"No one's looking for you, Tony, you can sit up." Steve rolled his eyes as he got in the car. "You didn't set anything on fire."
"No. And stop looking disappointed, that's a good thing. They just threw you in the drunk tank until you turned into a lamb and squeezed through the bars."
"Yes. You're not under arrest. If anything, they think you're funny. They didn't find Clint so funny though." Steve sighed, tucking his wallet back into his pocket. "My wallet sure doesn't either."
Natasha snorted. Steve raised an eyebrow at her.
"What? It was expensive."
This time it was Tony who gave a snort of laughter.
"I don't understand what's so funny." Steve was beginning to get a bit peeved. "His bail and fine combined was more than two thousand dollars—"
Tony burst out into full on laughter. He leaned forward, throwing his uninjured arm around Steve's neck from behind and kissing him enthusiastically on the cheek.
"Never change, baby. God, I love you."
"I really don't—"
"Captain." Natasha glanced at him, then at Tony, then back at him. "You're marrying into 7.2 billion dollars. I think your pocketbook will be just fine."
"Oh." Steve paused. "I didn't…oh."
"Oh." Tony smiled fondly. "The man realizes he's about to become a billionaire, and his answer is 'oh'."
"I prefer to think of it as becoming your husband." Steve felt his ears go a bit pink. "The money is arbitrary."
"I know, baby." Tony kissed the tip of his ear. "I know."
"Where's Clint?" Natasha interjected. "I thought you said you paid his bail and fine."
"He's not actually in custody." Steve sighed. "He escaped after five minutes in the squad car, we'll have to find him ourselves. Last the police saw of him, he was disappearing into a crowd somewhere around the corner of the strip by Spring Mountain Road."
"Of course h—no, no, nonon—tchoo!"
The arm around Steve disappeared, and he looked into the backseat to find a fluffy yellow ball of baby duck. It took every ounce of strength Steve had not to coo in adoration. Tony was adorable. He was puffed up with indignation at the moment, and he plopped down on the seat only to tumble backwards with the motion of the car. Steve shot out a hand, gently catching Tony before he jostled his wrist—now a wing—too much.
As a duckling, Tony was small enough to fit in the palm of his hand, and Steve scooped him up, ignoring Tony's squeaky quacks of outrage. Steve almost absent-mindedly began to stroke the soft puff of fuzz on Tony's back, and Tony's quacks ceased immediately. He craned his little head up, adjusting to give Steve access with a happy, encouraging noise.
"I will never let you live this down, Stark." Natasha shook her head with a laugh as she turned back onto the strip.
Tony started to wiggle out of Steve's palm in protest, but Steve just cupped his hand and held Tony closer to his chest.
"Don't listen to her, she's just jealous. You're adorable. In a manly way," he added hastily when Tony seemed about to protest, "You're a very manly duckling. A very adorably manly duckling."
Tony seemed dubious, but settled back into Steve's hand anyway. He nodded his head once, as if consenting to further petting. Steve did, careful not to use too much pressure or rub Tony's feathers the wrong way. Tony preened, likely without knowing he was doing it, making happy little clicking sounds every once in a while.
"If I could have your attention for a moment, Steve?" Natasha raised an amused eyebrow at him, and Steve's head shot up. When had they parked? "Our teammate is hanging off a building."
Natasha nodded at something outside his window.
"Barton's quite flexible," Loki mused, peering out the window as well.
"Oh god." Steve carefully placed Tony on his seat as he got out of the car. "Stay here a minute, sweetheart, I'll be right back. Thor, with me."
Tony gave a quack, of protest or assent Steve couldn't be sure, but he left him there anyway because their drunk, though thankfully now clothed, teammate hanging upside down from a balcony at the Palazzo sort of warranted immediate attention.
"Thor, can you—?"
"Of course, Captain." Thor swung his hammer and up he went, removing Clint from the balcony before he could fall and crack his skull open.
"God Almighty, Clint, what were you thinking?" Steve admonished when they'd landed.
"I was thinkin', La'veg's c'n kiss m'ass!" Clint slurred, slumping forward as Thor released him. Natasha looped an arm under his shoulders, hoisting him up.
"Get in, дурак." Natasha rolled her eyes, all but physically throwing Clint into the back of the car.
"'s Easter already?" Clint blinked in wide eyed confusion at Tony, who was still waddling around in the front seat. Clint shot forward to grab him, but Steve put a hand on Clint's chest and shoved him back.
"Don't touch," Steve ordered sternly, before turning to scoop Tony up tenderly. "You'll hurt him."
"When did Cap'n America get a fuckin' duck?" Clint gaped. "Can I get one?"
"No." Steve stroked the particularly soft fluff atop Tony's head. "This is Tony."
Clint was silent while Natasha and Thor got back in the car. It wasn't until they were almost halfway down the strip that he spoke up again, looking extremely perplexed.
"Dude. Dude, Steve, Tony's human. Tha's a duck."
"Loki hexed him." Natasha sighed.
"This Loki?" Clint blinked at Loki, who was sitting next him with an amused sort of expression. "Y'mean 'm not h'lucinating?"
"No, Clint, you're not hallucinating." Steve chuckled.
"'vengers 'ssemble!" Clint slurred, unbuckling his seatbelt to throw himself on top of Loki.
