The thing he missed the most about Pepper – okay, that was a lie, he missed almost everything about Pepper – but the thing he was really surprised that he missed was the cuddling. So it shouldn’t have been anything new when he realized that Steve didn’t like to cuddle.
The first of my giftfics has been revealed! :D
“I have a gift for you. Not exactly a gift,” he amended when Barnes’ eyes narrowed a slight fraction. “I’m working on something, and I need someone to test it for me. You happen to have just what I need for that testing. Or, more to the point, don’t have just what I need for the testing. This makes more sense than it seems like it does at the moment.”
Barnes took another swallow of his coffee – black, but with enough sugar to make a teenager flinch – and then spread his hand on the table top. “So, you built something for me that you don’t want to call a gift, because I might not accept it. Obviously it’s a better option to ask the one-armed man to be a guinea pig.”
The prompt is under the cut.
What have I written this year?
As of August 13, 2017:
Responsible Adults and Lab Safety Protocols ½ - (sex pollen, Marvel, Stony)
Chaos and Dancing Stars (A/B/O, Marvel, Stony)
Untitled K/S Sentinel AU (Sentinel, Star Trek AOS, Spirk)
Resonance (Soulmates, Marvel, Stony)
Smell (Werewolf!Tony, Marvel, Stony -ish)
AceCuddles (Cuddling, Marvel, Stony)
Purple Fog (Crossover - MCU/AVAC - Marvel, Stony)
Comedy of Illusions (ID porn, Marvel, Stony) - Cap-IM BigBang
To the Attic and Back Again (Toy Story Fusion, Marvel, Stony) - Cap-IM Big Bang
In response to my Stony Bingo square “soulmates.” Challengers @xxluluelix and @gnomeicecream
While planning/plotting this, it got very big - most likely it will be a fairly short story arc for Bingo, but eventually it will be an epic on AO3. I’m super excited about it! Thanks to @arukou-arukou and @gnomeicecream for helping me figure it out!
Mind the cut!
The sense of wrong hit Steve before he even opened his eyes, but he wasn’t sure why. He breathed slowly and tried to work it out, but there were a lot of things that were immediately – though subtly – off. He was in a hospital bed. Easy enough to recognize from all the time he’d spent there as a kid, but the bed was long enough for him to be stretched out completely flat. He hadn’t been able to lay flat in a bed since before the serum.
At the sound of traffic and honking horns, he turned his head to look out the window. The familiar press of New York buildings was just outside, but something about the view looked wrong. The air through the open window smelled weird. A radio was playing softly on the sideboard, and even that sounded strange. Too clear, and too familiar. He put it down to déjà vu as he sat up and looked around. He was wearing an SSR t-shirt that stretched too tight across his chest. Even the material felt strange.
The last thing he remembered was nosing The Valkyrie down into the water.
The door opened and a woman stepped into the room. Just like the rest of the surroundings, she was subtly off. He watched her carefully as she smiled and crossed from the door, her faint resonance tone growing louder as she neared. She had a tone like no one he’d ever known. Something about it reminded him of Tesla coils and Howard’s strange devices. Her tone clashed so hard with his that it was actively repulsive. He found himself leaning away from her, and her smile faltered.
She started to speak, but Steve’s pulse abruptly rose to overwhelm everything except the sound of their dissonant tones clashing – that was what had been wrong all this time. It wasn’t what was there, it was what wasn’t. His head was empty. There was no note of Bucky’s steady thrum, or Peggy’s heavy pulsing beat, none of the Commandos’ cacophony of tones. His bonds were all achingly, terrifyingly quiet.
Steve stood up abruptly. The girl jumped. “Who are you?” Steve demanded. He heard it when her tone overlaid with a fast shriek of fright, but her uneasiness just made him positive that something fishy was going on. “Where am I?”
“C-Captain Rogers…” she said, taking a step back from him even as she tried to smile comfortingly. “Please calm down.”
The radio broadcast caught his attention again, and he realized that it wasn’t just déjà vu. The broadcast was familiar because he’d been at that game. Ignoring the girl and her stammering platitudes, he examined the room again – everything was fake, every bit of it staged. Over the thunder of his pulse and the aching absence of his soulbonds, he could hear other noises beyond the walls. They had the echoing quality of being in a very large space with very high ceilings. The walls were obviously thin – he could see where they’d been joined together like the plywood panels of a stage set.
Backing away from the woman – whoever she was, Nazi infiltrator or spy – Steve ran at one of the walls between the seams where the panels had been joined. He broke through it like tearing through paper, startling dozens of people on the other side. He was barefoot, but it didn’t matter. Steve ran, baffled by the facility. It looked like nothing he’d ever seen, not in New York, not in Europe, not on the Hydra bases. He ended up on the street of some kind of bustling metropolis with strange cars whizzing by. People jumped out of his way as he plowed through the crowds. Everything was so loud. The usual background hum of resonate tones in crowded spaces was overwhelming. Everywhere he turned, dozens of unfamiliar tones shrieked at him, all of them clashing again his own. He felt dizzy and sick to his stomach. After the initial escape from the facility, he wasn’t even running from anyone – he was running from everyone.
For my Stony BINGO square “Smell.” Challenge was issued by @arukou-arukou
This is a continuation of this werewolf!Tony story I wrote last year. Mind the cut my mobile friends.
Steve moved into the shadow of the archway carefully and peered through the darkness. It was a crumbling ruin of an old castle surrounded by a mostly-standing wall and a wide stretch of overgrown lawn. He crouched down, balancing on the balls of his feet. 10,000 feet above him, Tony hovered in the clouds, keeping a careful distance from the castle. The odds that the castle was the one they were looking for was slim, but Steve didn’t want to take any chances with Tony’s tech.
He didn’t need to, but Steve still put a hand to his ear to shield the comm unit from the bitter wind. “You seeing anything from up there?”
“I’m not getting any strange readings,” Tony said after several seconds of nothing but wind. “But then again, I didn’t get any last time either. Nothing on infrared. Think we’re looking at another bust, Cap.”
Steve sighed and let his weight settle down between his heels. They’d gone through 30 abandoned castles and had gotten nothing for their trouble but some photographs. Rhodey and Nat were checking another ruin 50 miles south, and Clint and Thor were in Wales somewhere. The people who’d kidnapped him and Tony the year before had gone to ground hard, and even all of Tony and Nat’s concerted efforts hadn’t pulled them out yet.
“Well, at least I get to practice my photography some more,” Steve decided. “When we do start considering non-castle related options?”
“After we’ve exhausted all the castles,” Tony said, but he sounded just as weary of castle duty as Steve. Jarvis had analyzed the video that Rhodey had tracked down during his search the year before. From faint background details and sounds on the audio that even Steve hadn’t been able to hear, Jarvis had determined that there was an overwhelming likelihood that the Lunar Scientific Solutions Group was operating out of a castle ruin for their less-legal research. The chances of them still being in that castle were slim to none, but they had to hunt down every lead. More and more wolf shifters were disappearing every month. It was just starting to make the rounds through the media.
“Go ahead and land,” Steve said. The corners of his lips twitched upward. “We can camp out here tonight, if you want.”
“You know, Rogers, you’re not funny.”
Laughing, Steve shifted his weight so he could pull his shield off his back. He leaned back against the wall to take advantage of the scarce protection it offered. Once Tony was on the ground, they would clear through the castle on foot. The first approach they’d made on LSS’s legitimate business front had been met with a powerful EMP blast that had left Tony and Rhodey both virtually helpless in the street. He listened carefully for the distinctive whine of Tony’s repulsors and twisted to look up at him as soon as he’d caught the sound.
Against the dark sky, Tony was only visible because he was in motion. To anyone who wasn’t looking for him, he might have passed for a bird or a distant jet. Steve covered his face with one hand, feeling his cheeks heat up – no, he thought with an internal groan of embarrassment, it’s Iron Man!
Tony swung around the castle compound, making a leisurely loop over the grounds. He briefly disappeared behind the half-crumbled remains of the castle tower, and then emerged on the other side, bathed in moonlight. Steve admired him as he made a turn that looked easy. Considering the forces Tony was dealing with, it had to be exceptionally difficult, but Tony managed to look like he was breezing through most things.
Pressing his shoulders back against the wall, Steve shoved his weight back up to the balls of his feet and then rolled forward to stand. Tony curved away from the perimeter as he made the final turn to meet Steve at the archway, and Steve left the relative safety of the shadows to join him in the field.
A searing flash of light exploded from the ground. Steve flung his shield up, ducking down behind it automatically with an afterimage of Iron Man burned onto the backs of his eyelids. He’d barely registered the light before a concussive fwoom! made the ground under his feet ripple like water. He leapt blindly, but his supporting foot went out from under him, and the horrible vertigo rush of falling reached out to grab him.
Chaos and Dancing Stars 2/?
