sam_storyteller: (Alternate Universe)
sam_storyteller ([personal profile] sam_storyteller) wrote2015-09-19 06:08 pm
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Tiny Spy Assassin Steve: The Shorts (Avengers AU)

This is a series of short stories set in and around the Tiny Spy Assassin Steve AU, which is comprised (so far) of Toy Soldiers and Desert Knights. It may not make much sense without having read those first.

These are also available at AO3.

***

Title: Dinner and a Show
Rating: PG
Summary: Tony still thinks Steve is an art student. Steve still thinks Tony's going to dump him when he finds out the truth.
Notes: For the prompt by Quietellen on tumblr: "Can you write about what it might have looked like if Steve had rescued Tony but not revealed his true occupation and Tony went on thinking he was an artist? How else might Tony have learned the truth?"
Warnings: None.

***

When he made his escape from the Ten Rings, Tony thanked his one lucky star that the boot jets actually worked. The suit got him out of the camp, got him far enough away to survive the explosion, and kept him alive after impact.

Of course, the problem then was that he was alone in a vast desert with no water or food, but the explosion ought to at least draw some attention. He was gratified when he saw the Army helicopters swooping over, but he was also bleeding, and exhausted. He barely saw them land, dark figures dropping to the sand and running towards him, before he passed out.

***

"I honestly and truly can't believe he's alive," Clint said, and Natasha stomped his foot. "What? We were all thinking it."

"Not all of us," Rhodey said sharply.

"Okay, well, I'm man enough to admit I was thinking it."

"How is that being manly?" Peggy asked sharply. Clint subsided into silence. Peggy, sitting next to Steve, ran a hand through his hair. "Steve? Are you all right?"

"Yeah -- yeah of course," Steve said. "Just glad he's alive."

"I didn't say I wasn't glad -- " Clint began, and then dodged Natasha's second stomp. "Okay, fine. I'm gonna go get some food, I'll bring some back."

Steve rubbed his face. "I need to change. He can't see me in my SHIELD gear when he wakes up."

"I think that cover might be blown, sweetheart," Peggy said.

"No, he didn't -- he hasn't seen me yet," Steve said.

"But you were gonna tell him," Rhodey pointed out. "You've said like a million times you were gonna tell him."

"And I am," Steve said, jaw tightening. "Just. Not yet."

Rhodey gave him a skeptical look.

"He's sick. He's underweight, dehydrated, he has that...whatever it is in his chest," Steve said. "A shock right now could kill him, Rhodey, you know it could."

Rhodey stood up, smoothing down the arms of his uniform. "I am gonna give you three weeks to tell him," he said. "I like you, Steve, but Tony's my brother, and you're just his boyfriend. Being honest to him is more important to me than you keeping up appearances, you get me?"

Steve nodded. "I'll tell him. I promise. Once we're back in the US."

"I don't care if you somehow end up in Tibet. Three weeks," Rhodey said. "I'm gonna go call Pepper and Obie, let them know, then get a press conference together."

"Go, get changed," Peggy said, when Rhodey was gone. "I'll keep an eye on him until you get back."

"Thank you, Peggy," Steve said, genuinely grateful, and slunk off to change into his civs, so at least he could keep up the charade a while longer.

***

Pepper was even more pissed about the state of affairs than Rhodey had been, but Steve managed to bribe and grovel his way into convincing her not to mention to Tony that Steve had been her main point of information during the long search for him in Afghanistan. He had Rhodey tell her about the three week deadline, which probably helped, but when they landed in Malibu, she still gave him some serious stinkeye.

It had taken a lot of work to conceal the bodies of the suicide squad that had tried to take Steve and Tony out on the plane. Tony had slept through it, thankfully, but Steve knew his luck was perilously close to running out.

So was his time. He had two weeks left when they landed, and by the time he arranged everything to his satisfaction, Rhodey was texting him daily.

Twelve days.

Eleven days.

Ten days.

That afternoon, while Tony napped, Steve set up a table on the balcony overlooking the sea -- crisp white tablecloth, heavy candlesticks with tall white candles in them, the nicest silverware he could find, the best wine (JARVIS helped) from Tony's cellar. He could have cooked, but that would have been messy and distracting, and he wanted things perfect. Tony was just waking up when Steve took the food delivery, and by the time he was fully lucid, Steve was plating the steaks and heaping vegetables next to them.

"What's the occasion?" Tony asked, appearing in the kitchen doorway.

"Balcony," Steve said, with a nervous smile.

"Whoa," Tony observed, as he sat at the table and watched Steve light the candles. "I feel underdressed."

"Don't, I'm overcompensating," Steve replied.

Tony leered as he sliced up his steak. "Not in my experience."

"I have to tell you something, and I'm hoping the meal will -- well, not make up for it, but at least you'll be well fed and mad at me," Steve sighed, and Tony stopped mid-chew.

"Are you breaking up with me?" he asked. "Because that's a low thing to do to a man recovering from a terrorist attack."

"No," Steve said, and Tony relaxed a fraction. "It's -- nothing bad, exactly. I just...haven't been honest with you."

"That sounds like you're having an affair, and honestly if you are I kind of admire your time management skills," Tony said.

