A/N: Thank inukagome15 for this since they inspired one more fic from me! My AU Steve Muse was floating on the edge of my mind palace for about a week before I cracked and wrote this thing. I just try to catch what the Muses are laying down, okay? Reviews are a writer's crack! Feed the Muses... they hunger.
DISCLAIMER: I own NOTHING of the Avengers save a Captain America shirt. It's mine and I love it to bits. Everything else belongs to Marvel. I also no owny the songs mentioned in the fic. Steve has a wide variety of songs because I listen to too many genres.
WARNING: This is a slash fic. If you have a problem with that, click the back button or exit out of the window. When you read past this line, I have not coerced, forced nor compelled you in any manner to continue this fic. Contains Stark Spangled Banner, Clintasha + Coulson and Thor/Jane. However, that being said, if you enjoy a good story despite the pairings/trios mentioned please continue.
It's a bit of a secret that Captain America has wings; not those cute, fluffy Cupid ones either. No, these are massive eighteen and a half feet of pure intimidation. The secret? No one else besides Abraham Erskine and Steve himself has ever seen them in their full glory. How does he hide them? Well, that's the easy part. It's communal showers, cameras in his private rooms and awkwardly large vents for both spies to crawl in (since they have to odd habit of doing just that) that make it harder to stretch the muscles out. There are times when he flees the relative safety of his rooms in Stark Mansion for miles and miles of pines that he can soar over for hours. At least he doesn't molt all that often...
It's fairly easy to catch up on the history he missed. The movies take a bit longer but he finally gets why Tony teases Clint about being Legolas. Natasha took it upon herself to take him for museum viewing and Bruce caught him up on the science he could understand (which he found he remembered better than most things). Thor spars with him and tells amazing tales of the Nine Realms. Steve's the only person who'll sit through the entire tale as Thor gestulates with his hands and switches voices. He takes up drawing again and finds college classes to take to better his technique. Mostly the teachers just watch him draw, commenting only occasionally on the angle of the light and his use of a pencil to create what they deem is a masterpiece. He draws the Avengers mostly, but he lives with them and they've become his fall-back subjects when he can't think of anything else. One personal, very private picture resides in the recesses of his rubber-band enclosed sketchbook. It's himself with his wings out and wrapped around Tony & Bruce. It's taped to the very back of his sketchbook and he only looks at it when he's feeling particularly lonely. No one touches the book; it's an unspoken rule amongst the Avengers after Steve nearly had a heart-attack searching for it (it held the only sketches of Bucky, Peggy and Howard together as they had not been in real life). The teachers never ask either after he fiddled with Bucky's tags (a spare pair he'd lent Steve as a joke before he'd gotten the serum) that were attached to his own while staring at his most recent drawing of Bucky. They'd never found his body and it hurt more than he cared to admit.
Slowly, oh so slowly, he was getting used to places he remembered clear as day being torn down; making way for a shopping mall or a building that more than scraped the sky, a cold reflection of modernism. Of course, Tony's tech far outstripped whatever was popular at the moment and sometimes he got jealous looks for his StarkPhone from one of the other students. Did he forget to mention the attempted bullying?
"Hey, Rogers, what'd you do to get that phone?" Steve ignored the other male, too busy researching for his test in history. "Rogers." The book slapped down in front of him made him look up with a raised eyebrow as he reached for the second book in his pile.
"You wanted something?" he asked politely, pulling one of his headphones away and turning down the volume to the Broadway performance of Les Miserables' I Dreamed a Dream.
"Your StarkPhone. What'd you do to get it?" The teen said with exaggerated motions.
His eyes narrowed as he leaned across the table to hiss his answer with held-in venom. "I defended my country and my friends died. Satisfied?" The pen in his hand snapped with force it took to keep calm. Wide brown eyes flicked to Tony's supposedly indestructible pen before flicking to his hardened expression. "Get out of my sight." He mopped up the ink and sighed, wiping his hands with wet wipes, starting over with a fresh piece of paper for notes. "Tony?"
"Capsicle! What's up?" Steve rolled his eyes at Tony's enthusiastic greeting but responded.
"I broke the pen."
"... My pen that I designed and made just for you?"
"Yes. Some punk asked me with implied innuendo how I got my StarkPhone."
"Alright. What was his name?"
"Tony, no." Steve admonished, knowing Tony's already hacking the café cameras.
"I'm looking at this-Wow. You do have some bite after all. Me likey."
"Stop butchering the English language Tony." he laughed softly, shaking his head at Tony's antics. "Just come pick me up... And no flashy cars or suits. I have to blend into the crowd here."
"You're talking to me on a StarkPhone, you're the epitome of human perfection and you want to blend in?! Steve, Steve, Steve... That's so not possible."
"Tony." He out-right laughs, drawing the stares of several women and even a few men.
"Your laugh is even ridiculously attractive. All I've got is this genius, billionaire, philanthropist playboy thing to work with..." Steve grins and hangs up, feeling much better already. He notices the interested stares and pulls his book up as cover as he blushes.
"Hi there." A pretty blonde sits in the chair that his classmate just vacated, just in line of his peripheral vision. "You have a beautiful laugh."
"My friends have mentioned it." he muttered, not looking up as he turned the page, getting involved in the book once more.
"Call me?" she slips him a piece of torn paper from her receipt with a number. He stares at it from under his book in bafflement. Steve frowns as he pokes it back in her direction in confusion. His StarkPhone buzzes with a text from Clint.
Dude, that chick just offered u her number!
Placing his bookmarker on the page and closing the book gently, he picks up his phone, texting back. He still hasn't picked up what Tony calls text speech.
I don't even know her, Clint. Why would I call her? She hasn't given me her name.
Steve doesn't get a chance to text back as Tony shows up in sweatpants, sneakers and a MIT hoodie with sunglasses on his face.
"Finally. You're late."
"Uh no, honey bear, I'm fashionably late. Ask Pep." Tony's sarcasm has him shaking his head in amusement as he packs up his shoulder-bag.
"I can see that. Taxi or...?"
"My car, Cap, nothing else."
"Yes, I went low-key just for you." Tony informed him dryly as they sat in the car. "Oh I crack myself up... Get it? Low-key?" Steve rolled his eyes and snorted.
"Yes, very punny, Tony."
"No appreciation for my genius! Bruce!" JARVIS was installed in all of the cars.
"Yes, Tony?" the indulgent tone Bruce took with Tony made Steve roll his eyes. In secret, he had a huge crush on both of them but knew they were together via JARVIS. He might love them but he'd never deliberately be a home-wrecker.
It's a horrific battle that reveals his secret. An EMP disables Tony's suit while Hulk's more than halfway across the city beating Doombots left and right. Thor's trapped under some debris; Clint nor Natasha can catch Tony without hurting themselves and at the speed he's falling, he'd kill himself.
"Friend Steven, I cannot reach him in time without injuring him further."
"Cap! He's falling too fast!" Clint yells into the comm, his eyes flicking between Tony falling and shooting explosive arrows into Doombots.
"Well, are you going to do anything? Can you do anything?" Steve shuts off his comm., starting to pull off the top of his uniform as quickly as he can. He can still hear his team and they sound confused as he rolls his bare shoulders & concentrates.
"What the ever-loving fuck is Cap doing?!"
"Watch idiot. He did say he had this." Natasha says quietly in the way he knows will get him questioned later. The protective pouch that acts like skin twitches before revealing all eighteen and a half feet of his wings.
"Why has Friend Steven never mentioned this ability?"
"It's not something accepted here." her voice is frighteningly flat as she informs the Asgardian of that fact. He ignores it for the time being and launches himself from a standstill into the air with a single wing beat. It's a glorious feeling to let them loose but now isn't the time to relish in that fact. He flies as fast as he can and catches Tony before his team-mate can hit the ground full force. Steve slowly places Tony down, checking for signs of life before the suit hums loudly as it goes back on line.
"Okay, do not want that to happen again, JARVIS. We're creating an EMP-proof suit before our next battle with this asshole." Tony's voice crackles onto the comm. as the battle continues. Steve sighs with relief at hearing the voice that almost got silenced for good. "Uhh, guys? Who caught me mid-air if Hulk's still half-way across the city and I just saw Thor get his ass out of what looks like half a building?"
"I did." he turns his comm. back on and rips two slits into the back of his uniform as he puts it back on. No use hiding them now, he thinks and he's back to killing Doombots with more anger than usual.
"... Cap, am I seeing things?"
"No. Doombots to your left." he says, locking into the battle with single-minded ferocity as he rips through the remaining 'bots with precision. A deep silence settles over the area after they're done, all eyes on the wings he's lived with all his life.
"So, anyone want-" He takes off his comm., letting it fall to the ground as he takes three running steps and launches into the suddenly empty sky.
It's just him, the open sky and pine trees as he lands in his secret cottage. He changes out of his uniform and inspects the slits he tore into the back. They're evenly spaced & perfectly fine so he leaves them there as he folds his wings along his back and turns on the news with a sigh.
"Reports are coming in that Captain America has wings. We have some exclusive footage from an amateur camera person." The shaky footage shows him hastily stripping down to his waist, though he's not facing the camera; (it's slightly blurry) his wings snapping out to their fullest as he takes off from a dead standstill to catch Tony. He's mulling over his actions when it switches back to the anchor. "From what the witnesses say, Iron Man was completely disabled while this was happening and no one else on the team could possibly catch him from that height without severe injury to Mr. Stark. So, is Captain America truly at fault for keeping this particular secret?" He groaned as he shut off the T.V. and made his way to the kitchen to make himself some food. Hearing the Star-Spangled Banner from his phone reminded him he still had the damn thing and they could track him; he answered it anyway.
"Get to HQ, Captain." it was Fury and he sounded very, very upset.