ABO AU - find part one here. Mind the cut.
Five years ago
It was an easy thing to hijack SHIELD’s communication systems. Tony was listening into the transmissions within ten minutes of Agent Coulson dropping a steaming pile of crap in his lap and walking out the door with his PA. He almost crashed their party when he learned that Dr. Banner was on board, but decided that he could scoop Banner up later when they didn’t have nosy SHIELD agents crawling all over. He almost sent them a virus as a welcoming present when he learned that a defrosted Captain America was on board, but Jarvis had distracted him with another of Dr. Foster’s YouTube secretly-recorded-by-me-Darcy-because-someone-else-should-hear-this-and-Dr.-Foster-is-social-network-illiterate-seriously-she-doesn’t-even-know-she’s-internet-famous lectures.
“Sir, I’ve located the target leaving a café in Stuttgart, Germany,” Jarvis reported, pausing the lecture. Tony flicked his fingers to put the video in the background and keyed up the program. Dressed in gloriously well-tailored pants, and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up above his elbows and the first two buttons undone at the throat, Loki looked like a traveling businessman on a break from high-powered meetings. Everywhere except the face – he was sallow and sunken-cheeked. He looked ill and more than a little bit crazy.
“Has SHIELD come across this yet?” Tony asked.
Jarvis was better and faster than anything SHIELD could get their collective thieving hands on, so Tony wasn’t surprised when Jarvis answered, “No, sir.”
“Not a team player,” Tony muttered as he brought up a new screen and neatly hacked into the satellites over Stuttgart. He could have just called Fury directly, or Agent “Phil” how-is-your-girlfriend-the-cellist Coulson, but that would actually require talking to one of them and he didn’t really feel like wasting the time. It was so much faster to just direct the outdated facial recognition software to Loki’s location. He was strolling down the street with a paper cup in one hand, a newspaper under his arm (seriously, was he trying to stick out?), and a tall, sandy haired man on his left. “See? I’m a team player.”
“Of course, sir,” Jarvis agreed wearily. “Shall I prepare the suit?”
“You know me too well, dear. Queue me up some tunes while you’re at it.”
“Anything in particular?”
Tony tugged his tank off and dropped it in the appropriate section of his laundry hamper. “Something with a beat,” he decided. “Something loud.”
Star Trek K/S Sentinel AU 1/?
With no title, of course.
Planet Vulcan, Stardate 2238.57
Spock understood that his mother was not Vulcan, and could not be held accountable for her obvious sadness when he came home from school to find her sitting at the table with her hands pressed to her face. He was a child and therefore did not have perfect control of his emotions either, though no less so than his classmates, of that he was positive. He had cried when the shatarr he’d tried to make into a pet had died, so the posture was not unfamiliar to him.
His mother did not look up as he approached, so Spock was left hovering at the table uncertainly. He reached out hesitantly to put a hand on hers. She had removed her gloves at some point, and her skin was soft and pinkish-pale under his fingertips. He felt the sucking depths of her sadness at once, felt it under his own breastbone as though it were his own sadness.
Spock’s breath caught in a sniffle, and then he was crying as well, fat, hot tears streaking down his face. Full-blooded Vulcans did not cry – it was an inefficient waste of resources on a desert world – but Spock was not, as his classmates were so fond of reminding him, a full-blooded Vulcan.
Uncurling from her slumped posture, his mother wrapped him up in her arms and pulled him forward so she could rest her cheek on the top of his head. The embrace was not appropriate, even among close family, and the heat of their bodies quickly made it stiflingly uncomfortable, but she held onto him with the desperate strength born by her grief. Spock sobbed against her chest, and she into his hair, though he still didn’t understand why they were crying.
A rustle of movement drew them apart. Spock looked up to see his father standing in the doorway, tall and severe as ever, his face – of course – emotionless as he surveyed the scene before him. Spock’s mother sat back and let go of Spock’s shoulders. She took a moment to drag her thumbs over Spock’s cheeks, wiping away the hot rivers of saline still leaking freely from his eyes. Brushing her hands off on her robes where they fell over her knees, she repeated the gesture on herself, and then patted gently at her cheeks. She set a hand back on Spock’s shoulder, her thumb resting just above the collar of his school uniform, as though she sought to feel his pulse.
“Husband,” she greeted.
Spock felt a pang of embarrassment rippling through his mother’s grief, though she did not apologize or voice her discomfort at Sarek’s arrival. It was plain to Spock that she had meant to take her grief somewhere private, but had ‘lost track’ of the passage of time. Spock took his gaze away from her swollen eyes and looked up to his father.
“Wife,” Sarek said after a moment. He transferred his dark eyes to Spock, though he did not immediately express his disappointment over Spock’s unwarranted display of emotion. Instead, he looked back to Spock’s mother and observed, “You are… upset.”
The word had no direct translation in modern Vulcan. The closest would be that she was emotionally compromised, but that was not sufficient to express the depth of her grief. Spock approved of his father’s use of the Common vocabulary in this instance.
Spock’s mother took her left hand away from his shoulder and curled it together with her right, setting them both in her lap. Her back straightened. “My mother has died,” she explained, though her words were partially obscured by a hitch in her breath, and she started to cry again. These tears were quiet, slow and thin as they trailed over her cheeks and disappeared under the curve of her jaw.
After a long moment, Sarek crossed to the table and held out his hand, first two fingers extended. “I grieve with thee,” he said solemnly, and then surprised Spock by placing his other hand on his shoulder. It was a gesture of comfort that had not been offered to him since he began primary school.
Far more surprising and unsettling than his mother’s sadness was the sudden swelling of his father’s grief. He did not make a sound, and certainly he spared no moisture in the expression of his grief, but it was just as deep, and far darker – crushing, hot like the sand of the Fire Plains of Raal. It took Spock’s breath away. Even as his mother reached out to run her two fingers over Sarek’s, Spock unthinkingly reached up to cover his father’s hand with his own. He couldn’t understand what he was doing, but he wanted to cool that hot flash of grief.
Sarek jerked his hand away sharply, head tilted to look down at Spock. “What were you doing?”
“You are sad,” Spock answered, simply. “I meant only to assist.”
“Peculiar,” Sarek said. He transferred his attention back to his wife and said, “I will arrange transport back to Earth so that you may pay your respects in the human custom.”
He left without waiting for Spock’s mother’s agreement, his hand held stiffly at his side. Spock knew that there would be a discussion later on Spock’s apparent transgression, though he could not understand what he had done wrong. It was the Vulcan way to strictly control emotion. It was also the Vulcan way to accept aid where it was necessary and warranted. To deny the need for assistance was illogical and a matter only of pride, which – Spock had been assured – Vulcan’s did not cultivate.
“Thank you, Spock,” his mother said into the ensuing silence. “I know embraces are not logical, but your mother really needed the hug.”
Spock tipped his head. “You are human. Humans require physical contact to maintain a state of psychological and emotional balance, is that not so, Mother?” This was the reason his father had given him when explaining why he engaged in significantly more physical contact with Spock’s mother than a Vulcan normally would, even in the confines of the private home.
His mother smiled at him. “It is so, Spock.”
“If that is so, expressing gratitude over the fulfillment of a necessary biological function is not logical,” he pointed out.
(mind the cut)
Purple Fog 3/?
Tony meets bb Tony!
As usual, mind the cut my mobile friends!
Tony could hear the two AIs communicating as a faint series of beeps and a low buzz. They could communicate silently if they wanted, but he thought they did it for their respective humans’ benefit, so it didn’t seem like they were talking behind Tony and Rhodey’s backs. Tony clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth and examined Bolo’s read-out. The armor wasn’t identical to his, or any of his – the jaw section of the helmet was given the illusion of being too narrow by a wider circumference around the forehead, and the panels weren’t precisely the same colors in the same places, but it was unmistakably Iron Man. He watched as the distant Iron Man flew straight up in the air and disappeared into the clouds.
“That’s interesting,” Tony said finally. He could sense the slight tension over the comms as the rest of the team waited to be filled in on what was interesting. “There is a Stark Tower on the campus with what looks an awful lot like… well, me, flying above it.”
“That’s not all,” Scott broke in before anyone else could respond. “I just saw someone who looks a lot like a younger me chatting with someone who looks a lot like a younger Black Widow.”
“And I’ve got eyes on a Captain America and Falcon playing pool. Well… Falcon is playing pool, and Cap is watching,” Hope added. “There is also a Spiderman, and either a kin wearing a Spiderman costume over a pig mask, or a pig in a Spiderman costume.”
“What the hell is going on here?” Steve asked, bewildered and sounding both angry and annoyed. Tony could relate.
“I don’t know,” Hope answered, “But what I’m not seeing is anything that looks at all like an invasion force, unless you count the penguins. There are a lot of them wandering around the campus.”