"Barton, you put your seatbelt back on or I'll pull over and tie it around your neck," Natasha hissed in warning.
"Yes Tasha." Clint retreated immediately, clicking his seatbelt back into place and folding his hands in his lap innocently.
"Nice work," Steve complimented.
Tony nipped at his thumb lightly, rubbing his head up against Steve's fingers in askance.
"See?" he murmured to Tony, beginning to pet him again as requested, "Being adorable isn't so bad, is it?"
Tony made a disgruntled sort of noise, but didn't bat away Steve's hand.
"If it makes you feel better, you have the softest feathers I've ever felt."
Tony preened a bit at that, adjusting his shoulders and holding his head up to give Steve better access to the soft down feathers by his neck. Steve pressed a chaste kiss to the top of Tony's head before continuing to stroke Tony gently.
"All this 'dorable's gonna make me puke," Clint muttered from the backseat.
"I share the sentiment." Loki eyed Steve distastefully. Steve paid him no mind, entirely preoccupied with Tony and the happy little sounds he was making.
"Brother, if Anthony as a duckling bothers you so, you could simply right him," Thor suggested.
Tony started quacking loudly and exuberantly in a way that made Steve relatively sure he'd forgotten he couldn't actually talk.
"You fools have no appreciation for magic." Loki chastised. "Do you have any idea how much energy undoing a hex of that nature would take?"
"You were drunk." Natasha snorted. "It can't be that complicated."
"I don't see why I should expend my magic when the Captain can simply break it himself." Loki scowled.
"I can what?" Steve whipped around in his seat.
"I thought even Midgardians were aware of how to break a curse." Loki rolled his eyes. "How pathetic."
"Steve'n'Tony, sittin' in a Disney movie, K-S-I-S-N-I-G," Clint sang, "Firs' come love, then come marriage, then come'a ducky in'a ducky carriage!"
"…" Steve stared at Clint blankly for a moment, before turning to Natasha. "He could still hit a target dead on from a hundred yards right now, couldn't he?"
"While moving." Natasha nodded.
"All I have to do is kiss Tony like this, and he'll return to normal?" Steve clarified with Loki.
"Yes. But he'll stay a duckling forever if it's not true lo—"
"Oh, well then." Steve bent to kiss Tony's beak without further preamble.
There was a flash of green as Tony changed this time, likely the curse breaking, then Steve had a lapful of naked fiancé. Natasha, bless her, didn't so much as swerve as she stripped off her jacket and tossed it over Tony's lap.
"Heyyy, it's Tony!" Clint grinned. "Hi Tony!"
"Hey," Tony answered, but it was more for Steve than Clint if his tone of voice was anything to go by. He wrapped his arms around Steve's neck, pulling him closer. "So what's a fella like you doing in a place like this?"
"Oh, you know, the usual." Steve chuckled, arms slipping around Tony's waist to keep him steady. "Picking up my shapeshifting fiancé, rescuing drunk superheroes from tall buildings, breaking curses with my magic lips…same old, same old."
"True love's kiss, huh." Tony smiled fondly. "You didn't even hesitate."
"I have no hesitations about you, Tony." Steve tipped his head to kiss Tony softly, tenderly, trying to put everything he couldn't find the words for into the kiss.
"Great." Clint groaned. "'s like the honeymoon phase all over 'gain."
"I don't know about you…" Tony broke the kiss and Steve let him, though a bit reluctantly. He tightened his hold around Tony's waist to tug him closer. "But I'd like to spend the real honeymoon about as far away from that obnoxious little fucker as possible."
"What honeymoon?" Clint blinked.
Tony waved Steve's left hand in Clint's face.
"Oh god." Clint paled when he caught sight of the ring. "How could you do this t'me?"
"Enlighten me about how my engagement has anything to do with you?" Tony raised an eyebrow at Clint.
"I could barely deal with your dating handsiness without brain bleach, how'm I s'posed t'handle you two high on marital bliss?" Clint lamented.
"With strategic avoidance and counseling as necessary like everyone else." Natasha joked dryly.
"I find JARVIS to be of much use in this endeavor." Thor added helpfully. "He has stopped me from intruding many a time."
"I'd apologize for making out in public areas, but oh, wait, that's right, it's my Tower." Tony smirked. Then, something seemed to occur to him, and he turned to Steve in surprised wonder. "Our Tower."
"Our Tower." Steve agreed, admittedly a little giddy about it.
"Do you want a 'Rogers' tacked onto the end of the sign? I could do that, I could totally do that—"
"I've never been a fan of long names." Steve admitted. "The hyphens, and whatnot?"
"Oh really?" Tony watched him with careful curiosity.
"Really. We ought to keep it simple." Steve suggested with a grin. "A little starker, know what I mean?"
Ton surged forward, tightening his arms around Steve's neck to pull him in and answer with enthusiasm. He kissed him breathless, and when they parted he pressed his forehead against Steve's.
"Steven Stark." Maybe it was the name, maybe it was the way Tony said it, either way Steve could feel an excited shiver race down his spine. "You like it?"
"I love it." Steve smiled, shifting his hold on Tony for a snugger embrace. "But more importantly, I love you."
Somewhere in the back of the car, Clint flailed spastically in protest of further kissing. He was ignored.