Steve sighed, giving his response which he'd scripted in case anyone had ever found out about his wings. "No sir. I'm resigning as of right now. You can pick up the uniform at the Canadian border. I'm going off the grid, so to speak. Goodbye." He crushed the phone silently thanking Bruce for the fake papers that had him listed as someone else. Flying his uniform and the dead phone to the border took the work of moments. Steve was truly alone for the first time in a long time.
He picked up a job in landscaping since he was good with plants and his hands. No one had bothered to search for him and he'd seen nothing on the news. One late evening he'd been channel-surfing when he came upon an interesting interview. It had Tony, Clint and the rest of the Avengers sans himself in a studio.
"Any news on Captain America's whereabouts?"
"He's resigned." Tony answered with those same sunglasses over his eyes. "Next."
"Resigned? A national icon can't resign. Any information on the videos of him with wings?"
"He does have them." that was Clint, his face drawn and pale, like he'd been worrying. "They're about eighteen and a half feet long from tip to tip."
"Mutants have rallied around the former Captain's reveal. What do you say to that?"
"The Captain saved Mr. Stark's life and didn't even think about the fallout. He did what was right." it was Natasha now and she was vicious in her reply. "As for people rallying around the Captain, he is a good man. They will always do so." The host was silent for a moment before turning to Bruce.
"With the Captain resigned, who will take his place amongst your team?"
"We're fine as we are. If the Captain choses to come back on his own terms, we'll gladly take him back." Bruce remarks dryly while tugging on the red, white and blue leather braided cuff he'd made all of them last Christmas. As he looked closer, they all were wearing them in what seemed to be a show of solidarity.
"What's the significance of those cuffs?"
"Our shield-brother made them as gifts. We feel it is right to wear them in his absence." Thor said quietly with what seemed to be genuine authority.
"Well, the fans have a few questions of their own. You, in the front."
"Do you think he'll come back?"
"We'll have to see." Bruce murmured serenely.
"... And the very young gentleman with his hand raised."
"I hope he sees this." the little boy looked at his parent (who nodded solemnly in agreement) and tugged off his shirt to reveal tiny snow-white wings of his own. Steve's twitched in sympathy as the little boy's did when he realized that this interview was live. Oh, he hoped his old uniform was still in Phil's hands... He dialed the number he knew by heart and prayed for the recovered agent to pick up.
"I need a favor from you."
"Anything. Does this have to do with the interview they're currently-"
"Yes, yes it is. Do you still have my old uniform that Howard made copies of?" he cut in, his voice urgent.
"... I have two."
"You have it?"
"The copy of the original and the one you handed in along with your crushed StarkPhone, Captain."
"I'll be there in an hour. Think you can bring it in?" He would be landing at Stark Tower.
"Can do, Captain."
"Steve, Phil, please call me Steve. I think we're a little past the whole title thing." He shut his phone gently and pocketed it, grabbing his shield on the way out.
He pulled on his old uniform, newly patched up and slits sewn into the back as though they'd been there all along.
"Thank you so much. I don't think I could do this without your help." he hummed as he finished rotating his shoulders.
"My pleasure Captain. You don't need a mic do you?" Steve grinned and hefted his shield onto his arm.
"That kid deserves to see me."
"Your team-mates had nothing to do with it?" came the amused question.
"They're wearing the cuffs. I think that's enough for me not to hide anymore."
"Which is why you're still not showing your face."
"I need to keep my private life separate from the public." Steve shot back lazily as he waved away the fluttering hands of the make-up artist. "I'm good."
"Oh, it looks like we have a guest appearance courtesy of the studio. Please give a warm welcome for this guest!" Steve squared his shoulders and walked out into the bright studio to thunderous applause that slowly died into shock. His eyes search out the kid who still has his wings out but put through slits in the shirt. He smiles as he makes his way over, allowing his wings to unfurl and relax at his sides. "It appears the good Captain is back, folks!" Steve kneels in front of the kid and offers his hand for a shake. The little boy shook it sharply but firmly for an eight year old.
"You're pretty brave, kiddo. Thought I'd come show some too." he says with a smile.
"You were scared?"
"Uh-huh. But you showed me what it was like to do the right thing. Do I get to know the name of my hero?" he grinned as the child blushed and his wings fluttered lightly.
"I'm Steve." he whispered. "You can't tell anybody that though. I have a secret identity."
"Oh. Okay." He ruffled Warren's hair and brushed his primaries against the tiny wings still developing. Turning around, he was met with Tony's familiar shit-eating grin, Bruce's shy smile and Thor's flash of teeth. The assassin pair favored him with wry, knowing smiles.
"So, Captain, back from retirement?"
"I had some thinking to do." he shot back, "Then I figured I thought about it too much and decided to come back."
"The thing we all want to know then. Are you in a relationship with someone?"
"No, ma'am. I don't tend to spill my secrets and it's none of your business."
"Why are you in uniform when the other Avengers aren't?" Steve grinned recklessly as he turned to his team-mates and they all showed him the same grin. "That doesn't answer the question."
"Sure it does, doll face. He's got a secret identity that he doesn't want public." Tony drawled, sarcasm evident in every word. "We're done."
As soon as they were safely ensconced in Stark Mansion he threw back his cowl and inhaled the scent of all of them. His wings relaxed from their stiff positions, the tips sweeping the floor as he walks to his room and drops his shield gently to the floor. Making quick work of his uniform, he changes into his casual clothes that he packed which Phil had delivered. Steve's nose tells him someone's cooking something and that he (read his stomach) wants some. Poking his head into the room leads to him seeing Bruce cooking something he hasn't seen before. He makes his steps slightly louder as he enters the room as to not startle the quieter genius.
"Hi. That smells great. Can I help?"
"Tonight's curry night but Tony's down in his lab; he normally helps. So, I could definitely use the extra pair of hands." Steve helps prepare the vegetables and the chunks of both beef and chicken. "Have they always been that big?" the casual tone almost covers the scientific question but not quite.
"No. They got bigger with the serum. They were about ten feet since I was so small. Dr. Erskine asked me if I'd ever flown with them the first time he saw them."
"At night in Central Park. Nobody looked up at night back then. They thought I was an owl or something." he laughed softly, shaking his head at the memory. "I asked him if my wings were a problem for the serum. He just gave me this look and he muttered something in German."
"Do you remember what it was?"
"Engel kommen in allen Größen. I still have no idea what that means..."
"Angels come in all sizes, sir." Steve jumped at JARVIS's voice before flicking his wings to soothe his ruffled feathers. "My apologies. It has been some months since you have heard my voice."
"No, it's fine. It'll take a while to get used to again. I missed you."
"Nice to know, sir. Shall I convey the message to the rest of the Avengers?"
"Did anyone else know?"
"I can count on one hand the number of people who knew; Mam, Da, the mid-wife, Dr. Erskine and myself. They don't show up on x-rays or anything radar or sonar related. I do show up on infrared but not night vision."
"Is that because of the serum or...?"
"At this point? I have no idea." Steve answered honestly, frowning as he felt fingers in his feathers. "Tony, get your hands out of my coverts. I can feel that and no, you may not pull out any that aren't coming out by themselves. That hurts like a son-of-gun."
"JARVIS, where were my fingers?"
"In what appears to be Captain Rogers' secondary coverts, sir."
Steve scratched and shook his wings, shedding feathers all over the floor as he realized what was happening, "Crap."
"Uhh, did you mean to do that?" Tony asked, his voice strained from trying not to laugh.
"I'm molting." he sighed, bending down to pick up his feathers. "I shed most of them within a week and they grow back pretty quick. It's usually every four to six years. Since I was frozen before my last molting season, it's happening now."
"Wow. That is an interesting pattern. Does it depend on how long you fly?"
"No. It just varies; most times it was four and another time it took six."
"Any difference in circumstances?"
"... I met Bucky when my six year cycle rolled around. Is that important?"
"It slowed the cycle because you were happy. Umm, did your Dad-"
"Have wings? No. My Mam had little ones that Da knew about. He loved them. He always used to call us his angels. Took me forever to realize why." His voice turns soft as a bittersweet smile crosses his face.
"So it's both genders. Hmm. I'll need to analyze these feathers but I think the serum made them stronger than they were."
"Were they always a bunch of colors?" Tony asks as he's setting up the dining room table.
"They started out the same color as Warren's and by the time both my parents had died, they were starting to turn cream. When Bucky went off, some of the feathers turned bluejay blue. The serum didn't change them much but each person I get close to has a color or colors depending on what I think of them."
"So... What's with the purple and tan ones?" Clint asked.
That made him laugh and respond, "Those are yours."
"Oh." He could practically feel the embarrassment.
"Can you tell us whose colors are whose?" Bruce asked as he finished up the massive amount of curry.
"Natasha's are deep red and black; Phil's are light blue and blue-black; Thor's are red and silver; yours are chocolate and deep green; Tony's got three colors, which are cherry red, gold and a shade that I call arc-reactor blue. It's complicated. You can keep the ones that represent you, if you like." he offered as he flicked his wings in annoyance as they itched and more feathers floated off and onto the ground. "Oh, I can't wait for them to stop itching."
"Why do they itch?" Natasha asked as she swept all the feathers up and dumped them into a clear plastic bag. "How many more days of this do we have to endure?"
"The feathers are fully matured and new ones are growing in their place. Another day or so, I think. This is my first time shedding on the serum, before it would take weeks or nearly two months to stop."
"Much like a real bird. Hmm. Sit, eat."
Tony invented a machine that would follow Steve around and collect all of the fallen feathers. His own prediction of another day or so proved to be right; he stopped molting around day three as his feathers grew in at a fairly fast pace. Steve swiveled his wings over a plastic mat that would collect anymore stray feathers but found they were all perfectly healthy.