“Yeah, one almost ate me,” Scott put in.
“You shouldn’t have been flying so close to its face,” Hope said.
“I wanted to see if it was real! It was holding a giant gun in its flippers!”
An alert flared in Tony’s ear, knocking him out of Rhodey’s display and back into his own. His proximity alarms were going crazy as the tree above him started to shake. He fired jets and repulsors, flinging himself backwards as a shape solidified above him and dropped out of the branches with a loud crash. Iron Man hit the forest floor in a hollow boom, dead leaves and dark loam flying up around him.
“I’ve been spotted!” he called out. He touched down lightly and then shot sideways. The other Iron Man followed him into the trees. “Get back from the tree line!” he ordered. With the comms open, he could already hear running footsteps through the trees. He tossed a repulsor blast behind him, but there was no returning shot as he wove around a pair of tree trunks and into the air. Iron Man chased after him, even more nimble in the suit than Tony.
“He doesn’t have as much firepower as we do,” Tadashi said, “but I think he’s faster.”
Tony broke left and fired all of his retro thrusters so hard that he lost several meters of altitude in the process. His stomach dropped, and he felt a moment’s vertigo, but Iron Man shot over his head, leaving his back exposed as Tony regained his altitude and then some. He ended up above Iron Man with his shoulder rockets out and aimed.
Iron Man flipped over so he was flying on his back. It was an impressive maneuver that Tony only attempted when he was flying for fun, or dire necessity. In that position, Iron Man had to keep both of his arms angled down and backward to stabilize himself, and Tony knew from experience that it was hell on the abdominal muscles, even he locked the hip and shoulder joints and rested into the backplate.
“I’ve never met another me before,” Iron Man called over the wind as they flew together, their speed and courses matched to nearly rest-relative. “We’ve had duplicates before – we’re lousy with Spidermans and Spiderwomans, but you’re the first alternate Iron Man. Are you me in there, or in your universe are you like… Steve Rogers?”
Getting over the shock of it, Tony said, “I guess whether or not I’m you depends on whether or not you’re me.”
Iron Man laughed. “Alright, that’s true. Want to take this to the ground? I’ve got some pretty fantastic abs, but this is killin’ me!”
Tony looked past Iron Man’s shoulder to see that they’d left the trees behind and were flying over the campus. In a large square bordered by benches on one side and what looked like an announcement board in the adjacent corner were dozens of upturned faces. Tadashi helpfully ran recognition and pointed out people they “knew:” Steve, looking ludicrously young and dressed in a tight t-shirt with his silver star on the breast and a pair of cargo pants; Spiderman, flanked by the pig-shaped Spiderman Hope had seen and a young woman in a white hoodie; Natasha in a red bodycon suit with a black motorcycle jacket and red glasses; Sam in his Falcon gear; Rhodey as a young man in a gray digital camouflage and a shoulder rig; Vision in a long yellow coat, and the Hulk looming at one side of the square with his massive arms crossed over his equally massive chest. There were dozens more that Tony couldn’t identify, including what looked like a raccoon in a leather vest with a gun.
“Doesn’t seem like I have much choice,” Tony said finally. He pulled the shoulder rockets back into their housing and rolled right, letting Iron Man turn over. Switching back to the internal comm line, he said, “Get back to the rendezvous and stay out of sight. I’m going to land and see what’s going on here.”
“Iron Man… Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Steve asked tightly.
“I don’t have a lot of choice at the moment, but I don’t think they realize you’re here yet. Just get clear, stay under cover, and wait for my word.” Tony pulled up in a hover, watching Iron Man do the same. Keeping pace with his counterpart, Tony lowered himself to the ground. Underneath them, the crowd of bodies parted to leave them a clear landing zone.
“We’ve got your six, Iron Man,” Scott whispered. “Well, I’ve got your six. Hope has your… Eleven-thirty?”
Tony felt his right eye twitch. “Thanks.”
As soon as they were on solid ground, Iron Man reached up and tapped the side of his neck. The faceplate opened and the helmet peeled back, revealing a face Tony hadn’t seen in decades – himself, maybe nineteen or twenty years old, before the world had etched care and trauma into the corners of his eyes. Tony was so stunned by it that he could only stare, his breath coming in shaky waves that echoed hard inside the helmet.
“Boss? Based on facial recognition –”
“It’s me,” Tony broke in. “That’s me.”
“So,” Tony’s younger self asked, “Are you here to start a fight? If you are, you need to register with Hill – she’s in charge of organizing those things. I can take you to the admin building if you want. Did you bring minions? Please tell me it’s robots! I can make robots to fight your robots. Steve is gonna be so mad,” he continued excitedly, pumping his fist into the air.
Tony held up a hand before the manic gleam in the younger man’s eyes got past the point of idea to activity – Tony remembered that feeling very well, the swelling excitement, the way his legs used to tingle with the need to move and get things accomplished, when he’d felt so flooded with energy and anticipation that it felt like he was going to explode. Tony hesitated, but then reached up and retracted his own helmet.
“Oh,” the young Tony said disappointedly, “You’re old.” He squinted his eyes. “You better not be Howard.”
Tony saw a rustle of movement behind the young Iron Man and Rhodey stepped up to his side. The sight of him made Tony’s breath catch – this was the James Rhodes that he’d been more than half in love with as a boy, the James Rhodes who had befriended him at MIT and spoke up for him quietly among the other students, but never stepped in front of Tony when he was confronted directly. The James Rhodes that had calmed the wild anger in Tony’s chest and helped him move past the pain and disappointment of Howard’s abuse and his mother’s neglect. He’d held Tony’s hand at his parents’ funeral, and nursed him through dozens of hangovers. This young face, too, had not yet felt the crushing weight of wars, wasn’t terrorized by nightmares, or disenchanted by politics.
“I’m not Howard,” Tony breathed. His throat was tight and he could feel the prickling burn of tears at the corner of his eyes. “I’m.” He cleared his throat and pushed aside the flood of memories from the happy years at MIT. “My name is Tony Stark. I’m not sure what’s going on here, but I’m not here to fight you. No robots necessary.”
Young Tony looked so immediately despondent that Tony almost apologized, but the young Rhodey put an arm around his shoulders. “Why don’t we go supe up the roombas so they can chase after the penguins?”
Iron Man perked up and twisted to look into the crowd. He grinned at Sam standing stoically at the young Steve’s side, and then said, “I think I have a better idea.”
“My God,” Tony said, finally really looking around the gathered crowd. “You’re all so young.”
None of them looked like they could be older than twenty-five, and most looked significantly younger. He flicked his wrists to roll his gauntlets back and rubbed at his face, pushing his thumbs into his temples to feel the pressure of it. He couldn’t figure out what was happening, or how these kids could have been responsible for the fog surrounding New York. He couldn’t even figure out how these could possible exist.
After several moments of quiet, a rustle of chatter went through the crowd. They parted slowly, and Nick Fury walked through the opening with his hands clasped behind his back. Behind him, a tall, willowy man with blond hair and a goatee, a woman in a black and green leather outfit that screamed Dominatrix, and a Viking who stood head, shoulders, and most of his chest over Nick’s head. He didn’t recognize the other three – though he had a sinking suspicion about the Viking – but even Nick look young. Older, perhaps, than the kids around them, but young. Maybe middle thirties.
“Welcome to Avengers Academy, Iron Man,” Nick greeted, and he had an actual smile on his face. Tony hadn’t seen Nick Fury smile since he’d been a boy, maybe not since before Howard and Mom’s funeral.
“Nick,” Tony greeted cautiously. “What exactly is Avengers Academy?”
“Training grounds for heroes,” Nick provided readily. He made a broad gesture with one hand, inviting Tony to look around them. More buildings, very few of them following the same style. He could see the golden tower to one side, a cylinder of a building beyond that, the lab Steve had mentioned with a sparking set of Tesla coils on top, behind Tony was a stadium, and just barely visible beyond that was what looked like a Gladiatorial arena.
Tony eyed the surrounding kids, Nick Fury looking half his age, the Hulk standing more-or-less tamely among a crowd of people, even Vision, somehow looking like a teenager. He locked eyes with Nick. Their relationship had soured after Tony’s parents’ death, but Nick had once been “Uncle Nick” to him, had been a friend to Jarvis and Peggy, had been at Tony’s birthdays and the Thanksgiving table.
“Are you responsible?” Tony asked, gesturing behind him to the wall of fog visible over the tree tops. “Have you done this?”
Purple Fog 2/?
Part two of my MCU/AVAC crossover - you can find part one here.
Mind the cut!
It was like moving through marshmallows on a glass floor. Tony kept a monitor on the air quality as he pushed through the center of the channel where the fog was the thinnest, and regretted not insisting that everyone wore oxygen masks. The air was thick with water and light on oxygen, but Tony had picked the shortest path based on all the drones that had gone through. He could hear Peter’s heavy breathing close to his helmet – struggling, but not panicked. It was difficult to maintain a steady pace when he wanted to rush them through the fog as quickly as he could run, but it would be more dangerous to move too quickly to adjust for the slight movements of the tunnel.