"You can stop making jokes about people doing terrible things to you," Steve said gently. "I wouldn't cheat on you, Tony, and if I did it wouldn't be funny."

Tony ducked his head. "Humor is how I deal with the fact that you're freaking me out," he said.

"Okay. Sorry. Look, it's just this -- I haven't been truthful about what I do for a living. I'm not an art student."

Tony set his fork down. "Oh. Oh -- this is about you being a super secret spy agent for SHIELD, isn't it?"

Steve dropped his silverware. "Uh. What?"

"Oh my God, that is what this is. Jesus, what a production number. My third guess was going to be that you were dying," Tony said, and sipped his wine.

"You knew?" Steve asked, aghast. "Since when?"

"Since we landed in Malibu," Tony said. "More or less."

"Why didn't you say anything?"

"Are you really asking me why I didn't say anything to you about you lying about what you do for a living?" Tony asked mildly.

"Well," Steve said, and then couldn't think of a reply for that.

"You're cute, and very smooth," Tony said. "But I'm a genius, Steve. I figure these things out."

"How?"

Tony looked slightly awkward. "JARVIS told me."

"JARVIS -- !" Steve stared at him, then turned to the house. "JARVIS, why did you tell him?"

"You requested silence from Colonel Rhodes and Ms. Potts," JARVIS said. "You requested no such discretion from myself. Sir asked how you got to Afghanistan so quickly. I told him."

"I was going to tell you sooner but your health -- "

"I was monitoring Sir's health," JARVIS said. He sounded irritated. "He was in no danger from knowing the truth."

Steve turned back to Tony to find him laughing silently, chin resting on his hands.

"I appreciate the steak dinner, though," Tony said, and Steve rubbed his eyes with his fingers. "I mean, you know, I like people to go to the effort."

"I'm such an asshole," Steve said.

"You're not an asshole. I'm sure you had reasons," Tony said. "Although those reasons aren't good enough that you won't spend extensive time making it up to me. Preferably with blowjobs, but I will also accept massages and more steak."

"I'm sorry," Steve said.

"Don't apologize to me. Apologize to JARVIS, you forgot to ask him to keep quiet."

"I'm sorry, JARVIS," Steve sighed.

"Accepted," JARVIS said. "Shall I begin the thaw cycle on dessert?"




Title: This Looks Bad
Rating: PG
Warnings: Brief, non-lethal animal harm.
Summary: Meeting Natasha's boss is like meeting the guy who signs God's paychecks. (I realize this could also read "Clint and Steve fight a bird; the bird is unharmed.")
Notes: For a prompt by Anon: "TSAS Clint: Assholes Against the World! (or, how did they meet, and who got blown up when they did?)"

***

"Wait," Steve said, stopping in the middle of the Helicarrier hallway. "What do you mean, your boss?"

Natasha stopped too, cocking her head. "What, did you think I just ran around SHIELD doing what I want?"

"No, but I mean -- do you mean your handler?" Steve asked.

"Right now he's my supervising agent, but now that I'm done training you, I qualify for full agent status, I'm going to be his partner. His handler promised to take me on. You'll like him. He recruited me," Natasha said. "Come on, we don't want to be late."

"We definitely do not want to be late," Steve said, wide-eyed. He'd been a SHIELD agent, technically speaking, for ten months, but he'd spent six of those doing basic training, and two more doing specialist training, before he'd been handed to Natasha for the past two months. He wasn't sure what to call what Natasha was doing to him; in theory she was training him in stealth operations and advanced combat, but in reality that mostly meant she was kicking his ass up and down the Helicarrier.

The idea that Natasha had a boss was insane. It was like meeting the guy who signed God's paycheck. Steve began forming a mental image of a lean, vicious man covered in tattoos, with knives hidden everywhere and piercing eyes over a permanent sneering lip.

Natasha led him to the upper levels of the Helicarrier, past the bridge and administrative offices, past the weather station, up to an observation deck he'd never seen before. At the far end there was a man in black jeans and a leather jacket highlighted with purple accents. He had a bow and arrow, which was weird enough, and he was aiming it at something Steve couldn't see.

"So, this is the runt, huh?" the man asked. He looked...normal. Frat-bro buzz cut, purple-tinted shades, combat boots. "Natasha says you don't suck," he said to Steve, without looking at him.

"Well, thanks for that," Steve drawled. The man released the bowstring and the arrow flew out into nowhere; a thin cord tied to the end unraveled slowly, then went slack, then went taut.

"I'm Barton," the man said, kicking a lever on a little machine at his feet, which began winding up the cord. "I recruited Tasha. I understand you're one of Erskine's recruits."

Steve nodded.

"Well, he's giving you to Coulson, but Coulson is busy. Coulson owns me, so for now, I own you."

Steve raised an eyebrow. "So you own Natasha too?"

"Nobody owns Natasha," Barton said with a slight grin. The cord, slithering over one of the guardrails, jammed in the machine, and Barton went to the edge to pull it the rest of the way. On the end was a giant bird of some kind, one leg neatly skewered with his arrow.

"You know what this is?" Barton asked, examining it.

"Uh. No, I'm not really...birds..." Steve stuttered. "Is, is this a test?"

"What? No, I just don't know what kind of bird it is. Can't be endangered, I know all the endangered ones. Tasha?"