"Hmm. I could get used to three-day molting periods..." he muttered as he started grooming his feathers from the marginal coverts to the tips of his primaries. Scowling darkly at the scapulars that covered where his wings joined his body, Steve gave up on grooming for the moment.
"Do you need any help?" Bruce's soft voice interjected on his disgruntled thoughts as he sighed.
"Yes. I can't... reach... those." he twisted and turned, trying to get near the tiny feathers. "My Mam used to groom those and then the mid-wife after she died. They've been neglected for a while now."
"I don't have anything pressing at the moment. I could do it for you, if you don't mind?"
"Please?" He hummed as he laid out on the plush carpet and stretched his wings out in the den. "JARVIS, warn us if someone's gonna step on my wings, if you don't-"
Steve groaned softly as Bruce threaded his fingers through the scapulars, spreading the faint sheen of oil over them and then starting on his left wing. He stiffened as slender fingers brushed the scar tissue.
"Steve? You don't have to tell me."
"... I tried to cut my wings off once. I barely touched the left before my Mam stopped me. It bled a lot but it was a pretty deep cut." Steve admitted quietly as Bruce's fingers resumed their slide into his feathers. "That was when I was fourteen and wanted to be normal, not stuck wearing a shirt on hot days. This was before I could retract them."
"It's been difficult to hide them for the longest time. I'm glad I don't have to unless I'm out buying groceries as Steve Rogers." he continued as Bruce switched wings.
"The closer you are to someone the more feathers they have, right?" Steve swallowed sharply as Bruce carded through a large patch of chocolate and dark green feathers that tingled when his fingers touched them.
"You consider us close?"
"You're grooming my wings. Hulk & I have an understanding. I'd say we're pretty close."
"... Would you let Tony groom them?"
"If he asked nicely enough."
"Phil. But I trust you more." he answered honestly, completely relaxed as Bruce finished up with his right primaries. "Thank you." Steve stood, rolled his shoulders and snapped his wings hard enough so that the excess oil slid along the feathers correctly. "Finally. Breakfast?"
Steve told himself often enough that he was no home-wrecker but he couldn't help his reaction at seeing Tony pin Bruce up against the glass of their personal lab, white teeth biting into the tan neck of the other with abandon. Tony's hands were sliding up and down Bruce's sensitive body, caressing at obvious hot-spots.
"Tony... Nngh... So good..." Bruce's fingers had wound their way into Tony's perpetual bed-head, dark silky strands a sharp contrast to warm skin. He fled back to his room and sketched until his hands cramped up as he tried to excise his thoughts.
This was not to be, however, as Tony took to accosting Bruce at inappropriate places and times. Breakfast was the worst, followed by the heavy make-out sessions on the couch at night. He sat stiffly on the edge of the couch one such evening studiously avoiding looking at the pair while watching Animal Planet documentaries. A sharp moan had his wings puffed up, his mind barely concentrated on the hunting habits of the lionesses. Steve took the quiet groans and sharp intakes of breath for about another ten minutes before vaulting over the couch. He headed straight for the gym, beating the crap out of the bag Tony had made just for him. Wrenching his thoughts away from the sounds that featured in his dreams, he punched the bag so hard it shattered the concrete behind it. He'd noticed Thor on his peripheral vision for a few minutes now.
"Friend Steven, is something on your mind? You only abuse the bag when you are thinking or frustrated."
"... What I'm thinking is wrong, Thor. I just have to keep reminding myself of that."
"Will you not confide in me?" Maybe Thor would understand his jumbled thoughts; he certainly didn't.
"I like Tony."
"He is an excellent shield brother. I see no problem with liking him."
"No, not platonically, I mean I like him romantically. But I also feel the same way about Bruce. The thing is that they're exclusive with each other. Do you understand my problem now?"
"You like both Friends Tony and Bruce but they are in what Lady Jane terms a relationship, yes?"
"Have you not asked them how they would feel about a polyfidelitious triad?"
"Have you asked them if they would like to share?" Thor grinned, slapping his shoulder when he realized exactly what the god had said.
"No. It's better to stay silent. Don't tell anyone, please?"
Missions came, went and replaced themselves with regularity. They fought battles, fought with each other sometimes but always stayed together. Team movie/TV marathon night only reinforced that fact.
"Why is there never anything for you, Steve?" Clint asked casually as he skimmed over the massive DVD collection Tony had.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, there's never a winged protagonist."
"People normally don't have wings. I was born this way."
"Hmm. We're watching Peter Pan the live version!" An affirmative was hummed from somewhere in the pile of blankets on the den floor. Steve stretched, his wings unfurling and rustling slightly as they shook for a second. He was half-asleep when Thor brought up the topic of couples in movies... Which then moved onto forbidden territory. Thank God that Tony and Bruce had gone to bed earlier.
"In Asgard, triads are acceptable. This does not appear to extend to Midgard. Why is that?"
"Well, people stay monogamous. They stay together for life."
"Then it is unusual to like or love a couple and wishing to join in?"
"Most of the time, yeah." Clint answered. "But Nat and I share Phil."
"You are in a triad. Pray tell, what is it like?"
"Well, a lot of compromise, for starters. If you did something stupid, apologize the best way you know how." Clint continued, sounding thoughtful. "Hey, you think that Steve's interested in Tony and Bruce?"
"Why would you say that?"
"Look at his wings. Bruce and Tony have more space than all of us combined... Their patches are pretty close too, you know, like he knows they're together."
"It is up to Steven to answer that question. He has asked me to keep silent on the matter."
"Oh, he made you promise."
"Aye. My word is honorable." Steve was glad he'd rung that promise from Thor now.
He woke up wrapped in his wings, completely rested and content. The strange weight on his chest was something new though. Steve looked down and bit his lip so that he wouldn't yell in shock. Bruce was on one side and Tony had made his arm fall asleep by using it as a pillow. Natasha cackled softly and took a picture before staring at his predicament, snickering occasionally.
Steve hissed at her, "Help me."
"No. This is far too entertaining."
"I'll stop making strawberry waffles in the morning if you don't help me out of this!" he whisper-threatened as Tony snuggled further into his wing.
"I can't. Bruce's legs are tangled in both yours and Tony's and it's not good to wake him when he isn't ready." Steve did know that and resigned himself to an embarrassing morning. Bruce inhaled his scent, humming lightly before pressing fully against him.
"Damn it." he sighed, relaxing as Bruce stayed where he was.
"I like this pillow."
"Huh? Wha' pillow?"
"Th' warm, soft body pillow."
"Not a pillow. Check face." the grunted answers were sweet in a weird way and made him smile softly at a bleary Bruce.
"Who'd w' cuddle dis time?"
"Mmm." He waited for the inevitable. "Did ya jus' say Steve?"
"'Swhat I said." Tony pulled away first, taking Bruce's warm weight with him. "Sorry."
"We," Here Bruce yawned and then rubbed at his eyes; Steve melted a little on the inside because it was so cute. "like to cuddle with whoever's on the floor. It became a habit."
"Really, it's fine. Here." he handed the shier genius his glasses and helped put them on. "I'll go make breakfast then?"
Breakfast was usually filled with sleepy kisses and hugs but this morning was different. Tony and Bruce just held hands on top of the table and used each other as pillows as they were only slightly lucid without coffee. Clint was sound asleep in his chair, slumped over on his chair and holding onto Natasha's kunai. Natasha was making coffee to wake the three up and Thor was taking the massive platters of bacon and eggs to the table. He knew that either himself or Thor would have to wake Clint; Tony was best for Bruce. Soft snuffles and Clint's hand fidgeting around the kunai meant that he smelled the food.
"Yes it is, but what did I say about weaponry on my table?" he reprimanded as he tapped his house-slippered foot.
"Put it on the Go-To table?" Clint yawned as he pulled out several other pieces of weaponry and placed them all on the side table specifically designed to hold the weight of all essential gear. He'd be damned before weaponry wars on HIS furniture started again; last time had resulted in scratches, scrapes and general mayhem on the imported Irish black bogwood table. The same rule applied for tech, chemicals and Mjolnir. Yes the hammer needed its own category, he thought wryly as the memory of the table creaking in protest replayed in his mind.
"Why?" the archer was a pain if he wasn't woken properly... This was one of those days. Steve averted a potential disaster by waving Clint's cup of coffee under his twitching nose. "Mmm, coffee."
"Follow the coffee. It goes in the direction of food." Natasha prompted before bursting into near silent giggles.
"Hmm, smart coffee."
The rest of breakfast passed without any incidences and Clint was now laughing at the footage of himself whining.
"Dude, I'm such a bastard in the mornings... Why did no one tell me?"
"Tact for one and two for the fact that it makes Natasha giggle in the morning." he hummed as he inspected the movie wall. The Mummy looked interesting enough...
Three movies later, he and Clint were avidly discussing Egyptian mythology when Thor happened upon them.
"Bast is the most interesting besides Anubis. I mean, she takes on acolytes based on their heart of hearts while Anubis judges your life by weighing your deeds which take the form of your heart."
"Why are you discussing another pantheon?"
"Huh?" Clint said with confusion.
"The Goddess and God you spoke of do exist. The pantheons get together every thousand years in Asgard."
"Wait, they're real?" Steve managed around his shock.
"Aye. Though Hermes does wish to meet you."
"... Any reason in particular?"
Fury held him behind one meeting, merely stating that he wished to speak to him about command and arrangements.
"Sir, you wanted to speak with me?"
"Sit Rogers." Steve sat down warily, his wings draping over the low-backed chair Tony'd made for him. "You look like you're chewing on a lemon."
"I have no idea what you want with me, sir. Forgive me if I think you're about to cart me off to the science department." he shot back, his marginal coverts and scapulars stiff with repressed anger.