Tony broke through the fog so abruptly that he stumbled. The ground under his feet turned from smooth as glass to the dirt floor of the strange forest they’d seen through the drone transmissions. Natasha bumped into his side with a soft oath and immediately doubled over coughing. Without being told, Peter sprang off Tony’s back and tugged on the webbing between Natasha and Hope, pulling her through the last few feet. With a twist of his fingers, Peter started snapping webbing.
Grabbing Natasha under her arms, Tony pulled her away from the fog and leaned her against a tree trunk. As soon as he was sure she would stay upright, he helped Hope over to the same place, and then hurried over to help Peter pull the rest of their people through the fog. Scott came through with Sam half leaning over his shoulders, and Steve stumbling blindly afterward. All three of them went down when Scott stumbled, landing in a pile of flailing limbs and coughs. Steve landed half in the fog and rolled away from the portal. Tony got his hands around Steve’s knees and twisted him out of the fog before they got a chance to figure out where matter went once it passed into the bank.
Tony flipped up his faceplate. “Everyone alright?”
The coughing had mostly subsided, and they were already starting to get back to their feet. Tony got a shoulder under Sam’s arm to help get upright, and tapped him on chest once he was sure Sam was steady on his feet.
“Man, I’d love to not have to do that again,” Sam said, bumping a fist on his chest. He pulled his goggles off so he could rub at his eyes.
Next to him, Scott opened his helmet and looked around at the others. “Well, that was fun,” he said with a broad smile. Hope threw a rock that hit him between the shoulder blades. He ducked too late, covering the back of his head and looking at her under his arm. “What was that for?”
Climbing back to her feet, Hope tossed another piece of gravel at him and stretched backwards with one hand pressed to her stomach. She turned a slow circle, and said, “Freaky.”
Assured that everyone was going to survive the trek through the fog, Tony followed her gaze to the trees around them. They were spindly things with smooth dark bark, and bright puffs of yellow foliage on the end of the branches. Tony snapped the faceplate closed and examined them again. He didn’t have a connection to Friday anymore, but he’d loaded Tadashi into the suit before leaving.
“Heya, Tony,” Tadashi greeted, coming online. “Where the heck are we?”
“No idea, buddy. You tell me.”
There was a moment of silence and then Tadashi said, “GPS is nonfunctional. I think you made a mistake installing me, big guy. These trees are weirdly similar.” Several of the nearby trees were outlined in blue, and then rotated and stacked on top of each other. They matched almost branch-for-branch. “Strange pruning. Are we sure these are real trees and not just set pieces?”
Tony stepped up to one of the alien things and flicked his wrist to peel the gauntlet back. He put his bare hand on the trunk. It felt real, solid and slightly cool to the touch. He used one repulsor to gently slough away the bark and drill into the body of the tree. Nearly opaque greenish-yellow sap leaked out.
“Looks real,” he decided, and brushed his fingers over the tree in a silent apology. The wind rattled through the branches as though it were protesting the damage. Tony stepped away quickly just in case it actually was trying to decide on whether or not to go Whomping Willow on him. “Everyone keep an eye out for local wildlife,” he said, scanning through the trees himself.
for the stony bingo, i challenge you to the crossover square! maybe with avac as one of the verses?
Very exceptionally late, so I do hope you see this, Anon! Here’s part one, just shy of 5800 words so watch for the cut!
Purple Fog 1/?
A strange purple fog rolled in to surround the city lastnight, cutting off Staten Island and Rockaway Park, as well as parts of Queensand Manhattan. All communications beyond the fog have been cut off, thoughservices in unaffected areas seem stable for the time being. Citizens are urgedto stay home wherever possible and to not attempt to leave the city, as therehas been no determination of how safe it is to cross the fog. All flights havebeen grounded, train, subway, and ferry travel has been suspended, andbarricades have been erected at the bridges to prevent crossing. For themoment, the fog’s position seems stable, and we will be bringing you updates asthey are available.
“Is this true?” Steve asked, holding his tablet upwith the news video frozen on the screen. It was barely five in the morning,but it looked like Tony had been up for hours. Judging by the shirt Steve waspretty sure he’d been wearing the night before, he might not have even gone tosleep in the first place. “The communications, I mean. Have you been able toget anything in or out?” he clarified when Tony just gave him a blank look.
Tony set his stylus down and leaned back in hischair, rubbing a hand tiredly across his face. “While I’m flattered that youthink so highly of my abilities, it’s true. Vision and Wanda were outside ofthe city when the fog rolled in, and I haven’t been able to raise them. I also haven’tbeen able to get through by satellite, HAM radio, or tin cans with strings.” Hescratched at his chin, tension radiating from his body, and then threw himselfaway from his desk and gestured roughly at the multiple tablets, laptops, andthe projection above the surface.
Steve set his own tablet down with the others andbraced his hands on the desk to look everything over. He was in his runningclothes, but he hadn’t made it out the door before Friday had alerted him tothe news. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” he asked, twisting to look at Tony overhis shoulder.
“I didn’t have anything to tell you, and there wasnothing you could do.” Tony stepped up next to him, tapping his fingers on thedesk. “It looked like you needed the sleep.”
Steve looked up at him sharply, but there was nojudgment in Tony’s voice. Between the hunt for Bucky and tracking down androoting out Hydra, none of them had gotten a lot of sleep lately. Steve’s sleephad been terrorized by nightmares, and even the serum couldn’t quite keep upwith his insomnia. Apparently he hadn’t been hiding it as well as he’d thought.He straightened up, and made a wide gesture to the table and all theelectronics scattered across the surface.
“What have you been able to figure out?”
“I’ve sent a dozen drones into the fog. They’ve allcontinued to transmit for a few minutes before the signal is lost, but theyhaven’t transmitted anything useful. Mostly just fog. I sent one of the suitsdirectly up above the city, but the fog just goes up, and up, and… up.” Hepointed his finger toward the ceiling, and then shrugged and let his hand falldown to his side. “I couldn’t get around it, or over it, or through it.”
Rubbing the place between his eyebrows, Steve said,“I guess we’re not going to Lagos.”
Tony waved one hand. “Once they realize they can’t contact us, if theyhaven’t already, Vision and Wanda will make sure the Nigerian authorities knowthat you won’t be there to back them up. They’ll do whatever they would havedone if there wasn’t a team of superheroes running around.”
Closing his eyes, Steve turned his head marginally awayfrom Tony, and emptied his lungs with a soft noise. Tony went still next to him,and then made a similar noise of frustration. He stepped away from the table,running his hand through his already messy, greasy hair again.
“You didn’t tell the Nigerian authorities?” heguessed. “Did you contact the US embassy in Nigeria, or the State Department? Does anyone other than usknow you were planning an action in Lagos today?”
“We cleared our flight plan,” Steve offered, knowingit was a measly defense. “Tony, there wasn’t time. We just got this informationthe day before yesterday, and if we’d involved the politicians –”
Tony cut his hand roughly through the air, breathcoming out as a disbelieving laugh. “Steve! You can’t just.” He stopped,planted his fist on his hip, and then muscled into Steve’s personal space toforce him to look up.
Steve tried not to look belligerent orconfrontational as he straightened up and turned so they were face to face, butit was difficult when he knew he was in the wrong, for as much as he was in thewrong for the right reasons. It was no different than when he’d taken off afterthe 107th, knowing that he was going against orders, but just assure that it was the right thing to do. Tony let him decide how he was going toarrange his body, and Steve forced himself to relax his hands down by his sidesand keep his chin down, but he couldn’t stop his teeth from clenching.
“Steve, we can’t keep doing this,” Tony insistedsoftly. He had his head angled slightly downward so he was looking up at Stevethrough his lashes. Steve had always been weak for his eyes, and he half surethat Tony knew it. “We can’t keep just stomping around the world like we ownit. Whatever stores of goodwill we had built up from New York have run dry. Wecan’t trade on our name anymore, Steve, we have to play by the rules.”
Taking a sharp step backwards, Steve said, “You?You’re the one telling me to play bythe rules and not go stomping around the world like you own it? The man who‘privatized world peace’ and mouthed off to a congressional hearing about it?”