She just gave him a look.

"Anyway, the point is, right now you are the bottom rung of the ladder, and you belong to me, so I have to find some way to make use of y -- "

Barton broke off abruptly in the middle of his alpha male posturing, because the bird he'd shot apparently wasn't dead, or even on its way to dead – Steve could see, now, that its leg had become tangled in the cord, and the arrow hadn't hit it at all. It screamed to life and began flapping wildly, beating at Barton with its enormous wings. Barton yelped, stumbled backwards, tripped over the reel mechanism, and fell on his ass. The bird went straight for his face, Barton barely managing to deflect its attacks with his hands.

Steve glanced at Natasha, who was doubled over laughing, and decided to take charge. He strode forward, squared up, and punched the bird in the head.

It turned its horrible red beady eyes on him, snapping its beak menacingly.

"There's more where that came from!" Steve said, unsure what else to do, and then felt a wash of relief as the bird spread its wings, honked loud enough to wake the dead, and flew off.

"Aw, birds," Barton sighed, pushing himself up on his elbows.

"You brought it on yourself!" Natasha managed, around her giggles. "I did my best! I set you up to look cool, Clint! You tried so hard!"

Steve looked back and forth between them, confused.

"Well, there goes that plan," Barton said, accepting Steve's hand and rising to his feet. "Call me Clint. I'm actually a complete fuckup masquerading as someone who knows what he's doing."

"I've already been trained in that," Steve said. Clint stared at him, then burst out laughing.

"Natasha was right, I'm gonna like you," he said, slinging one arm around Steve's shoulders. "Come on, we're going to Plan B. I'll buy you a coffee, you can tell me about yourself."

"For the record," Natasha said, following them, "that was a Canada goose."

"No way that was a goose, that was like, a raptor of some kind," Clint said. "Like a fucking, I don't know, a falcon vulture."

"I don't think falcon vultures are a thing," Steve ventured.

"Goose," Natasha insisted.

"Don't listen to her ever again," Clint told Steve.

"I'm not sure I should take orders from a man who got beat up by a goose," Steve said.

***

Years later, Tony Stark sat down at the dinner table, beer in one hand, and said to Clint, "So, Natasha told me to ask you about the time Steve punched a goose in the face."

"IT WASN'T A GOOSE," Clint yelled.

"We looked it up, it was totally a goose," Steve whispered to Tony.




Title: Canonical
Rating: PG
Summary: Tony is wrong and Steve knows he's wrong and he knows Bucky and Sam will back him up on this – wait, what?
Warnings: None.
Notes: For a prompt from shakespearean-ginger, who said: "Tony and Steve's first really vicious fight where Steve is in the wrong."

***

"You could not be more wrong," Tony said, and Steve suppressed the urge to yell.

"I'm not wrong! You are hallucinating!" Steve said.

"I'm not. I know I read about this."

"I have studied this for years, Tony. I'm not wrong. I swear to God I'm going to call Coulson and have him back me up."

"Go ahead, I'd love to prove him wrong too," Tony retorted, as Steve slammed pots and pans around in the kitchen.

"Whoa, I thought you were making dinner," Sam said, walking into the kitchen. "Don't make me hold some kind of domestic intervention."

"He is wrong, he's so wrong I can't even refute it coherently," Steve shouted, waving a pan at Tony.

"I'm not wrong," Tony said. "You just can't stand someone knowing more about this than you do."

"This?" Sam asked, but Steve was already yelling "Fanfiction is not canon, Tony!"

"I don't read Captain America fanfic! It was an actual comic book from the fifties, it was published by Marvel!" Tony yelled back.

"I can't believe you, there weren't any Captain America comics in the fifties!"

"Wait," Sam said, and both of them looked at him. "Y'all are fighting about Captain America?"

"He says Captain America was a woman-hating pro-bomb McCarthyist," Steve roared.

"He won't listen to sense," Tony said, gesturing at him. "I'm not saying he was those things all the time, but just because those comics weren't well-known -- "

"Hold up, hold up," Sam said. "Seriously. You two are about to say things which, trust me, you will later regret, over a comic book."

"Captain America isn't a comic book to Steve Rogers, he's a religion," Tony said sourly.

"Which is how I know I'm not wrong!"

Sam rubbed his face. "Tony, can you produce this comic book?"

"Not out of thin air," Tony said. "But I know I saw it. It just wasn't in a comic book called Captain America."

"What the actual hell," Bucky asked, poking his head through the door. "Who's yelling about Captain America?"

"Bucky, will you tell Tony I have read every Captain America comic in existence?" Steve said.

"He has," Bucky said to Tony, apologetically. "I mean, the only ones I think he missed -- "

Steve made a sudden, outraged noise.

" -- are the ones in that creepy Men's Adventure magazine," Bucky finished.

"The what now?" Steve asked.

"You know, after they cancelled the comic, they did some in Men's Adventure. You remember, my dad had them, Mom wouldn't let us read them because she thought they were porn."

"What," Steve said.

"I read them, they were disappointingly lacking in porn," Bucky added.

"JARVIS," Sam said, "Can you find us some online archives for Men's Adventure Magazine in the early fifties?"