"That's actually what I wanted to talk to you about, Rogers. When you resigned-"
"I did it for my safety." Steve counters coolly, "Or are you telling me S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn't have instantly requisitioned me for a lab rat? I had enough of that as the super soldier."
"That's the thing, Captain. You're under our protection and you didn't have to drop off the grid. We're not the bad guys. When you resigned, we had trouble telling Agents to stay. You're an influential man whether or not you realize it, Steve, and we've even set up a meeting with Professor Xavier of the Xavier Institution for Higher Learning."
"A telepathic mutant who is on our kill list."
"Kill list? Is he dangerous?"
"No. He's pro-human and we'd like to keep it that way. He handles the Brotherhood via his X-Men for us as a favor."
"What does that have to do with me, sir?"
"You're a mutant. I think you need an assessment from some professional ones."
"When do I start?"
Meeting up with fellow mutants makes him jittery and he finally gives into the urge to polish his shield for the thousandth time. Yes he's been counting because if he doesn't his mind will wander elsewhere. The Avengers are with him, Tony and Bruce talking shop (half of which his mind is filing away for later revision and the other half just pining after both men) and Natasha, Clint & Thor were having a rousing game of poker. Natasha's going to win because she drew the lucky cards & she's got this micro-smirk he knows means business. He hums faintly and startles when there's an echo.
"My Mother used to sing me to sleep with that." Tony mumbled, "Unconscious memory."
They arrived shortly after Tony's embarrassment, meeting with Fury first.
"No idiocy while we're here; that means you two." Here he stared down both Tony and Clint as they tended to cause trouble where ever they went (at least with Tony it seemed that trouble followed him). "This is team-to-team and we're just here to see Rogers tested out. Are we clear?"
"Yeah, yeah, we get it already. Can we go now?" Tony huffed, messing around with his StarkPhone as he started walking with his hand in Bruce's back pocket. The rest of them followed, being greeted by a man in a wheelchair and a woman with lush red hair.
"Hello." his wings were loose, relaxed in the presence of his fellow Avengers. This man didn't set him on edge and he relaxed further. "I'm Steve Rogers."
"Charles Xavier. Tell me, have they caused you any trouble?"
"I've tripped over them once or twice when I was younger but now they're very much a part of me." They walked away from the rest of the groups meeting, Steve pushing the Professor's chair slowly around the grounds. He yawned and stretched his wings out, flicking them separately to stretch any missed muscles.
"You're quite comfortable with me."
"Mmm. It's nice to just walk without getting stared at because some of these kids share the same traits."
"Stark thinks on several levels but I've never seen a mind quite like yours."
"Really?" Now he was curious, stopping at a spot near the lake.
"Indeed. While Tony seems to think on parallel levels, your mind processes at two different speeds. There are the deep-seated thoughts associated with both Bruce and Tony-"
"Don't tell them." he murmured as he sat down in the dirt next to the Professor.
"I won't and please, call me Charles. You know where they are and how to defend them even though they are completely out of your sight. Then there are the surface-level thoughts which are slightly faster than most people's and consist of today's activities, the fact that Natasha won the poker game and you're analyzing everything I say and cataloguing it away for review later. There's also... A third level but it's not like Tony's system. This one seems to regulate your wings and mutant abilities. It is almost animal-like, a bird of prey as opposed to a sparrow. It's what controls your wings and the other parts that you had before the serum."
"Huh, that is a bit odd."
"Would you like to be tested now?"
The room was all silver and slightly cold, which made him think of deep black water that slowly choked him.
"Steve?" the worry in Tony's voice from the intercom had him shaking his head, focusing on the robot that just walked towards him. He'd always wanted to try something but he'd held back for fear of hurting someone. The right wing snapped forward with the blunt edge making contact with the chest of the robot, shattering it and sending the entire thing flying about three feet backwards. He darted forward with a single snap of his wings, slamming into it again with his other wing and gasping in shock when the robot bounced hard enough off the ground to snap someone's spine from the force he'd generated. It broke in half with a resounding crack. Steve backed away slowly, his wings furling in and his body language tight.
Steve, it's alright. You had no idea that was going to happen. Please continue as the room is trying to kill you. Charles's warning came not a second too late as he ducked another robot, this one with a gun. His fingers twitched for a shield that wasn't there. Jumping up, he kicked out sharply, sending the gun in one direction and the broken arm in another. He punched harder than he normally did, getting used to the room as he fought through progressively harder levels. Steve took to the air when the floor started heating up, keeping his wings beats slow and steady, avoiding the sharp objects and darts thrown at him with difficulty. Spiraling, he went to the very ceiling before feinting down, narrowly avoiding the bullets before he kicked the two Gatling guns to pieces.
His body was in full battle-mode, acting on instinct as his wings nearly got singed from the flame-throwers on the ceiling. An idea formed as he dove out of the way of yet another gout of flames. He spun to the right of the first flamethrower, which ignited the second one, turning back to disable the first with a well place punch. His muscles ached but the floor was still too hot for him to land on. Looking down proved to be a bad idea as he barely had time to react to the iron fist headed straight for his head. It punched him square in the chest, all of his air leaving his lungs with a grunt. He glided down to the floor and collapsed, coughing as he tried to regain air. He heard the sound of the room powering down as he sucked in ragged breaths. Muscles spasmed as he tried to get up from his position on the floor.
"Steve?" that was Bruce as he knelt beside Steve, carefully examining him for any injuries.
"Sore." he managed before going back to breathing slow, deep breaths.
"That was quite a kick to the chest, can you turn over?"
"No." That word was even shorter as he catalogued the various injuries he had.
"You've got some burnt feathers." That explained the smell. "Various scrapes and bruises but you should be good in a few days."
When he woke up, his wings snapped out fully, sending something (or someone, judging from the colorful curses) crashing to the floor.
"Ma cher, you shouldn't have touched him." the male voice was unfamiliar but laced with a New Orleans accent.
"But Ah wanted to see if he was feelin' any better." This one was a Deep Southern drawl and the same one that had cursed beforehand. He cracked open his eye to see a man in a brown trench coat and red and black eyes. The second voice clearly belonged to the young lady in front of him with a white streak in her otherwise perfectly chocolate hair.
"I don't think we've met." Steve said as he rotated his wings before folding them slowly (the muscles still twinged faintly as he did so).
"Gambit, mon ami and dis here is Rogue." the rolling accent had him smiling.
"Steve, but I'm better known as Captain America." he said as he checked out the room he was in. "What are you doing here?"
"The Professor said you'd wake up soon but he didn't say when. We're supposed to lead you to the kitchen." Rogue replied as she stood up. Steve did the same, only slower as his head spun a little. "Looks lahke you went ten rounds with Wolverine..."
"No, the Danger Room. I got 'tested'." Rogue wrinkled her nose at the mention.
"Ah see. Ah don' lahke that room. Gives me the heebie geebies."
"It does, doesn't it?" he admitted wryly as they made their way through hallways full of teenagers and children. He did get looks of amazement as his wings finally deemed him safe and the tips brushed the ground behind him.
"Mon ami, I don't mean to press but..."
"No, go ahead."
"Your wings are dragging on the ground."
"It's safe here." he hummed as he rounded the corner to see all of the Avengers look up.
"Steve! You scared the ever-loving shit out of us!" Tony hugged him tightly, followed by the rest of the Avengers.
"Damn right you're sorry..." came the mumbled response.
"Language." both he and the red-head from earlier admonished absently. They looked at each other and laughed.
"Logan doesn't watch his language around the children."
"Tony could care less."
"As much of a cute fest that was, what's the verdict? Can we have our Capsicle back?"
"He'll be fine in a few hours. That was amazing though. No one's gone more than eight rounds with the Danger Room." she reassured even as she sounded impressed.
"How many was that?"
"Oh. How many hours?"
"Same amount. Each stage lasts a little longer and by the time your muscles gave out it was close to fourteen. It's an impressive feat. That move in the beginning..."
"I'd never tried it before because I knew it could cause some damage but... not to that extent."
"I gathered as much."
"Telepath and telekinesis, which is moving things with my mind."
"The Professor was right, though, about your mind."
"He explained it to me."
"I know, I just thought he was joking with me about the complexity."
"Does he tend to do that a lot?" Steve asked, still piled by Tony and Bruce. The other three were content to see to him from a distance after the initial embrace.
"No. Are the three of you together? Your thoughts are all in the same direction..." At that, Steve blushed and shoved the thoughts further away. "Oh. I'm sorry."
"Don't be." he flashed her a small smile to tell her it was alright.
Are you ever going to tell them?
No. It's not my place to tell them that. It's the fact that they work so well together. I can't be the cause of them splitting up. I'm not that selfish.
You should be. You deserve to be happy too, you know.
Not at their expense. She gave him an understanding look as he wrapped his wings a little tighter around them.
Less than a week after being tested, both Tony and Bruce were kidnapped.
"JARVIS, have you got a lock on Tony's phone?"
"No, sir but I have been tracking Bruce's chip."
"A microchip he agreed to have implanted in case he ever felt the need to flee. I suspect they were taken together, sir, but that is speculation. They may have Sir elsewhere but the odds are not likely."
"Good luck, sir."
"I think we'll need it."
He flew quietly, spreading the vanes of each feather so that the sound of his wings flapping dulled considerably. Steve was holding Clint, who was tracking them with a device.
"Anything yet?" he asked over the comm.
"We're getting closer. Drop down should be in five minutes if we continue to fly at this speed." the archer answered back with surety. They landed softly and took off running in the direction of the chip. The facility clearly hadn't expected a rescue attempt; they cleared the rooms with an alarming rate.
"I don't like this." he told them over the comm. as he continued forward. "It smells like a trap."