Tony’s hands came up and his lips pursed into atight line, but his eyes widened rather than narrowing. “And where did that getme?” he demanded harshly, and then visibly forced himself to calm down. “Ithink we all know the answer to that. Neither of us is a lone wolf anymore,Steve, we’ve got people who depend on us in a very real way. When it was justone eccentric billionaire in a flying suit doing most of the damage to ‘the badguys’ and getting good results? That was one thing – I’m not saying that how Ihandled those first years was right or wrong, and to be honest, I probablywould do all the same damn things if I had the opportunity to go back. But nowwe’re a team, and some of us haveabilities that scare the living daylights out of the rest of the population,and all of us have caused collateral damage to property and lives on the wrongside of the line. Someday soon, someone is going to wonder if the damage wecause doesn’t exceed the damage we do, and Steve, I promise you that it willnot work out well for us.”
“I’m not just going to sit back and do nothing whileHydra is still out there,” Steve said. His hands clenched slowly into fists byhis side and he tried to remind himself that he and Tony were a team. They wereeven friends most of the time.
“You mean you’re not just going to sit back while Bucky is still out there,” Tonycorrected.
“I have never put Bucky ahead of a mission to rootout Hydra,” Steve said through his teeth. “I don’t think you have much room totalk about collateral damage, or not looping in the proper authorities.” Assoon as the words were out of his mouth, he regret them, but couldn’t pull themback.
Tony jolted. His teeth clenched twice, making his templepulse in time with the movement of his jaw. “Don’t you think that Sokovia is areason why we should be having this conversation, and not a reason why youshould be running around like the law doesn’t touch you?”
“I’m sorry, Tony. I shouldn’t have said that,” Stevesaid through a breath. He’d admitted a long time ago that Ultron wasn’t solelyTony’s fault, and they’d talked it to death. Steve was the one who’d pushed thehardest for not running off to do solo work anymore, that everyone on the teamneeded to know what everyone else was planning so they didn’t have anotherSokovia. The team had known what hewas planning, he just hadn’t thought it was necessary to tell any of thepoliticians, who take a month just deciding what color pen they wanted on thepaperwork. Most of the time, they were in and out before anyone even realizedthat they’d been in the country.
“The bureaucracy is a pain in the ass,” Tonyfinished for him with a nod of understanding. His stomach expanded in a rush ashe drew in a deep breath. He let it out, seeming to shrink at the same time.Steve kept his hands at his side instead of reaching out to grip Tony’sshoulder. If anyone looked like they needed sleep, it was him. Before he coulddecide whether or not to send Tony off to bed, Tony reached up to grab the backof his neck with both hands and squeezed. “It’s a moot point now. HopefullyWanda and Vision will realize that they need to tell someone about thebioweapon, and we’ll get back to this conversation after we figure out whatthis fog is and how to get rid of it. Truce for now?”
Steve took his extended his hand and squeezed itfirmly. “One crisis at a time,” he agreed.
A beep from the desk interrupted whatever Tony wouldhave said in reply. He let go of Steve’s hand and turned to the desk, sortingthrough the various tablets and laptops until he found the one that wasbeeping. He frowned as his dexterous fingers worked at the display, zooming inseveral times. He hummed, and his lower lip disappeared between his teeth.Steve wanted to know what he’d found, but he also didn’t want to interrupt him.As much as they fought, as much history as they had between them, Stevecouldn’t shake how cute Tony was when he was deep in thought.
“There are eddies…” Tony muttered
Steve waited a moment to see if he was going tocontinue, and then prompted, “Yes?”
Tony twitched as if he’d forgotten he wasn’t alone.“There are eddies,” he repeated. “In the fog. I have a few dozen drones outscanning the fog from this side. Friday, is Rhodey up from his nap?”
“Indeed, sir,” Friday answered readily. “I’ve takenthe liberty of sending him the information and he says that he’ll be up in afew minutes.”
“Why are these eddies important?” Steve asked,moving so he could look over Tony’s shoulder. The screen showed a map of thecity with the fog outlined in red, and everything outside of it shaded purple.Several blue blips flashed serenely on screen at seemingly random points aroundthe city. “Wouldn’t it be normal for air currents to cause eddies in a fogbank?”
“First, your premise is wrong from the start,because this isn’t a normal fog. Ergo, there is no ‘normal’ at all. We can’texpect it to behave in any way based on how suspended water vapor would,” Tonysaid distractedly. He made a flicking motion with the tablet and the mapappeared on the projected screen. “Second, even if it were just a normal fog,the eddies would move with the air currents. These seem to be staying in thesame place.”
“And that’s weird,” Steve said.
Tony glanced up from the tablet he was clicking awayon. “That’s weird,” he confirmed.
As Steve watched, another blue blip popped up, andthen a second. The longer he watched the map, the more frustrated he became. Hechecked his watch – he should have been getting on the quinjet in another fiveminutes, fresh back from his morning run with just enough time to get into theshower. Now, because of some kind of God-only-knows-what kind of supernaturalmist, Hydra might be able to get away with a bioweapon, Wanda was stuck out ofthe city with only Vision to keep an eye on her, and they had no idea where thethreat was even coming from. Honestly, they had no idea if it even was a threat, though Steve couldn’tthink of any benign reason to cut the city off from the rest of the country.
An interdimensional portal opens over New York and drops a tentacled alien in the middle of Central Park. The Avengers are called out to investigate, and hopefully return the visitor home. Steve has been brushing up on his diplomacy, but he never expected to be a liaison to an alien in such an intimate capacity, or that the alien would be so friendly. The unusual visit turns into the world’s best team-building exercise.
What have I written this year?
As of March 11, 2017
Sensitivity (A H/C giftfic for Flange5): Steve wakes up from a nightmare suffering from hypersensitivity
A giftfic for Musicalluna: Tony patching Steve up while they chat and are domestic and sappy.
Painting Meatballs – giftfic for Copperbadge – Clint coming home after a very bad day to the best kind of surprise – meatballs.
A New Beginning (Steve is a newly manifested incubus and doesn’t know how to feed. Tony to the rescue)
Memory – Tony is caught between universes/waking&sleeping and struggling to get home
Normal – Steve and Peggy on a (kind of) date in London during the war, and they get to meet Alan Turing
Shelter – a quick fill for a one word prompt over on Imzy
Mistletoe – Loki, Thor, and Baldur in Asgard. Loki’s attempted prank on Baldur goes awry.
Ashes – a Cinderella retelling
A New Beginning 5/?
I’ve decided to stray away from strictly following the prompts on my 52 short stories in 52 weeks list, because I feel that I will never progress on my WiPs if I’m spending all my writing energy on filling the prompts. However, I do still plan to stick to putting out at least one chapter/story/what have you a week, and I may still occasionally fill a specific prompt.
Here’s the next section of Incubus!AU Steve for week 8. :D
Just shy of 3,000 words, check for the cut.
The pen came flying out of nowhere. Tony flinched at the last second, but it hit harmlessly across his upper arm, bounced off to clatter on the table, and then rolled off the side and hit the carpet. It managed to land perfectly upright in the heavy pile, and Tony had the absurd urge to reach down and flick it over.
Pepper lifted both eyebrow at him. “If it weren’t for the fact that I know you can’t be enthralled, I would think you’d been enthralled,” she said.
Tony loosened his tie and unbuttoned his shirt. Despite making a few vague you don’t have to do that, Tony noises, Pepper still leaned forward to put one gentle finger on Tony’s ward. It was barely visible with the bright light from the windows and florescent above them, but she traced the edge quickly and sat back.
“So this is just the regular, non-magical kind of enthrallment,” she decided. Her face twisted weirdly – eyebrows wanting to narrow down in disappointment, but eyes bright with happiness, mouth pulled down at one side and up at the other. She made a frustrated noise. “I can’t decide if I want to just be happy for you, or smack you over the head with all the work you’re not getting done while you’re mooning over this guy.”
“Why not do both?” Tony offered. He leaned forward slightly so the back of his head was reachable, and Pepper laughingly tapped him with a handful of papers.
“I’m not even sure how to handle you like this,” she said once Tony had straightened up and her papers had been returned to the table, neatly smoothed out and precisely arranged. “It’s been two months, and I was a little surprised when it lasted more than two days.”
“You’re fishing,” Tony realized, “You’re trying to get me to dish about my new beau!” He fluttered his eyelashes and her and put a hand to the base of his throat. Pepper glared at him, but a flush spread under her eyes and across her nose. Tony propped his chin in his hand to just look at her – she had such an expressive face and she changed colors so quickly and so noticeably that it was almost an anti-chameleon response. He’d seen her go red from her hairline all the way to her chest when she was angry, and even the tips of her ears flushed red when she changed colors.
“Fine!” Pepper said, “Yes I am. You’ve been very secretive about him.”
“He’s not my dirty secret, Pep. I’m not just… using him for the phenomenal sex.”
Pepper’s eyes softened and the color faded slowly from her cheeks. Her eyebrows did that slight scrunching thing in the middle. “Are you sure he’s not using you for the free meal with the phenomenal sex?”