Images began appearing on the glass pane at one end of the kitchen, and all four men crowded around to examine them. There was a long silence -- apprehensive on Bucky and Sam's part, smug on Tony's, disbelieving on Steve's.

"I'm afraid Sir is correct, Agent Rogers," JARVIS said eventually. "It would appear that in these three issues, Captain America does indeed advocate the use of atomic weapons to suppress the communist threat. He also encounters several female spies, all of whom die unmourned in the course of his adventures."

The others looked at Steve. He set his jaw, a muscle jumping in his throat.

"Doesn't count," he said. "It's a made up comic in a magazine."

"Oh my GOD," Tony said, throwing up his hands and rubbing them through his hair. "Will you just once admit you're wrong?"

"I'm not wrong. It's not in a Captain America comic, it doesn't count," Steve said, and went back to the range, where he started slamming pots and pans around again.

Tony started to follow him, a storm brewing behind his eyes, but Bucky stepped in front of him and shook his head gently.

"He won't admit he's wrong!" Tony hissed.

"Stark, you're off probation with me," Bucky said. "I no longer will murder you if you break his heart. I like you. But I want you to think about every way in which you consider yourself a failure as a boyfriend."

Tony jerked back as if he'd been slapped.

"And I want you to remember that every relationship involves compromise even when the other person is visibly, insanely wrong about something," Bucky continued. "And I want you to think about how this is a comic book. Let this one go."

Tony looked from Bucky back to Steve, who was angrily breaking eggs into a bowl.

"My turn?" he asked Bucky.

"Yeah, buddy, your turn," Bucky agreed, and stepped aside. Tony approached cautiously, waiting until Steve stopped vigorously whisking the eggs before hesitantly wrapping his arms around Steve's waist.

"Clearly that is something Captain America would never do," he said, and Steve's shoulders relaxed a little against his chest. "And when something is so obviously incorrect, we shouldn't consider it canonical."

"Damn right," Steve muttered, but he leaned back into Tony and allowed him to drop a kiss into his hair without objecting.

Tony saw Bucky give him a thumbs-up as he left the kitchen.

***

Men's Adventure totally did feature some horrible Fifties Cap.




Title: Fight It Out
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Tony catches a hand-to-hand demonstration between Steve and Peggy. It makes an impression.
Warnings: None.
Notes: For a prompt from Anon: "Tony sees Steve training with the other spies."

***

It wasn't like Tony was unaware Steve could fight. Before he'd known what Steve really did for a living, Steve had joked sometimes about getting into the occasional fistfight. In Afghanistan, Tony had seen Steve break a man's neck, and he'd seen the aftermath of what happened when people tried to attack Steve. He'd seen him jump Obie in the Iron Monger armor with nothing more than a couple of knives and determination. He knew Steve could fight.

He'd never quite understood what that meant, on the other hand, until today.

Their relationship was public now -- forcibly public, which wasn't ideal, but still, it had its positives. Because he was Tony Stark, everyone in the country knew he was dating Steve. But that meant they didn't have to sneak around, even at SHIELD, and Tony had come to realize that this meant he could visit SHIELD with his consultant's badge and surprise Steve with lunch. Once he'd come to this realization (lying in bed with Steve asleep against his back, luxuriating in the warmth and comfort of having nothing to do and someone to do it with), it had been hard to wait for lunchtime to happen the following day.

This was being a good boyfriend. A great boyfriend, even. And he was looking forward to the smile on Steve's face when he showed up with Steve's favorite lunch, the weird chicken pasta pesto salad from the deli near Stark Tower.

He'd impatiently arrived at eleven, however, which was technically lunchtime but somewhat early, and a rather overawed SHIELD trainee had directed Tony to the physical training level, where Steve was (finally) being allowed to teach unarmed combat.

Apparently he'd already finished with the actual training for the day and was about to demonstrate some of the techniques they'd been studying; Tony crept quietly into the room and settled on a bench near the back so as not to be distracting. Peggy was stretching and tying her hair back into a tight bun; Steve was shaking himself out, hopping on his toes and swinging his head from side to side until he got a gratifying crack of vertebrae resettling.

"Ready?" he asked Peggy, who nodded, and then they just -- they just went for each other.

Tony watched, shocked, as Steve -- his goofy, butt-dancing, hand-me-down wearing boyfriend -- spiritedly attempted to kill one of their mutual friends. Peggy held her own easily, but Tony also hadn't seen her fight before, and it was breathtaking watching the two of them. Steve moved like a snake, sleek and seemingly everywhere at once, graceful and brutal. Whenever he landed a hit, the crack of skin on skin made Tony blink, but otherwise he stared intently at the match going on in front of him. At one point Steve rolled backwards to avoid a kick and then flipped to his feet like a gymnast, and Tony felt his breath catch.

He tried to quash the little voice at the back of his head which said that's yours, that's all yours, because of course Steve wasn't something to own, he was his own man. But he couldn't help it. That graceful blur of movement, watched by everyone else in the room, belonged to him. He'd somehow earned Steve Rogers.

Less arousing and more terrifying -- perhaps a good thing given he was in a roomful of SHIELD agents -- was Peggy's equally swift brutality, and he found his hands clenching in the pre-fire position for the armor every time she knocked Steve back. They were about evenly matched; Peggy looked to be stronger, and had height on her side, but Steve was faster. When he finally ended the demonstration, neither of them had been a clear winner.