"Could've told you that Cap." Clint snarked as he took back the arrows he'd loosed.
"Oh look it's the Avengers to the rescue." He had no idea who this woman was but he didn't like the look of her. "Tony, baby, tell them."
"She's got explosives rigged under your feet to blow the second any of you move for me."
"Where's Bruce?" he said instead of replying to the snide comment she'd made.
"Oh, you mean the sedated monster?"
"He is not a monster."
"What do you call the nine foot beast that emerges when he's angry then, Captain?"
"The Hulk. We've got an understanding." he murmured dryly as his tactical mind swept around the room, taking in exits or exits he could make before he attacked her. "Hawkeye, I'm sorry about this."
"Sorry about-WAH!" Steve knocked him away from the explosive in time, retracting his singed wing with little difficulty.
"I applaud your efforts to save your team-mates."
"I said, where is Bruce?"
"Mindless beast is caged below us." she sniffed imperiously. "You're a mutant. Why are you still concerned over this piece of trash?"
"You know what they say, one man's trash is another's treasure. I don't want to hit a lady but I will if it's necessary."
"Ooo, and here I thought chivalry was deader than a doornail."
"Shut up, Sunset, no one wants to hear your monologues." Tony drew her attention again and Steve took off with barely a whisper, slamming the edge of his wing into her shoulder. He winced at the loud crack signifying that he'd broken something of hers but picked up a still-drugged Tony nonetheless.
"Don't take what's mine again and we won't have any more problems, Miss." he stated coolly as he pinned her down with one wing.
"Keep the bastard."
"Gladly." he huffed as he followed Clint down the hallways to reveal a sleeping Bruce. Steve hefted the shier genius the same way he'd done for Tony, both of them barely straining his muscles. "Is the Quinjet ready?"
"Yep. What did you mean by that?"
"By what, Clint?"
"That she shouldn't take what's yours."
"You're all my team-mates. Of course I'd say that." he brushed it off walking slowly as Tony snuggled close, his fingers tangling into Steve's minor inner coverts. Bruce hummed and did the same with his scapulars. "They're really... cuddly when they're drugged, aren't they?" he laughed quietly as Bruce snuffled.
Trying to remove them from his wings proved to be futile, especially since Tony's fingers had somehow become interlocked with his primaries and to try & remove them hurt.
"Pffffahahahaha. You're stuck, aren't you?"
"You try having Tony's fingers burrowed in your feathers so far that you can't remove them without it hurting." he shot back as his slow burning fuse shortened, "And then multiply that reaction times two with Bruce and you'll get frustrated too."
"Whoa, okay. Sorry... You need anything?"
"A sandwich? My metabolism is killing me." He ate his sandwich and watched another documentary as the two geniuses slept on. "JARVIS, how long will this take to wear off?"
"Roughly another three hours, sir. Would you like some pizza?"
"Yes please. Tell the rest it's fend-for-yourself-night. I can't cook with these two hanging onto me."
"May I say that you look quite nice together?"
"JARVIS... Not you too. Who put you up to this?"
"Thor, sir, though I do agree with him."
"Does everyone but Tony and Bruce know?"
"Indeed they do, sir. May I suggest going to the pool more often?"
"Sure, why not?"
He felt ridiculous when Thor had thrown these boxy swim-trunks at him earlier but found he liked the design.
"Bruce, can you groom my wings? They make a water-proof oil as well." Bruce turned bright red as he stepped out of the changing room the mansion offered. "Bruce? Are you alright?"
"Fine! I'm fine." Bruce managed to speak around what was clearly embarrassment. "Umm, who picked those out?"
"Thor. They're actually really comfortable. So... my wings? I mean, I can tuck them in if you'd rather not-"
"No, I can groom them." Bruce slid his fingers through the feathers, lingering on his scapulars as if remembering last night where they'd gained some lucidity and had promptly been fed pizza. "Your wings... They've been singed." The burnt ones had fallen out when Bruce had gone over his wings.
"You got hurt..."
"Bruce," here he turned around and placed his hands on thin shoulders. "I'm fine. I promise, okay?" Steve spread them out all the way to show Bruce that nothing else had been damaged. "Thank you."
Tony's reaction was priceless. Instead of turning bright red like Bruce, he'd wolf-whistled as Steve shot into the sky and dove into the cool bliss of water. He surfaced with a flick of his head, deciding to swim backwards using his wings as propellers.
"That is most amazing, Friend Steven! Is it like flying in the air?"
"Hmm, a little lazier but yes." he swam for a bit more before tucking his wings against his back and swimming laps back and forth in the area deemed for that. Steve pulled himself out and shook like a dog, spraying water everywhere as his feathers fluffed out. Flopping onto one of the lounges he yawned and curled up, his wings furling around him to keep the sunlight to a minimum. He dozed lightly, half-awake when they started talking.
"Damn, if I didn't know any better, I'd say he was trying to seduce someone." Tony laughed as he sat in the hot tub.
"I do know better and he is." Natasha threw in as she filed her nails, the scratch of the emery board against her nails constant.
"Whoever it is, they're a lucky sonofabitch."
"I'd say so. He can cook, clean and beat the snot out of whoever takes the piss out of gay guys." Clint added, clearly fed up with his avoidance policy.
"Aye. Though I do not know the meaning of gay beyond happy."
"Huh. Umm, it's where two guys go mutually exclusive."
"Noooo, like monogamous. Tony and Bruce are gay."
"And your assumption of the Captain?"
"He'll only be sexually attracted to someone he's close with."
"I could swear he was straight."
"Nope. Cap's attracted to the personality first and doesn't consider gender. Hey, Cap!"
"Do you go for gender or personality?"
"... Personality." he mumbled, not paying attention as his mind slipped back into the half-asleep stage.
"Damn. Well, we have to get Capsicle his date then."
"Ask him first, genius."
"Whatever. Pep's got a good sense for people. She'll tell me."
The first blind date was his last. The woman was kind, polite and not at all his type (literally).
"My friends set up this date thinking I'd go straight."
"Not very good friends then. Mine just want to see me happy."
"Yours are better than mine then, Steve."
"I wish. I'm in love with two of them." he countered wryly, enjoying the dinner even if she wasn't interested in the least.
"Goodbye. I had a nice time. Call me if you get what you're after, alright?"
He tugged the tie off, took off both the jacket & shirt and stretched his wings out with a sigh. Sliding on his wing shirt, he walked over to the fridge and opened it.
"How'd it go?" Clint asked from the couch as Steve fixed himself a good, hearty sandwich.
"Decent. She's decidedly not into guys; not even "human perfection" as Tony put it." he said before he munched on his sandwich and wandered over to the squashy couch cushion he'd claimed as his own (little down feathers littered the area because Tony kept stealing them while he was asleep and he liked to indulge his genius).
"No more dates?"
"Please. I don't want anyone else."
"Just the ones you can't have?"
"I suppose." he chuckled dryly
"Permission to move onto Plan B?"
"Exactly what is Plan B?"
"It starts with the gym..."
Sweat was running down his face as he worked out at his usual time but what was unusual was that Natasha had stolen Tony from the lab, muttering something about the louder genius not being fit enough. He lifted his shirt and wiped his face just as Natasha landed a solid right hook on Tony's jaw.
"Natasha!" Steve blocked the next four hits and kicked her away as he helped Tony up. "I'm sorry. She's usually not so vicious." He hissed in sympathy at the dark bruise welling up on Tony's face. "Here, let's go get Bruce to see to that." Taking Tony's hand without a thought, he lead him straight to the lab and put in his code. "Bruce? Tony's been hit."
"Natasha dragged him out of the-Oh. Come here." Bruce's slender fingers tilted Tony's face to the side, touching it gently.
"He kicked her away. 'Mfine. Ow!" Tony said before Bruce poked harder at the bruise. "Jerk."
"You should be fine but you'll have a nice one for a few days."
"Hate Pep now. Have a meeting in two hours." Tony slurred into Bruce's shoulder from where he'd buried his face. "Don' wanna go."
"I'll tell her. Besides, how bad can the board be?"
Famous last words as he was dragged in place of Tony, messy wings and all. Pepper didn't seem to care that she was almost ousting his secret identity to Tony's board.
"Tony's not able to come in today. Avengers business."
"Ms. Potts, what is this man doing here?"
"He's Tony's boss when I'm not. Now, about the fourth quarter..." He paid attention, took notes in Tony's place and even managed a doodle or two when Pepper wasn't looking straight at him. "Until next time, gentlemen."
"Ms. Potts." he kept his tone polite as he blocked her exit with his wings. "I prefer to keep my life private beyond my duty to the Avengers. Do that again and I will be forced to take unfavorable actions against you." Steve nearly snarled the last words, snapping his wings to contain his anger. "I will not have it."
"Tony wouldn't come-"
"You could have at least let me retract my wings."
"I didn't use your name." she countered bravely, a slight tremor in her hands as she readjusted her clip-board.
"It's obvious who I was. Tony had a bruise the size of Nat's fist because she punched him under the guise of 'training'. You've handled meeting like this without him before. What gives?" he growled as he folded his wings unconsciously.
"Apology accepted but not the reason you brought me here."
"I love Tony."
"... That gives you the right to harass me?"
"I know that you love them." Steve's expression turned stony as his eyes narrowed. "I know that you're not going to say anything. I think you should."
"Oh, for God's sake. All of you can't just leave well enough alone. I'm fine looking from a distance. I'm not participating in anymore silly schemes."
It was actually Bruce who brought it up next. They were cooking breakfast together, which they did every Thursday since everyone else was doing their own activities.
"Hmm?" he hummed as he cooked the chorizo, his wings flicking to the beat of the song on the radio.
"If someone liked you, what would you say?"
"Depends on the person asking." Steve answered, flipping the browning sausage with a casual move.