Tony shrugged. “Does it matter?” Pepper’s eyes widened her expression shifted toward ‘disappointed’ so Tony hurriedly continued, “I can’t have normal relationships with people, Pep. You know that. The press would serve him up with a side salad and chocolate cake for desert. I like him, I enjoy his company, he’s smart, and he’s an artist, and he has great taste in automobiles – seriously, an affinity for them like you wouldn’t believe. He doesn’t expect anything out of me, and he doesn’t get angry when I get wrapped up in work and don’t call for three days. He’s never asked me for anything, he’s a cuddler, and did I mention the sex? Fantastic, lose feeling in your toes, incoherent babbling sex. He gets a good safe meal out of it, I get lots of orgasms, and we watch Netflix on the couch like normal people. It’s fine. It works.”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt,” Pepper said with a stubborn tilt to her chin.
Tony liked the way her nose scrunched up a little when she was being Serious, though he was smarter than to tell her that she was cute when she was feeling protective. He smiled and just watched her for a few seconds, and she just looked back at him without a trace of awkwardness. Tony wanted to blurt out I love you, but bit it back at the last second.
“You are probably one of maybe… three people on the entire planet who think it’s even possible for me to be hurt.”
She rolled her eyes at him, but the blush was back as two faint smears under her eyes. The color made her eyes glow and her freckles stand out.
“How’s Huggybear?” Tony asked before they could slide even further into Moment realm. “Still snoring like a sawmill and stealing all the covers?”
Pepper threw another pen at him, and then one more for good measure, but she covered her eyes with one hand and said, “So loud.”
Tony laughed. “I did warn you.”
She’d run out of pens to throw at him, so she threw her sandwich wrapper instead. “Now can we please finish this press release?”
A New Beginning 4/?
This is technically the second half of chapter 3, but for tumblr reasons, I’ll label it 4.
About 3800 words, so watch for the cut.
Steve crossed his arms over his chest and shivered. He’d been alone in Tony’s workshop for hours, a fact that had stunned Bruce into silence for several long seconds when they’d realized that Tony had left. At first Steve hadn’t noticed the tension creeping back into his shoulders, but sitting alone in front of the blank screen, he somehow felt worse than he had the night before. He ached like he had the flu, his head was stuffed with wet wool, and he could barely swallow around the tightness in his throat.
Steve took in a slow breath and let it go. He’d been off the line with Bruce for almost ten minutes, but he couldn’t quite make himself get out of the chair. The longer he sat in the silence, the more he seemed to sink into the chair, the more his joints started to ache, the more pointless it seemed to get up and go look for Tony. It would just be more energy expended than he would be able to get back. He looked at the elevator – he could take it back to his bike, find a parking spot and the nearest subway entrance, and just ride the line back and forth until his next shift.
He slumped forward to press his hands to his face. The subways were even worse than the clubs. Rather than being filled with desperate strangers oozing sexual tension, they were crowded with desperate strangers oozing stress and depression and exhaustion. What little energy he picked up from proximity felt dry and hot and left an oily taste in the back of his throat.
Even the oily aftertaste might be better than another failed attempt at a full Feed, and the nausea and emptiness that came afterward. He remembered the tug of accidentally trying to enthrall Tony the night before and squeezed his arms hard over his stomach.
Just relax, Bruce had told him, He’s safe, you can’t enthrall him. If there’s anything in the universe you can trust, it’s that Tony Stark knows how to build a ward.
I can’t enthrall him, Steve repeated to himself. The workshop was quiet and dark, and a very loud part of Steve wanted to just stay there. The louder part was strangling him with hunger, reminding him of the lines of Tony’s thighs, the curve of his spine, the way he’d looked on his knees across from the breakfast table.
Steve’s hand drifted to his stomach, and then trailed up his chest to rest two fingers over his pulse point. It was sluggish, and he could count the beats by the throb of his headache. He swallowed nervously, counted to five, and pushed himself off the tall stool. He couldn’t go back to subway, or the club, or spend another day watching customers mill around the shop, content with their muffins and coffee. He couldn’t go home to Bucky and his perpetual state of undress, or the women he brought home.
Squaring his shoulders, he started off across the workshop. He chose the stairs, not sure that he wouldn’t run back to his bike if he had the elevator buttons under his fingers. The door to the penthouse opened when he was still four stairs away. Steve didn’t question it, just used the doorframe to slingshot into the hallway and tried to remember the layout of the apartment. They’d taken the stairs down, but Steve had hardly been paying attention to how they’d gotten to the stairs in the first place. He opened half a dozen doors before he stumbled into living room by accident and found Tony on the couch. He’d changed into a three-piece suit and sat with one ankle crossed over the opposite knee, his jacket open to show off the burnished copper of his tie against the saturated red of his shirt.
Steve had grown up Catholic, and the picture of Tony reclined on the couch with a glass of scotch resting on his knee and one hand draped over the back would have looked right at home next to any number of pictures of demons, fae, gods, and angels he’d grown up with. He stopped to just stare, barely even registering that the TV was on and Tony was talking to it.
The fourth of my 52 short stories in 52 weeks. The prompt is “A story about 3 siblings.” I chose Loki, Thor, and Baldur. 2,800 words, watch for the cut
The mead hall was full of laughing, snorting, fighting, farting warriors. Loki hated the noise, and the smell, and the closeness. He sat against the wall watching the center of the madness. Thor and Baldur, stripped of their armor but still in the same tunics and trousers that they’d worn in battle earlier. Loki had been in the same battle, shoulder-to-shoulder-to-shoulder with his bulky brothers, but when they’d ridden home with the victory banners flying, it was Thor and Baldur who got the accolades.
Thor, with his hammer, and Baldur with his sword. Any brute could swing a hammer or a sword, and Asgard had thousands of brutes. Loki had no peer in magic, and there was no being in the nine realms that could beat him in a battle with a staff and his voice. Did anyone shout Loki’s name from the balconies as they road past? No, just Thor with a hammer no one else could pick up, and Baldur who couldn’t be hurt by anything in the realms. They couldn’t be beaten because they had protections no one else did.
Baldur slammed his fist on the table hard enough to spill Thor’s drink in his lap. Thor stood with a bellow, overturning the bench in the process and sending half a dozen of his own cronies to the floor. Thor cocked his fist back and punched Baldur square in the face. Baldur stumbled backwards, tripped on Tyr, and ended up sprawled on his ass.
Loki rolled his eyes and stood up with five seconds to spare before the entire hall broke out into a brawl. He rescued his cup and slid out of the way of two valkyr barreling past him with their hands tangled in each other’s clothes and matching grins. Loki leaned back against the wall with his cup and watched the madness. Across the room, Baldur lifted Thor straight in the air, both of them red in the face and shouting, and then dropped him into the table. Thor hit, rolled off the other side and stood up with his arms curled around one of the oak benches. He swung it, smacking Baldur across the shoulders and sending him crashing right back to the floor.
With a flick of wrist, Loki could have put a stop to it. He could have had every warrior in the mead hall dangling by their ankles from the ceiling. He brushed a hand through the barely visible threads of the universe to erect a barrier between him and a metal flagon of wine flying through the air. The barrier flexed as it hit and then sent the flagon sailing back at the man who’d thrown it. It hit Geir in the side of the head. He stumbled in a broad circle and made a drunken swing at Baldur with a table knife.
“And the winner is…” Loki muttered. He lifted a hand skyward when the knife shattered against Baldur’s bicep.
This is my fairytale retelling (Cinderella), requested by @bromocresol0green, who is doing some artwork for it.
I really appreciate all the fairytale suggestions,and I think I’m going to do a few of them. I think Rumpelstiltskin might be on the agenda. ;)
This first part is about 7,000 words, so watch for the cut.
Tony was only six when his mother died. He wished it was one of those memories that he couldn’t forget – the color of the sky, where he was when Jarvis came to find him, what he had for breakfast that morning, or what game he was playing at the time. He didn’t remember any of those things, didn’t even remember the last thing he’d said to her or she to him. All he knew was that she’d left the house in the morning and then never came back. He couldn’t remember her dying, but he remembered what her death did to the house. Everything seemed to grow duller, smaller, and quieter. Dad started drinking (more) and Jarvis hugged him (more), and somehow the sun kept rising and the flowers kept blooming (even her favorites).
He was sixteen and sitting on the floor in the workshop, surrounded by the bits and pieces of a dozen different projects the day Jarvis left in the morning and never came back. The sky was the color of robin’s eggs behind the big-leafed tree outside his window, and he’d eaten nothing for breakfast at all. It was Obie who dropped all his bulk in the chair beside Tony’s desk and said, I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, kiddo…
Dad had been away on business for a month already and wasn’t due back for another month.
Just you and me now, son, Obie said.
A New Beginning 3/?