The rest of the room filed out slowly; Peggy saw Tony and gave him a wave, but didn't stop to talk, engaged with another student who was asking about one of the moves. Tony sat there until the room was nearly empty, and Steve (toweling his hair off, which made it puff out around his head in a temporary halo before he smoothed it down) noticed he was there.

"Tony!" he said, grin bright and huge. "Hey! What're you doing here? Director Fury call you in?"

Tony had almost completely forgotten his reason for coming, and he just sort of opened and closed his mouth. Steve leapt lightly over one of the benches and settled down across from him, draping the towel around his neck.

"Did you see the demo?" he asked, unwrapping the bindings on his hands.

"Yeah," Tony managed, in a slightly strangled voice. "That was...impressive."

"Thanks."

"Lunch!" Tony blurted, suddenly remembering. He reached into the bag next to him and produced the little tub of chicken-pasta salad and the plastic fork. "I came to. Bring you lunch."

Steve beamed brightly. "That was nice of you! Oh man, I love this stuff," he said, shoving a forkful into his mouth. "You came all the way to HQ just to bring me lunch?"

"Well, now I'm going to come all the way to HQ every day," Tony said absently. Steve looked up from his food. "That was. You fight. Impressive."

"Wow, I melted Tony Stark's brain," Steve said. "That has to be some kind of federal crime. Really, seeing me fight does it for you?"

"I wasn't aware of that, but yes," Tony said. "You're just really...efficient. And you know I love efficiency."

"I do know that," Steve agreed. "I wouldn't think it'd be your thing, it's very violent and involves me getting punched."

"Very much my thing as it turns out," Tony said. "Wait, that came out wrong -- "

Steve put a finger to Tony's mouth. "I get it," he said, clearly amused. He slid his fingertip down and pressed gently on Tony's lips, until Tony opened and nipped the pad of his finger gently. "It's like watching you swear at a car engine. I know I shouldn't enjoy that, but..."

Tony sucked Steve's finger between his teeth. Steve's eyes darkened.

"I really, really can't lose my job because I made out with you in the training room," Steve said.

"I'm a billionaire," Tony pointed out. "You don't need a job."

"I tell you what," Steve said, pulling his hand back reluctantly and returning to eating his lunch. "You go home and behave yourself this afternoon, and I promise you a private gymnastic demonstration when I get off work. You'll see just how fast I can move."

"I would -- " Tony cleared his throat before his voice could crack. "I would like that a lot."

"Me too," Steve said, around a mouthful of chicken salad. "Anyway, let's not court temptation. I thought you were spending all day locked in the lab, working on that thing for the stuff."

"Yeah, I had this whole...lunch idea last night, I wanted it to be a surprise. I do have to work on the thing, but the deadline's flexible."

"Does Pepper know the deadline's flexible?" Steve asked shrewdly.

They spent an enjoyable half-hour, Steve savoring his salad and Tony rambling to him about his workload, working through various problems as Steve listened and asked the occasional question. When he stood to leave, Steve leaned into him and kissed him, long and deep, which didn't help his resolve not to have sex in SHIELD HQ.

"I saw you when you came in," Steve said in his ear. "So if you think I wasn't showing off for you, you're mistaken. Love you, have a nice afternoon," he added, patted Tony on the shoulder, and left. Tony had to sit down and spend a good five minutes thinking about boring engineering problems before he could leave SHIELD without embarrassing himself.

When he got back to the workshop, there was an email from Peggy that literally just said :) in the subject line and had a series of video attachments titled STEVE ROGERS - UNARMED COMBAT and various dates. Tony fervently blessed Peggy Carter, forgot to blush, and saved them for detailed perusal at a later date.




Title: Not Not Married
Rating: PG
Summary: Peggy has a great idea about not being married.
Warnings: None.
Notes: For a prompt from Archwrites: "Peggy has Opinions. Because Peggy is awesome. I mean, this opens the door for basically just any Peggy fic."

***

"You know, English," Angie said, as Peggy eased herself down into Angie's gloriously comfortable couch, "I promised not to ask you about your job."

"Angie, please," Peggy breathed. She'd bruised pretty much every rib during the last op, and it hurt to exist, let alone have deep emotional discussions.

"I'm not try'n'a scold!" Angie said, and the terrible thing was she meant it. Angie was forthright and never played games, which Peggy loved about her, but she could also be something of a terrier when she got an idea between her teeth.

Given her history, Peggy could safely be accused of having a type -- blonde and stubborn.

"I won't ask, hon, I won't. I just. When you come back this beat up, it's hard not to want to know," Angie said.

Peggy rubbed her face with one hand. "Know what?"

"Didja win, at least?" Angie asked.

Peggy let her hand fall and looked up. Angie was smiling at her with that sly, thoughtful smile she had that Peggy knew was really going to land her that starring role on Broadway someday.

She spread one arm along the back of the couch, even though it hurt, and beckoned for Angie to join her.

"Yes, my sweetest," she said, as Angie settled gingerly in next to her, putting a pillow between her arm and Peggy's ribs. "I did win."