"Hypothetically, if I asked you who you liked..."
"I'd hypothetically say you and Tony." he murmured absent-mindedly as he hunted for the salt and pepper. A clatter had him turning around to see an open-mouthed Bruce. He turned off the stove top while the shier genius took a while to gather his thoughts. He plated up their usual breakfast and sat in his seat, waiting for Bruce to snap out of it.
"Tony and I?"
"Hypothetically speaking, right?" he said, cursing his politeness for once.
"Yes, it was. Any reason in particular it's both of us?"
"Ask Tony what he thinks of you, take what you think of Tony and you have my hypothetical opinion." It hurt to talk like this but he did it anyway. After Bruce went down to the labs, JARVIS spoke quietly.
"Sir, why did you lie to him?"
"He's Tony's and Tony's for Bruce. It just hurts to talk like that."
"I wouldn't know how it feels, sir, but is there anything I can do?"
"A bucket of rainbow sherbet and crappy T.V. in my room sounds great."
"A common coping method of Ms. Potts. Would you like company?"
"Yes. Yes I would."
Ms. Potts (once he got past her methods of threatening) turned out to be absolutely delightful.
"Oh, if I ran the other way, you'd be perfect." he sighed as he channel-flipped. "Unfortunately, my tastes run to geniuses I couldn't possibly keep up with and damn beautiful to look at. Ugh. Why?"
"You'd be gorgeous together."
"Really?" his wings arched before he realized why he was having the conversation to begin with. "You know, being in love with your friends sucks."
"Tell me about it. I've wanted to date Happy for ages."
"Then date him! He's a good guy."
"Yes. Now call him up. Go on."
"Am I interrupting anything?" Clint asked as he dropped down from the vent.
"Aside from my heart feeling like it was stabbed after a 'hypothetical' conversation with Bruce? Trying to coax Pepper into a date with Happy."
"Hmm. Go for it. He's been complaining about this gorgeous red-headed CEO to me for months now..." Hawkeye grinned as Pepper blushed lightly. "Here. I dialed his number."
"Do you need to go somewhere, Ms. Potts?"
"Actually, Happy, I was hoping for..." Steve nodded to encourage her and she smiled as she finished, "a date."
"Well, just you and I. Do you mind terribly?"
"I'll pick you up at seven, Ms. Potts."
"Pepper. Call me Pepper."
"Of course, Pepper." he said as he hung up. She squealed and hugged Steve tight, watching his wings with good measure.
"See?" he grinned, hugging back gently.
"Oh, you really are a sweetheart."
"Who's a sweetheart?" Steve's smile dulled a little at Tony's voice and his lips pressed into a thin line when Bruce also spoke.
"And since when did you two hug?"
"I have a date with Happy and Steve helped." she flashed both of them a beautiful smile as she clicked away in her heels.
"Oh. They'll be a good couple." Bruce hummed as he cleaned up.
"So... Bruce had a conversation with you." He stiffened and walked away, gritting his teeth as he took the stairs three at a time to the gym. Wrapping his hands took a little less than a minute and he was taking his anger and sadness out on the bag again. "Steve?"
"Not now, Tony." he growled as he threw a particularly harsh haymaker. "Bad day." The wall behind the bag cracked as he landed heavier and heavier hits, burying it into the wall as he got lost in the rhythm. "JARVIS, Playlist Two." Music rolled over him as sweat mixed with his tears. Steve left off punching and began to batter the bag with his wings, heaving in a broken breath as he sank to his knees. Choked sobs escaped him as he let out all of his frustration, pain and heartache out. The last thought before he slept was that he hoped Tony nor Bruce had seen him do such a thing.
Warmth was the first thought that registered, followed by the fact that he was wedged between two bodies.
"JARVIS, why didn't you say anything?" Tony demanded even as he smoothed a hand through Steve's hair.
"He asked me to keep quiet, sir."
"And the rest of you?"
"We told him to go for it. The swim-trunks, the purposefully getting sweaty... C'mon, don't tell me you didn't see that."
"We thought it was for someone else." Bruce murmured as his fingers carded through his scapulars. "That conversation we had this morning must have really hurt him. I haven't ever seen him break down... He's taken out his frustration on the bag but never like that; that was terrifying. It was like he was trying to tear it apart with his bare hands."
"Probably was, the way he kept punching while I was still in the room." Tony's voice sounded sad now and Steve shifted so that he was pressed against Tony's thigh. "Even in sleep he takes care of us."
"We should've seen it. He's always protecting us, looking after us... Why didn't we see it sooner?"
"He's the type to hold it in until it's too much." Natasha said lowly, "I noticed about a month of us being a team and he realized it himself a few months afterward. Thor was third while Clint was the last besides the pair of you. Pepper figured it out on her own. He'll wake soon. We'll leave you to discuss it." Steve arched his back and yawned, his wings stretching & slowly shuddering as he woke fully.
"Umm not that I mind, but what am I doing here?" He took in a deep whiff of air, swallowing sharply. They were in Tony and Bruce's shared bedroom.
"We're calling that Bullshit reason # 1. Wanna try again?" Tony drawled, looking down at him from where Tony was sitting up on the headboard.
"You saw?" he whispered softly as he sat up.
"... Right before you started beating the crap out of the bag with your wings."
"Oh." Steve wanted to sink underground and not come up again when Bruce put a firm hand under his chin.
"You're embarrassed that we saw you break down?"
"That and the fact that you know now." he murmured as he made to get out of the king-sized bed. This time both Tony and Bruce pulled him back.
"Why on earth are you pulling away? I thought this was what you wanted." Bruce asserted with gentle authority.
"But it's not what you want." Steve finally hissed, getting angry again. "I told them I was content with distance. I know I can't have you both. It hurts but you're good for each other. You balance out. I'd just be in the way." By the time he finished, his voice was back to soft and hurt. "Can I go now? I promise-Mmph?" He barely registered that he was being kissed before his eyes slid shut of their own accord; kissing back because he knew this was probably his only chance with either one of them. Steve opened his eyes when Bruce pulled away and was shocked when Tony slid his tongue into his mouth, moaning lowly as he was gently petted & his wings fondled thoroughly. His eyes rolled back as he keened softly from the overwhelming sensations combined.
He slept in their bed that night, waking up spooned between them as he'd dreamed for so long. Bruce's hand was firmly wound around his hip and Tony's fingers were again buried in his wings. Steve squirmed a little and froze when Bruce nipped at his shoulder.
"Have to go pee." he countered lightly.
"Mmm, fine." The shier genius untangled Tony's fingers from his coverts, squeezing his hip once in what seemed to be an affectionate gesture. He found the ensuite and splashed water on his face after finishing his business. "Comin' back or fleein'?" Tony mumbled into the pillow he'd used to replace Steve's body-heat.
"Coming back." He settled back in his warm space, wrapping Tony in his wings since he seemed attached to them. Bruce snuggled up to his other wing and he ended up falling back asleep with his wings wrapped around them both.
The second awakening was far more pleasant as kisses were pressed along his spine and hands in his wings for what seemed to be the eighth time in two days.
"What's with m' wings?"
"They're soft and I've wanted to do that since you revealed them." Tony's mechanic fingers systematically carded through his feathers, making humming noises as Steve twitched or groaned softly. He moaned as Tony's exploring caught the gland that his Mam never purposely touched; he could see why now. It sent electric shocks down his body as slender fingers stroked over it again.
"Nngh... Sensitive place." he huffed as Bruce decided he was done marking Steve's shoulder with a love bite, cleverly seeking out the (now slick) oil gland. "Fuck."
"I think I like it when you curse. How does this feel?" Both of them fondled the glands on either side and he let out a broken moan as the pleasure raced through his system.
"Please..." Steve took in a shuddering breath as they pulled away, leaving him a puddle of goo. "Mmm, where are you two going?"
"I'll trust that excuse the day I can't throw you more than twenty feet by accident." He said before the cold air got to the still soaked glands and he swallowed sharply. "Ooohh... Not a good idea. JARVIS?"
"Warm air slowly circulating, sir." Steve sighed as the warm air soothed the glands, drying them out and leaving sticky residue in his feathers.
Stepping out of the shower meant he accidentally collided with Tony, who was covered in engine grease and what smelled like several chemicals he didn't remember cataloguing.
"Tony!" he laughingly admonished, looking down ruefully at his now greasy chest. "I just got out of the shower!"
"You did? Sorry. Bruce and I figured out what you were secreting."
"The oil in the gland." Tony dumbed it down for him and he nodded.
"Oh. What was it?"
"It's biologically similar to... Jeez, how do I say this without getting hit?"
"If I may, sir?"
"JARVIS! Knew I invented you for a reason." The look on Tony's face was visible relief as he didn't have to say it.
"The oil you release is similar to what female animals produce when in heat."
"Essentially, sir." Steve flushed bright red at JARVIS's matter-of-fact tone.
"So... How 'bout we share that shower?" He huffed, turning around and marching towards the gym shower with the towel plus his essentials without answering that taunt.
Breakfast was decidedly awkward before Steve cleared his throat.
"Did all of you see me?"
"No. Thor did carry you up to their bedroom though. JARVIS re-routed all verbal & physical searches for anything remotely dealing with that and set up these horrifying firewalls. Besides, only Tony and Bruce saw you." Natasha answered as she buttered her toast.
"Thank you JARVIS."
"My pleasure, sir."
"Then what's with the silence?" he asked, flicking his left wing because it felt off. Something skidded across the floor lying face down. He picked it up, raising an eyebrow at the message.