Here’s part three - and also my ‘rising to a challenge’ line
about 3k words, so watch for the cut. :)
The rush of cool air against his back woke him. Steve drew in a breath and let it out, but kept his eyes closed. The bed was warm, and smelled like Tony, and Steve was comfortable. It had been so long since he’d last woke up comfortable that he couldn’t make himself move. The sheets settled back around him as soon as Tony swung his legs over the side. Steve reluctantly dropped onto his back and peered at Tony through slitted eyes.
In the pale morning light, Tony looked again different. He wasn’t the larger-than-life cocky devil he’d been in the club, and he wasn’t the vulnerable, sweetly shy man of the night before. He was a cat in the sunshine, stretching out his arms, his spine moving like it was made of liquid. Steve ached for a paintbrush as he watched Tony’s shoulders shifting through the sunlight, followed the curve of his spine down to his hips. They were slender, about the right size for Steve to fold his hands around and rest his thumbs in the depressions on either side of his spine.
Steve stretched an arm over his head to curl around the top of a pillow and rubbed his feet over the sheets. He’d never slept on silk sheets before, but he was going to have to buy a set. It had been a long time since he’d slept so well, though that probably had a lot more to do with Tony sleeping next to him than the sheets. He was thirsty and his head hurt, but the full body ache that he’d been dealing with for months was all but gone.
Tony sat on the edge of the bed, stretching his arms out to either side and yawning. He twisted around to give Steve a sleepy smile. “Morning, hot stuff.”
A faint blush spread over his cheeks, but Steve smiled back. “Good morning.”
Tony flopped over and then flipped around to face Steve. He propped his head up on his fist and examined Steve with an unnervingly focused gaze. “This is a new experience for me,” he said finally.
“Sleeping with a stranger without sleeping with said stranger?” Steve asked. He rolled onto his side and mirrored Tony’s posture.
A New Beginning 2/?
Next part - and welcome Tony to stage. About 6k words, so watch for the cut.
Music poured onto the street, a thumping base and a higher sputter of melody that made Steve’s heart rate pick up. Steve hesitated on the sidewalk, eyeing the long line to get into the club. His throat tightened and he swallowed hard, trying to loosen it. The tightness spread down to his collarbone, and into his sternum, making his chest ache. He felt the ache in his shoulders, his elbows, his hips, his ankles. It was a fever-ache, and no position was comfortable – even standing still sent throbbing pulses up his legs and wedged a deep pain in his lower spine.
The people in line added to the thrum of the music. They were a constant tug on his attention, a radiating warmth that made him shiver. His teeth ached, and his mouth flooded with saliva.
He moved a hand over his stomach, even though he wasn’t that kind of hungry. He was frustrated and unhappy, restless in his own skin.
Steve looked up. The bouncer had one end of the velvet cord in hand, his eyebrow twitched up his forehead, chin tilted slightly down, but chest thrust out. It was the curious mix of subservience and dominance that a man in his position had to take on.
“You coming in, or what?”
Steve transferred his gaze to the long line of patrons waiting to get in and then cocked his head questioningly at the bouncer. He pried a hand out of his jacket pocket to gesture to the waiting crowd. “There’s a line.”
“Not for you, hotcakes. Come on.” He gestured into the darkened interior and gave Steve an obligatory smile, turned down slightly at the edges. He didn’t meet Steve’s eyes.
Normally, Steve would have gotten in line with the rest of the patrons. He glanced over at them again, expecting anger and annoyance. There was some of that, but more of them were eyeing him in either trepidation or lust. He ducked his head, kept his eyes away from theirs, and slid sideways into the depths of the club.
Steve hated the noise, the crush of bodies, the mingled scents of sweat, colognes and perfumes, the dry ozone of the fog machines, the sharp tang of dust burning on the lights. He’d always hated clubs, but the ache started fading as soon as he’d stepped down to the floor. He’d gone with Bucky the first few times, watching his friend work his magic among the patron that flocked to Steve’s side. It had been miserable with their hands on him stacked against the knowledge that he could Seduce any of them and they wouldn’t be able to say no if he didn’t want them to. So he started going alone, huddled against the bar for as long as he could get away with being alone, and just soaked up the energy of the room. When the ache got bad enough, he would move into the crowd and stand among the strangers to feel their skin brushing against his.
He let out a slow breath, felt his shoulders start to unknot. His entrance did not go unnoticed, and fingertips ghosted over his shoulder and down his spine as he passed through the crowd. His skin jumped, and his throat tingled at the contact, but he shied away from the hand and pushed his way to the bar.
“Stupid,” he hissed to himself. Contact was what he’d dragged himself into the club for in the first place.
A long-limbed nymph slid down the bar. She was just over seven feet tall, with pale green skin and luminous yellow eyes, her hair caught up in a tall violet swirl atop her head that added another foot to her height. Her neck seemed too slender and too long to hold her head up, but she leaned down to the bar top with a graceful swoop.
“What can I get for you, lover?” she asked.
A New Beginning
A magic creatures AU - About 3k, watch for the cut!
Late growth spurt, the doctor had said without looking up from his tablet. Steve had been sitting on the exam table, paper bunched up under his thighs, four inches of ankle sticking out of his pants. At 22, he’d expected to be five-foot-nothing, one-hundred-nothing pounds for the rest of his life. When he’d started noticing that his pants seemed short, he’d blamed Bucky for ruining a load of laundry – it wouldn’t have been the first time.
“Late growth spurt,” Steve muttered under his breath as he tried on a new pair of pants. It was the fourth pair of jeans he’d had to buy in the last three months, and he was getting tired of spending his wages on clothing. He hadn’t had to regularly buy new clothing since middle school, and until this late growth spurt, he’d had the same pair of comfortable (slightly careworn) jeans since the first day of ninth grade.
“Steve! C’mon. How long does it take to button a pair of jeans?”
“I’m sure you hold the record, Buck,” Steve called back. He tugged on the waistband of the pants, picked up his knees, and then folded forward to grab his toes. “I think these are too small,” he said, nudging the door open with his hip.
Bucky was sprawled in the folding chair set against the wall, his legs taking up most of the narrow walkway between the changing rooms. One of his hands dangled between his legs, and the other was propped up on his thigh with his phone angled up, thumb flicking over the screen. He looked like an edgy magazine ad with his hair pulled up in a messy bun, his thin button-up shirt rucked up to show a peak of a tattoo on his hip. The woman at the counter kept tossing him speculative looks.
“Really?” Steve asked with his lips pursed, hands automatically landing on his hips.
Bucky smirked and ran his tongue over his lower lip as he straightened up. He gave Steve a speculative look. “Are you doing squats in your sleep or something?”
Steve threw his hands in the air. “Yes, Bucky. I am getting up in the middle of the night and sleep-squating. That’s a perfect explanation.”
“Hey, don’t bite my head off, I’m not the one who’s grown eight inches and put on thirty pounds in the last three months.” He stood up and gave Steve a thorough once-over. “You’re either going to have start working out, or stop biking to work. You’re getting all…” He made a vague gesture with his hands. “Pear-shaped.”
Nanny AU part 2
I have been having a lot of trouble writing these last few months, so I decided to go back to one of the older stories and see what I could do. This is unbeta’ed, probably riddled with errors, but at least it’s words on the page!
Find part one here: Part one
Steve stretched his arms above his head and leaned into Bucky’s old couch. He still remembered fighting the oversized ugly thing up four flights of stairs and spending the rest of the day scrubbing at the cushions with upholstery cleaner, all the windows open to air it out, the apartment freezing and wet. Over the years, the couch had learned Steve’s body, and even six months away hadn’t changed the way it fit to his spine.
A cold shock to the back of his neck made him jump, his breath sucking through an aborted yowl of surprise. Laughing, Bucky handed him the bottle, cap already twisted off, and climbed over the back of the couch like he was still nineteen and hadn’t been through a war. Steve jostled him on the way down and Bucky did some interesting twisting to keep his beer upright and fend off any further attacks.
“So how’s life in the ivory tower?” Bucky asked. He tucked his feet up into the couch, and then wiggled his left foot under Steve’s thigh.
Steve rolled his eyes. He could feel the chill of Bucky’s foot all the way through his jeans. He obligingly hiked his leg up and Bucky wedged his foot in deeper under Steve’s thigh. Bucky took a long pull of his beer and then twisted to his back to the arm of the couch so he could shove his other foot into the crook of Steve’s knee. He turned his attention to the TV and Steve thought he was going to get off lightly for the interrogation.
“So?” Bucky pressed as soon as the first commercial started. He muted the heartburn medication commercial and tossed the remote back to the coffee table. It hit the top and clattered into the middle of the table.
Steve shrugged and turned the bottle over in his hands. He picked at the corner of the label, peeling back a quarter inch of gold paper. “It’s fine.” He took a sip of the beer and did his best to repress a stupid smile. “It’s great, really.”
“She’s a cute kid,” Bucky said.
There was just enough of a pause to catch Steve’s attention. He felt his spine straighten up and turned to Bucky, his eyes narrowing. “What?”