"Well, that's all I care about," Angie said, passing her the cup of tea from the side table. There was a painkiller in the saucer, and Peggy took it gratefully, washing it down with the tea, strong and milky, just how she liked it. Angie stroked her fingers through Peggy's hair, quiet and soothing, until the pain faded, and Peggy started to feel like she was floating a little.

"Hey," she said, and Angie made a noise of acknowledgement. "I've been thinking, Angie."

"Yeah? Don't hurt yourself," Angie said with a grin.

"I know neither of us wanted to be tied down," Peggy said, and felt Angie tense a little. "And that's worked well, hasn't it? Being able to see other people sometimes. I mean, mostly."

"I guess so," Angie said.

"But...Sam and Bucky are getting married, you know, and it made me think...it's not that I want to settle down, but...do you suppose..."

Angie turned her head and kissed Peggy's temple. "What's that?"

"What if we only saw other people...together?" Peggy said, feeling light and happy about the idea, even as she knew that was probably the painkiller. "Like. What if we were an open...couple?"

Angie snickered against her hair. "You aren't askin' me to marry you, are you, English? ‘Cause that'd be upstaging the boys, which I'm all for, but I figured you'd have more class."

"Not marriage. Not marriage. Just not...not marriage," Peggy managed. "I feel very strongly that we should not be married but we should share. Things. Like bills and an apartment and...pretty men."

Angie sighed, but it sounded like a happy sigh to Peggy. "Okay," she said. "We can try that."

"Yay," Peggy said softly.

"How about you take a nap now, huh?" Angie said, taking the remains of her tea away. "You just close your eyes and I'll be here being not-married to you, how's that?"

Peggy nodded, obediently closing her eyes. "Love you, Angel."

"Love you too, English."




Title: The Underdogs
Rating: G
Summary: A covert op to bust up a nest of neo-nazis goes terribly, destructively right.
Warnings: None.
Notes: For a prompt from Scifigrl47, involving Steve, puppies, and the fourth of July.

***

"Ohh, happy birthday to me," Steve sing-songed into his radio, as he crept through the underbrush. "It's Nazis!"

"You're entirely too excited about Nazis," Peggy answered. She was 'up top' as she and Sam had taken to calling it, winging her way in a flight rig through the still-dark 3am sky.

"It's my birthday and the fourth of July and I'm supposed to be spending it with Tony," Steve said. "I was not supposed to be stalking down some freak who made threats against the parade. Tony was not supposed to be out of state to handle emergency security violations at the Malibu plant. The only way this day could have come out well is if the lone freak was actually Nazis and I get to beat them up. But look! It's Nazis!"

"Just let him have his moment," Bucky sighed. "He'll be insufferable until he gets to punch some Nazis."

"Well, Nomad, this is your operation," Peggy reminded him. "What's our play?"

"You and Falcon pick out a few likely starting points and start flare-gunning them."

"I love the smell of flare guns in the morning," Sam agreed.

"Hawkeye, Winter Soldier, I want you on opposite ends of the compound sniping anyone trying to get out," Steve continued. "Black Widow, you and I are going straight in. You secure any evidence you can, I'm going to cover you."

"How are you feeling about chaos and carnage?" Natasha said.

"Feeling pretty good about it," Steve replied. "You know, I don't want us on the six o'clock news but if we kick up a light show I'm more or less okay. Let's empty this place out. Shoot to incapacitate."

"You have fun, sweetie," Peggy told him.

"Oh, I plan to," Steve replied with delight.

***

Suspicious packages in secret Neo-Nazi compounds in upstate New York weren't something one approached lightly, and while Steve had clocked the box under the blanket under the desk in the control center, he'd ignored it until the Nazis were dealt with. He'd enjoyed that; one of them had laughed at him and called him a genetic inferior, and the crunch his nose made under Steve's boot heel was really satisfying.

Still, you never knew what might be a bomb, and once they'd secured the compound and called for SHIELD to come collect their new prisoners, he'd gone back to find it...moving.

"Is it ticking?" Sam asked, alarmed. "You need me to haul you out?"

"No, it's..." Steve rubbed the back of his head. "Growling."

"Bomb squad can be here soon," Bucky said. "I'm coming to you. Tasha?"

"Almost done securing the data, and the servers are offsite anyway, so if it is a bomb, technically the only thing we'd lose is Nomad," Natasha said.

"Love you too," Steve replied, shooting her a grin. From the console across the room, she grinned back.

"Just let me get behind a wall," she said.

"It's not a bomb," Steve said confidently. The movement of the box was too erratic, as was the low noise emanating from it. He carefully lifted a corner of the blanket with his boot and kicked it away, then tugged on an open flap of the box to pull it out from under the desk.

Five sets of tiny, beady eyes glimmered up at him.

"Whoa," Bucky said, leaning over Steve's shoulder as he arrived.

"What is it?" Sam asked over the comm.

***

Phil Coulson was waiting for them when the minijet landed on the Helicarrier a little after sunrise. His arms were crossed and he was frowning.

"We don't remove anything from the scene, you know that," he said, as Steve stood at the bay door, holding the box. It was about half the size he was, and still moving. "We especially don't remove potential biohazards from the scene without informing me what they are."

"They're not biohazards," Steve said petulantly.

"Natasha says they're biohazards," Coulson replied.