I think Tony has a wing kink. I'd stay away from him. -Clint
He spun to find Clint laughing in the rafters. Letting a grin slowly spread, Steve opened his wings and snapped them down to jump the distance with ease. Clint made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a meep as Steve pulled the five-fifty cord he kept on him for various occasions and tied the assassin to the rafter he'd been on for the past ten minutes. He hummed contentedly as he ate his toast and most of Clint's breakfast he'd made, kicking his feet back & forth as he waited for his geniuses.
"Where's Steve?" Tony asked as he scrubbed a towel through his hair. "Breakfast?" Thor merely pointed up and Tony cackled like a mad scientist.
"Still warm in the oven, Tony. Don't take Bruce's portion out until he wants it."
"What'd bird brain do now?" Steve made the message a paper airplane and it landed right next to Tony's coffee. At least his aim was still good with those, he thought fondly. "Nice. Yeah, apparently I do. Big deal. I have videos of you snuggling with your pile of fallen feathers so you can't say squat."
"Do we not all hold the feathers with our colors close?" Thor asked reasonably. "I have had Mother stitch them into a pillow. Would you like for her to do the same? She wishes to meet all of you here on Midgard."
"Wait, she's coming here?!" Clint yelped from his tied position. "Uh, no. We're terrible, Thor! Why would you subject your Mom to us?"
"She wishes to meet my shield brothers and sister in good faith. Father has everything well in hand whilst she visits." There was no arguing with Thor on the subject and it didn't come up again for several weeks.
They should have paid more attention to Thor's talks with Pepper, Steve thinks as he finds himself face to face with Queen Freya herself. He's in his house clothes (meaning a cut-up SSR shirt and low slung pj pants) and his wings aren't even groomed, meaning feathers are in various odd directions; this makes the meeting even more painful than it should be at any given moment.
"Hello." he says finally after collecting himself. "Please take a seat." Ignoring the fact that he's still slightly ruffled from bed, he starts making breakfast, well aware that her gaze is on his wings.
"You are Steven?"
"Thor mentioned the feathers but did not say that your beloved's colors appear to dominate most of all." Steve choked on his coffee that JARVIS brewed and swallowed to keep from spraying it everywhere.
"I've only seen them fully once and that was blurry at best, Your Majesty." he said politely concentrating on Bruce's tea and the rest of the Avenger's various breakfast foods. "Would you like anything?"
"Perhaps. I wish to meet with the rest of them."
"Tony's down in the labs with Bruce, Thor should be getting up and Nat as well as Clint should be done with sparring shortly. You don't mind waiting?"
"No. A few more minutes in your excellent company is just fine." Thor yawned as he snagged the plate of Poptarts piled just for him and did a double take at the elegant lady in the middle of their fancy kitchen.
"Mother! I am so glad you could make it."
"Thor, my son. You did not tell me the good Captain has manners even this early when startled."
"He is chivalrous. Beware of Friend Tony."
"I will not be shocked. It's been centuries since I have had any fun." she chuckled softly, the sound like tinkling bells to Steve's hyper-aware senses. "Oh? He is as we are?"
"He is the strongest mortal being I have met and he is much older than he seems." Steve blushed slightly as Tony pressed his face into his wings, arms wrapping around his hips as Freya watched with interest.
"Who's th' pretty lady?" came the muffled question from somewhere near his scapulars.
"Queen Freya of Asgard. Behave." he said dryly, knowing Tony would remember the conversation later and be at least slightly mortified at the appropriate time.
"Your usual after the labs."
"No. You can obviously taste the difference even in your non-lucid period. Same with Bruce's tea. Now, eggs or...?"
"Eggs. Protein needed for project Pep's workin' us for... Rrgh."
"Morning Steve. Tony, babe, you need a bed. I'll tell Pepper we need more time for the core maths to be corrected." Bruce pressed a sleepy kiss on his lips as he leaned down.
"'Kay. You comin' with?"
"Yes I will. We're not as young as we'd like to be, Tony."
"Mmmr, marathon las' week says diff'rent."
"You promised not to mention that in polite company." he sighed as he let Natasha take over breakfast. "Especially now."
"Sorry." Freya gave him an amused smile as he transferred Tony from his back to his front, letting Tony steal from his plate even as he fed his geniuses. "Not really all here at the moment. Ask Steve."
"He's in what we call a semi-lucid state where he'll hold a full conversation but he won't remember until later in the day. Tony will be very embarrassed."
"You're very close."
"Two triads living in the same space will do that." Natasha scoffed as she scooped tiny portions of everything onto a plate and placed it in front of Freya, handing her a fork as well. "Eat what you like and put the rest back. It always gets eaten in this household."
"Nat..." he warned, indicating with his eyes the relation she held with Thor.
"No, I do appreciate not being called Your Majesty every once in a while. It's refreshing. Two triads, you say?" she asked as soon as she swallowed a bite of Nat's pancakes. A small smile was shot Thor's way and he returned it with a beam.
"The last of ours is out buying fresh fruit for waffles." Clint hung upside down on a rope and from yet another rafter (he was starting to suspect Tony had them built for both he and Clint when the urge for high places came around). "You'll like him. Most everyone does; Tony's the exception but then again, Tony's himself."
A few weeks after her visit, they were all curled together on the couch watching some crappy B-rated movie.
"Bruce, Steve, what would you say to us adopting a kid?" Tony asked out of the blue.
"Depends on the circumstances and the child." came the prompt answer.
"JARVIS, display video." The movie was paused as they shifted to see the projected conference.
"I need you to keep a mutant child." Fury wasted no time at all in telling them.
"And why would we do that? Isn't that what Prof X is for?"
"Problem with that, Stark. The child's been bitten by a radioactive spider; the X-Men have no time for a seven-year old who won't even talk. So, either you take him or he goes into the system and we lose him."
"Bring him here." Steve found himself saying.
"What brought that on, Rogers?"
"No one should have to grieve alone." he'd been speed-reading through the file and had come to the probable reason as to why the child wasn't talking. "Especially a little boy."
"Stark? Banner? Any thoughts?"
"Nope. Bring him on over."
The quiet, wide-eyed boy dropped off (by a very disgruntled Fury, no less) is adorable. Steve melts a little on the inside as he kneels to the child's height and offers a hug, the small face pressed against his shoulder as the tears start to flow.
"Is that him?" Bruce asks quietly over the sound of muffled sobs.
"Yeah. Just let him cry it out." he replies as he rocks Peter (the name in the file) back and forth gently.
"Peter Parker. Hmm." Tony was busy looking him up with help from JARVIS. "How long did Fury say we were supposed to keep him?"
"I told him to take as long as he needs to for paperwork. He's a grieving child and needs stability right now."
"Whoa. Since when did you go all Papa bear and factual?" Tony asked incredulously, brows furrowing in genuine confusion.
"Since I saw his file. I was like that once, only I had my Mam to help me. He doesn't have anyone who's fit enough to take him."
"Aside from the Fantastic Four?"
"Are you kidding? Reeds is even worse than you with the lab. Johnny Storm isn't the kind of role model he should be and Ben just got married. Sue's far too busy." he huffed, chuckling softly as the tiny fingers sank into his feathers. "He already seems to take after the pair of you. Look." Bruce's gaze softened as he saw Peter's tear-stained face. Tony took a single look before he turned his formidable intelligence on whomever had denied little Peter the right to a family. Well, he'd see about that.
Peter had the Avengers wrapped around his finger by the end of two weeks and there wasn't anything they wouldn't do for him. So when Peter asked to go to the park with him, Steve had retracted his wings and had gone to get his jacket when he realized Peter was staring at where they'd been.
"Papa, why are your wings gone?"
"Some people don't like that I have wings, Pete."
"Why do you have to hide though? They're just bullies if you hafta hide."
"Alright, just as smart as your Daddy and Baba... You know how Daddy, Baba and I are superheroes?"
"Well, I have a side that other people aren't supposed to see. They don't know I'm a superhero and I'd like to keep it that way."
"Oh... Daddy says you shouldn't hafta hide it though."
"Daddy's Iron Man though. He can get away with that; so can Baba. I can't, little spider."
"Okay. But you'll take 'em back out once we get home, right?" Steve swallowed sharply at the disappointment on Peter's face.
"I'll keep them out. But you have to listen to me at all times and no wandering off, promise?"
They (mostly his wings) got stared at as they sat in the park and drew. Peter's stick figures amused him even as he let his child play with his feathers. Steve hummed as he drew from the memory of Peter sound asleep, pressed against both Bruce and Tony.
"Mom look! That man's got wings."
"Don't point, it's rude."
"He's got a kid my age, Mom. Can I ask him to play?"
"Politely and you won't ask whether or not he has wings."
"Mom. He'd have them out if he did." Steve shook his head as Peter peeped at the child from under his left wing.
"Can I play? I'm stronger than the others..."
"You just gotta be careful, little spider. Go ahead." The mother of the child Peter was playing with made her way over to their blanket and sat with her legs folded beneath her. "Hello."
"Hello. Jack's been driving me spare. Is he yours?"
"We adopted Peter." Steve hummed as he crosshatched the delicate shadows on Pete's face.
"We? You're married?"
"No. We live together though."
"You're together but not married. Any reason?"
"It's recent." he managed before his StarkPhone rang. "Excuse me for a moment. Yes, Tony?"
"Peter's busy making new friends. Are you chit-chatting up his Mom?" Steve laughed, rolling his eyes.
"No, Tony. I'm too busy chasing after both your asses to chat up a pretty lady. Besides, when was the last time the pair of you ate?"
"Mmmhmm. Eat and sleep or I'll strong-arm you to bed."
"Fine... You owe me. Bruce, noses!"
"Already up Tony."
"Damn. You owe Bruce a nice long kiss when you get back with Petey." He hung up with a broad smile and rocked in place as Peter nearly bowled him over in his enthusiasm.
"Papa, Papa! Jack said we could be friends."