“Nothing,” Bucky said too-innocently. He bit down on his lower lip and hid his grin behind his bottle. “Of course,” he mused, “So’s her dad.”
“A cute kid?” Steve asked with a snort. “He’s definitely a kid, that’s for –”
Steve’s phone went off in his pocket, buzzing hard enough to make him jump. He twisted on the couch to pull it out and frowned at the caller ID. Bucky laughed at him and nudged him in the ribs with a toe as he swiped the lock screen open. Tessa’s screaming came through immediately and Steve sat forward sharply.
“Is Tessa okay?” he asked. Tony’s face appeared on screen. His hair was a mess, he had a streak of engine oil down his cheek, and something bright green on his forehead. He shifted the angle of the camera slightly to show Tessa against his chest, crying into his shoulder.
“She is fine. Angry, but fine.” He jostled the phone and leaned over, pulling a cushion off the couch down in the lab.
Steve relaxed immediately. “Tony, this is my night off. I have not had a night off in –”
“Twenty-nine days,” Tony finished for him, “I know. I’m sorry – I just can’t find the – Tessa, honey. Will you just. I’m trying to find the – Steve. I can’t find the pink one.”
Steve sighed. “The pink what, Tony? You realize that she has about three hundred pink things, right? Every time Rhodey comes back from wherever he takes off to, he brings back a dozen pink things.”
“The – Steve! Tessa, honey, talk to Steve. Tell him you miss your pink… mouse thing,” Tony said, turning the camera to Tessa, who just tucked her face against Tony’s neck and bunched her knees up.
“It’s not a mouse, Tony. It’s a rabbit. It has long ears,” Steve said. “How did you lose the rabbit? I left it in her crib less than three hours ago. She’s not going to go to sleep without it.”
“I know that!” Tony sing-songed. He jostled his whining little bundle. “Dum-E brought it down to the lab.”
Steve made a frustrated noise. “You need to restrict his access to the nursery. I know he loves her, but he drags things ev –”
“Steve!” Tony interrupted. “Focus. Pink bunny-rabbit-not-a-mouse with the long ears. Where?”
“How would I know? I am not there. Where would Dum-E hide it? Did you check his charging station? He’s been hoarding things back there.”
Tony sputtered, outraged. “He’s not hoarding things! He’s collecting. He’s a collector.” He climbed over a pile of blankets and toys that he’d obviously dragged out of her toy box and left on the floor.
Steve scratched at the back of his neck with a resigned sigh, knowing that the mess would still be there tomorrow for him to clean up. The camera jostled, turned to Tessa’s striped green blanket and went dark. Bucky dragged his feet out from under Steve’s leg and twisted around on the couch so he could see the screen.
“Is he always like that?” Bucky asked, clearly amused. He took a long pull on his beer and rested it on Steve’s thigh, leaving a nice wet ring to soak through his jeans – it wasn’t like he hadn’t grown accustomed to being covered in various liquids over the last six months.
“Pretty much,” Steve said.
The camera moved and briefly showed Tony’s feet – bare, and Steve should probably give up trying to get Tony to wear shoes in the lab – and then Dum-E. The bot was in a corner with his camera pressed against the wall. Tony aimed a light kick at Dum-E’s side. “Dum-E, tell dad where you put the rabbit. Steve said it’s a rabbit, not a mouse.”
The bot made a quiet beeping noise and moved further into the corner.
“Steve. Tell Dum-E –”
“I am Tessa’s nanny, not Dum-E’s,” Steve interrupted.
“But he listens to you – Tessa! Please, I am trying to find the atrocious pink stuffed creature. You know what, Steve – Rhodey is banned from pink for at least the next eighteen years.”
Steve dragged a hand down his face and Bucky hid his face in Steve’s shoulder while Tessa continued to complain about her missing toy. Tony turned the phone around so he could see the display. “Oh, it’s this kind of night off.”
“Hi, Stark,” Bucky greeted, waving at the camera from around Steve’s shoulders.
Tony dropped his phone into his breast pocket, giving them a view of his collarbone and more engine oil on his neck. “Hi, Barrista God. Sixty thousand.”
“Not coming to work for you, Stark,” Bucky responded.
“The other side of your neck had better not have oil on it, Tony,” Steve said suspiciously. “You know that will make her sick.”
“It’s fine,” Tony said. Tessa took a shuddery breath and quieted to fussy whines and hiccups. Tony’s voice lowered immediately. “Just help me find the rabbit.”
“Tony. She sleeps with the bunny because I put it in a bag with a towel sprayed with your cologne during the day,” Steve explained.
The phone jostled and Tony fumbled it out of his pocket to point the camera at his face. “What?”
“You heard me. Just go take a shower to get all the oil off and let her sleep in bed with you.”
“I’m not putting her in bed with me!” Tony hissed. “What if I roll over on her?”
Steve rolled his eyes again and took in a very patient breath. “Tony. It’s only seven and I will be home by eleven. Just bring the cushion that I left on the couch upstairs, put her on it so she doesn’t roll off the bed, and do your prep work for the shareholder’s meeting tomorrow in bed.”
“How do you know I have a shareholder’s meeting?” Tony asked indignantly, but he was already climbing back over the mess of toys. “Pick up the toys, guys.” Dum-E and U both chirped at him with the same level of indignant protest. “Don’t argue, you made me make the mess by hiding the mouse – the rabbit. Don’t think I forgot about you knowing about my meetings.”
“Pepper told me,” Steve said. “So you couldn’t weasel out of it tomorrow.”
“You two are not allowed to collude,” Tony complained. “I thought she didn’t like you.”
“She likes Steve better than she likes you,” Bucky told him.
“How would you know?” Tony asked.
Steve twisted to look down at him with an eyebrow twitched up. He’d managed to curl up so his feet were once again under Steve’s leg and one of his knees was pressed into Steve’s ribs. Bucky’s flexibility constantly surprised him, and he got very tactile when he was tipsy. Bucky looked back up at him with a smug smile that set of all of Steve’s Bucky-senses. “Yeah, how would you know?”
Bucky took another drink, draining the last of the beer and leaning forward to set it on the coffee table. “She told me,” he said innocently.
Tony came to a messy halt at the elevator doors and spun around, jostling the camera to get it back up to his face. Tessa hiccupped and let out a fussy cry. “Are you seducing my CEO?” he demanded. “That is not allowed. She is – she is not allowed to. With you! Coffee God or not, she is way too good for you.”
Bucky rolled his eyes. “Thanks, Stark.”
“Okay!” Steve broke in before they started arguing in earnest. “Tony, Pepper decides who is good enough for her. Don’t forget the shower, or the cushion. I will see you at eleven. Do not call again unless it’s an actual emergency.”
“Like the missing pink bunny is not an emergency,” Tony scoffed. He shifted Tessa up against his neck so he could point at the camera. “I’m watching you, Barnes.”
“So he does know my name,” Bucky murmured.
“And no seducing my nanny either.”
“He was mine first,” Bucky shot back.
“Your nanny?” Tony asked.
“Both of you. Stop,” Steve said. “Shower, Tony. Night, Tessy.” He waved at the camera, even though she still had her face in Tony’s neck. He hung up before Tony had a chance to get back into it with Bucky and set his phone face-down on the side table that had started its life as an apple crate. Bucky had salvaged it from a dumpster when he worked for an organic grocery and Steve had broken a pallet apart to make a top and a shelf. He elbowed Bucky in the side. “You don’t have to antagonize him.”
Bucky shifted to put his hand behind his neck, shoved his left foot between Steve’s back and the couch, and set his right foot in Steve’s lap.
“Since when am I part of your furniture?” Steve asked, shoving at Bucky’s foot. Bucky evaded him and retaliated by shoving his foot against Steve’s cheek. Steve snagged his foot and pushed Bucky’s leg straight up, which Bucky did not seem to mind at all. He wiggled his toes and pushed his leg against Steve’s palm. “Why are your feet always cold?”
“Poor circulation,” Bucky answered. He reached over to ease the TV remote off the coffee table. He caught it before it hit the floor and turned the sound back on, just in time to take advantage of the slick sound effect of the protagonist forensic tech peeling skin off a skull.
“Why do we watch this?” he asked, grimacing.
“For the gore,” Bucky said cheerfully, shifting his leg out of Steve’s palm and pushing his foot back under Steve’s thigh.
“You could just wear socks,” Steve suggested.
“Socks don’t come with space heater installed.”
Steve sighed. “Of course.”
Steve ignored him for a few minutes, but eventually fished Bucky’s foot out from under his thigh and dug his thumbs into the arch, chaffing Bucky’s toes between his palms. Bucky didn’t say a word, but the badly repressed grin said it all. Steve let him have his delusions, and Bucky didn’t bring up Tony and Tessa again.