"Natasha's a narc," Steve announced.

"What's in the box, Nomad?" Coulson asked tiredly.

Steve shifted the box to one arm and reached in with the other, pulling a small, squirming body out.

"They're puppies," he said, as if he was wounded by the very idea of Coulson thinking they could be harmful.

Coulson eyed him. "That's the smallest dog I've ever seen."

"They're chihuahua puppies," Steve continued. His eyes were huge and sorrowful. Coulson had long since grown immune to them, and he knew Steve did it on purpose, but even so, there was a small shard of affection in his chilly heart, and he knew Steve could tell.

"Give up now," Sam said, clapping Coulson on the arm as he passed. "If you're very lucky he won't make you adopt one. He's got five."

"Nazi puppies," Coulson said.

"Rescue puppies," Steve countered. "Practically hostage puppies."

"I'm going to say this very slowly and clearly so that even your puppy-addled brain will understand," Coulson said. "You need to take your box of five Nazi chihuahua puppies and remove them from the Helicarrier before Nick Fury finds out about this."

"As if I would leave them with SHIELD," Steve sniffed. "I'm taking my five adorable rescued hostage puppies and leaving and you can't make me run any more ops today because it's my birthday."

Coulson pinched the bridge of his nose. "Barnes, Wilson, Romanoff, Carter, debriefing. Barton."

"Yessir!"

"You're excused from debriefing -- "

"Yes!" Clint pumped one arm.

" -- in order to evacuate this potential biohazard from the Helicarrier."

"Come on, Alpha Wolf," Clint said. "Back in the minijet, I'll drop you at the Tower."

***

Steve named them, which he knew was a mistake, because you only get attached when you name something. He'd probably have to find forever homes for all of them -- he'd definitely have to take them for their shots and checkups in the morning -- but they were tiny and God knew what the horrible Nazis had done to their mother, and...and they were cute, and Steve had a soft spot for the little guy.

He named the two girls Mercy and Justice. The three boys he named Senator, Judge, and Spots. Well, he'd always wanted a dog named Spots and if he decided to keep one it would be that one, the loudest, squirmiest, boldest, and by far most troublesome one.

He spent the day introducing them to Tony's penthouse, feeding them, training them not to fear the elevator, walking them around the little garden near the side-entrance to the Tower, and cleaning up one or two messes -- the result, he was sure, of nerves, not malicious intent.

Tony called him around noon to wish him happy birthday and try to have phone sex. He didn't feel it was the time to bring up the Howling Chimmandos.

At two pm, Nick Fury appeared in the penthouse. He didn't speak. He just appeared, gathered up Justice, gave Steve a look that said nobody was going to mention this ever again, and vanished.

At seven pm on his birthday, July the 4th, the fireworks started and Steve realized this might be a bigger job than he could handle on his own.

***

Tony had known from childhood that Stark Industries was not simply a job; it was a way of life, and even after passing off the vast majority of the burden to Pepper, he still had sacrifices to make. Things like "surprise visits to Malibu to sort out regulatory issues with the safety protocols in Factory 2" weren't pleasant, but they did allow him to keep Steve in a style to which he wished Steve would become accustomed. And anyway, with the Iron Man armor, it only took about an hour to get from Malibu to New York.

He enjoyed landing in New York, actually, flitting through the fireworks on the outskirts and dodging Rockets Red Glare and Bombs Bursting In Air. He had a sack of In-N-Out burgers tucked into the armor as a birthday treat, and a gorgeous and durable wristwatch he'd bought Steve for his actual present, so when he landed on the Stark Tower helipad, he was feeling pretty good about the world.

But the windows were all black-tinted, the highest-level privacy they could provide, and when he walked in carrying the jeweler's box and the bag of burgers, Steve was huddled in a corner of the couch with a huge blanket covering him.

"Hey," he said, crossing to the couch and bending to kiss Steve, who tilted his face up with a smile to greet him. "Don't get up or anything."

"You're back!" Steve said. "I didn't, um, think you'd make it."

"I brought dinner. You need to help me heat it up so I don't set it on fire."

"I uh. I really didn't expect you home tonight," Steve said, and Tony recognized an awkwardness to his tone he hadn't heard in some time.

He peered down at Steve. "Do you have a very small person under that blanket?" he asked, confused. "Are you having a mini-affair?"

"What? No!" Steve said. But he didn't explain why he wasn't getting up, and he pulled the blanket tighter.

"Steve," Tony said. "Are you sick? Did you break a limb in the op this morning and not tell me?"

"No," Steve said, but his eyes flickered.

Tony crossed his arms. "What did you do on the op?"

"Well, that was pretty great, actually. I punched a whole bunch of Nazis."

"Steve."

There was a particularly loud burst of fireworks outside the Tower, and they boomed into the room through the open helipad door. Steve winced, and -- something under the blanket moved.

Then a head poked out from the general direction of Steve's thigh, and Tony nearly had a heart attack.

"Jesus," he said, startling back. "You have an infestation!"

"Don't be mad," Steve said, and pulled the blanket back.

At first it looked like he'd developed a couple of strange tumors, but eventually they resolved themselves into four tiny dogs, huddled up against Steve, trembling with terror. One of them looked at Tony with clear murder in its eyes and howled.