"Uh-huh. He asked if your wings were real. I told him they were."
"Is that so? Tickle attack!" Peter squealed out happy laughter that had been hard-won the last few weeks.
"Eeek! Jack! Help!" Jack's small fingers danced over his ribs and he laughed again, taking one hand off Peter to gently tickle the slightly older boy.
"S-Sorry! Ahahahaha! Mom!" She rolled her eyes and joined in.
It turned out that Martha Flag was a single mother raising two boys (one severely crippled) on her own. Jack had superhuman abilities, which was why she was reluctant to let him play with any other children.
"Then Jack saw you and Peter, figured you two were a little less breakable than regular folks."
"Is it inborn?"
"No. I was pushed into a vat of chemicals while pregnant with him." she sighed as Peter and Jack discussed the best Avengers.
"I say Iron Man's the best." Jack declared with all the pride of a nine-year old.
"I don't have a favorite." Peter adored all of them but was ridiculously fond of Thor if he had to pick on the spot. "Not really."
Peter looked at him, wondering if they were close enough yet. Steve shook his head no imperceptibly and Peter sighed, "They're a team. But if you said I could only pick one I'd say Thor."
"Huh. Okay." They went off to other childish topics as Martha took in his guarded stance and the way his wing was positioned around Peter.
"He's a recent adoption then?"
"Yes. But he's ours and Tony's ridiculously fond of him as are all of our friends." That was understatement of the year, Steve told himself wryly.
"Did you have complications because of your wings?"
He caught what she was trying to say and flashed her a soft smile, "No, not a one. Peter's social worker was very insistent he needed a permanent home right away."
"So, does he have a mutation? Jack's not exactly the best with control..."
"Peter's durable enough." he confirmed and her shoulders relaxed just a smidge.
"Did you inherit anything besides the wings?" His lips thinned and she smiled in a knowing manner. "Too soon?"
"A little, I think. They're a bit of a sore subject."
"Ah. My apologies then. How about another play date?"
"Mom..." Jack sighed as he impatiently shoved red, white and blue hair out of his face. "It's not a play date. Pete and I are too old for those. We're just hanging out."
"Hanging out it is then. Here's my number." He typed it into her phone (which was much more simple than his own phone) and fiddled with the touchscreen to get her number into his StarkPhone. "So, Thursday good for you?"
"Yes, actually. That's perfect."
"Bring Drake. It'll do him some good to get fresh air." Steve said even as Peter's eyelids drooped. "It was nice meeting you, Martha." He hefted Peter up onto his hip, sheltering him with a wing as he shook her hand with a smile.
"You too, Steve."
Peter was sound asleep by the time he reached the Tower by flying. Tony smiled at him over what looked to be an engine block as he wiped a smear of grease all over his forehead.
"Pete's had a good outing?"
"He made a friend close to his age today."
"The Flags are just your average American family without a father. No criminal record and the kid? He's got issues with other kids at his school but his Mother can't afford a better one."
"Hey. I can always use another hard worker. Let me see what Pep can do for them-" Steve kissed Tony, savoring the taste of warm, dry lips against his own. "No, you owe Bruce a kiss, not me."
"Since when do we follow the rules?" he asked softly, drawing Bruce into a heated kiss even as he held Peter out of the way.
"Mmm..." Peter groaned rubbing his eyes as he woke up. His stomach gurgled right after he yawned, making Steve laugh into his kiss. "Hungry."
"Sorry Bruce. I need to feed the little spider."
"We went down for a nap of our own so we're good for now."
"Did they eat, JARVIS?"
"Dr. Banner made Sir eat at least two sandwiches and had three himself." That made him grin up at the AI as his geniuses half-heartedly glared at him.
"Traitor! I'll program you into a toaster and then stick that toaster into the closet for good measure."
"Shutting down for updates, sir."
"Ooo, you sneaky little-"
"Tony." Steve absentmindedly admonished as he was making Pete's mac n' cheese on the stove with one hand. "What are you building, by the way?"
"I have no idea." came the response. "I'm working on several other projects and this is one of the unconscious inventions so..."
"Be careful around it. Are sure you haven't built an AI into that?" he counters with familiarity.
"Wait, since when did you know mechanical terms?"
"Since Peter read through about thirty pages of your notes without blinking and started fiddling with that-" here he pointed over to the almost complete robot-dog, "over there. He asked me what an AI was so I asked JARVIS for research material and we learned it together." he replied as the timer went off on the stove. "JARVIS?" The AI canceled the alarm for him as he scooped out a good portion of mac n' cheese before popping the oven open for his onion, carrot and potato casserole; he'd asked Bruce to put it into the oven an hour before they got home. Settling Peter into his chair & pressing a kiss to the brunette hair he placed a piece of the casserole onto the plate as well. Putting it in front of Peter he fixed his kid's grip and grinned as the rest of the Avengers were drawn by the smell of food.
"Most amazing, Friend Steven." Thor said as he served himself as well.
"Have at it. I made enough for everyone." Natasha ninja'd her own portion and ate it on the rafters with Clint (who'd stolen his own after Steve had served Peter). Phil grabbed his own while sorting the rest out into three plates, staring Tony & Bruce down until they caved and ate with the rest of them.
-Two Years Later; Malibu, California-
He watched as Peter & Jack splashed each other on Tony's private beach as he held Rebecca (Rikki to close family and friends). Their daughter was beautiful and he shielded her with his wings as he cooed at her. Steve remembers meeting her surrogate, a woman who threw him for a loop when they first met...
-One Year Earlier-
Steve tapped his fingers on the smooth wood of the little table he'd been seated at by a waiter nearly ten minutes ago. The patrons were discreetly pointing at his wings and laughing. He hiked his wings higher as he traced a design with his fingertip on the tabletop.
"Steve Rogers?" the accent made him look up, his jaw dropping.
"...Peggy?" his voice escaped in his astonishment, roughened beyond his usual tone.
"No. I'm- Oh. My aunt talked about you." She grinned, looking his wings up and down. "She never mentioned wings."
"I hid them. Would you like me to retract them if the staring makes you uncomfortable?" he offered politely.
"No. We'll sit here and enjoy ourselves so that they feel guilty for staring. Now, what are we having for lunch, Rogers?"
"It's on Tony. Umm, you're-"
"Not what you expected of a surrogate? I know and most people don't ask for me."
"You're perfect. It's why I picked you out of the group." he sighed in relief. "Mutant friendly brunette with brown eyes. Tony and I specified since some agencies don't agree with us 'breeding', if you know what I mean."
"I do and I don't agree with them. So, are they going to be you and your partner's inside of an egg or-?"
Steve bit his lip, just about to open his mouth when Bruce saved him, "The latter, Ms. Carter."
"This is your partner?"
"My other partner, Bruce." he answered before tilting his head back for a kiss. "You left me hanging, babe."
"I wanted a little baby with your wings and Tony agrees. Pep has him pinned for a Stark project."
"Yikes. Pepper's been fiercer lately." Bruce snorted and took the other seat at the table, signaling the waiter with a hand gesture.
"That's an understatement, Steve."
"Pepper Potts, CEO of Stark Industries?"
"She's a good friend."
"... You're telling me you, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are in a relationship."
"Mutual in every way." Sharon's eyebrow rose as she realized they weren't joking.
"Well, this gets more and more interesting as it goes." The waiter arrived, took one long look at Steve's wings before smiling, waiting for their order. "I'll have the lamb."
"Ratatouille, I think, for now." Bruce hummed without even glancing at the menu.
"The Bresse chicken." He'd been browsing and didn't realize he'd spoken French until Bruce poked him. The waiter's smile had frozen into a parody of a normally happy expression. "Sorry. I'll take the chicken."
"Very good sir. Anything else?"
"The-Huh. Haven't had that in a while. The Bavarian strawberry wine." he looked at Bruce who smiled; no German then.
"How many languages do you speak?" she managed after the clearly offended waiter had left before bursting into gentle giggles.
"Off-handedly?" Steve thought about it before sighing. "About twelve and that's if I don't have to concentrate. Tony says I have a good memory for languages.
"Really? Do you think your child will get that?"
"I don't know."
"Well, I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship."
Rikki cooed back her tiny wings trying to mimic his own. He crooned softly, holding her close as he stood up to check on Peter since it had gone silent.
"Yeah, Papa?" Steve sighed in relief as he spotted Peter, Tony, Bruce and Sharon all on the picnic blanket.
"It went silent. Never good if you've got children." Martha laughed as she herded Jack along in front of his brother Drake.
"Exactly." he grinned as he shifted Rebecca to soothe her with strokes to her wings with his own feathers. "Shhh, little angel."
"Hey, Steve?" Tony asked quietly as they settled down for the night, Rikki used to sleeping through the night (thankfully taking after his own sleeping pattern).
"Did you think your life would be like this when you woke up?" Bruce finished, Steve entirely used to their thought processes being similar on certain levels.
"No." he found himself surprised by the truth.
"Would you trade it for that dance you missed?" came Tony's second, much more insecure question.
"No, I wouldn't. It may not have gone the way I wanted it to but I have two loving partners, two beautiful children with hopefully more on the way and I don't have to hide anything anymore. Life's full of surprises that way."
Ending A/N: I swear Steve's my favorite! I honestly don't even know where the angst came from; I'm dead serious. Sorry, Steve! I'll give you fluff in the Cadence 'verse, I promise... *pets Steve Muse* What are you all staring at? Go give me feedback. Shoo! *goes back to petting fluffy wings* Seriously, why are you still here? God, don't you people KNOW what you're reading?! Flee!
THIS IS ALSO POSTED UNDER THE AO3 USERNAME Gothams_Only_Wolf AS MY FIRST STORY. I'M NOT PLAGERIZING MY OWN WRITING.