"Spots, no," Steve scolded, pulling his shirt down over the howling dog, who abruptly stopped.

"You know what, I'm not going to ask why you have puppies," Tony said. "I don't think I want to know."

"The fireworks are scaring them," Steve said, as if that explained anything at all. Another rocket went off, and one of the dogs wigged out and snapped at another one, who shrieked and clawed its way over the third to huddle into Steve's crotch. Steve, with an efficiency usually reserved for murdering his enemies, tucked all but one of the dogs into the pockets of the hoodie he was wearing.

"JARVIS, shut that door. Here, you take Spots," he said, depositing the dog in Tony's free hand. Tony stared down at it in bewilderment. "Come on, Tony, he's frightened."

"You know what? So am I," Tony said. He stared at Spots. Spots stared back. "He has the face of a monster."

Steve rolled his eyes and stood up, pushing Tony's hand so that he was cuddling the dog against his chest. Spots pressed a paw inquisitively between the gaps in his dress shirt and then raked his claws down Tony's belly.

"Ow! You little -- " Tony caught Steve's eye, " -- innocent and adorable creature."

One of the puppies had worked itself free and was now merely a tail emerging from the In-N-Out bag. Another one had apparently just peed in Steve's pocket.

Steve beamed approvingly at him as Spots arched up, caught Tony's collar in its teeth, and worried it with a high-pitched growl.

"Best birthday present ever, right?" Steve asked.

"You are lucky I have a soft spot for tiny, violent creatures," Tony informed him, gathering up the bag, dog still inside it, and heading for the kitchen. "Let's have dinner and go to bed before you reveal you've got a sack of kittens in the closet."

"I figure they're cold and anxious," Steve said, following him. "So they'll definitely need to sleep on our bed tonight."

Spots, apparently jealous of his sibling, made a grab for the bag of burgers and bit Tony's thumb instead. Tony was about to swear and resolve this situation by having JARVIS locate an animal shelter, but a final, gunfire-like burst of fireworks lit up the kitchen windows. With a whine, Spots buried his face in the crook of Tony's arm, trembling pathetically. He could feel his urge to find the nearest humane society before this got entirely out of hand ebb away.

"They can stay, but they're not sleeping on the bed," he said.

***

Tony Stark awoke on the morning of July 5th to Steve Rogers sprawled over his left side, snoring gently into his neck, and four tiny balls of fluff strategically huddled around the warm hum of the arc reactor.


Original art by kayquimi.




Title: Iron Nomad
Rating: PG
Summary: Steve is having the best anniversary ever. Tony is having a headache.
Warnings: None.
Notes: For a prompt from Anon: "Steve and Tony's second anniversary?"

***

"This," Tony said, as he dodged heat-seeking missiles, "is the very goddamn definition of a busman's holiday."

"You love it," Steve replied, then crowed as he scored a direct shot on the battle cruiser.

"I love you, which is why I tolerate it," Tony corrected.

"Ha! I've got it on record now!" Steve answered triumphantly.

"Shall I set it as your new ringtone, Agent Rogers?" JARVIS asked.

"No, set it as my assigned ringtone on Tony's phone, please."

"Belay, JARVIS," Tony ordered.

"I'm afraid the ringtone has already been set, Sir," JARVIS replied, utterly unapologetic. "There is a missile on your four o'clock, evading."

Tony sighed. This had all been going so well until the emergency call.

Steve had been after him for an Iron Man armor almost since he'd built the Mk. II. It had become a joke, really -- he knew Steve only wanted it because if Steve was wearing one, Tony would pay more attention to the armor's weak points and safety redundancies. Steve didn't really want an armor for armor's sake. On the other hand, Tony had finally realized round about month 20 of their relationship that Steve was actually not going anywhere, and should therefore be kept as safe as humanly possible because what were the odds Tony was ever going to find another boyfriend who would permanently put up with him? Not high.

So he'd built him an armor, a very safe armor, small and fast and powerful, like Steve, as an anniversary gift. It hadn't precisely been a surprise, since he'd put Steve on training modules as soon as he started construction, but when he'd finally unveiled the Iron Nomad for the first time, the look on Steve's face had been gratifying. One part shock to two parts arousal, with a twist of glee.

That had been four hours ago. They'd meant to go on a training flight over the Atlantic, landing in Paris for dinner and then lots of adrenalin-fueled sex in Tony's little Parisian pied-a-terre. He'd cleared his calendar through the end of the week, and he was looking forward to taking Steve to the Louvre (and more importantly, in his mind, to the finest Parisian tailors).

Tony had enjoyed watching Steve be clumsy at something for once in his life -- the flight controls took some getting used-to, even after lots of simulations. Once Steve mastered the basics, then it got really fun, like flying with Rhodey always was, only Steve was faster and more daring in his armor than Rhodey could be in the flying tank of War Machine. And there was something utterly compelling about seeing his lover reveling in his best handiwork.

Then Coulson had called and said that there were reports of a flying battle cruiser assaulting a small Eastern European country, and he wanted the Avengers on it. Steve, without missing a beat, had informed Coulson that they were already on their way and could engage, and then he'd zipped the fuck off to Sokovia, right past Paris, leaving Tony with little choice but to follow.

And now they were fighting what looked like a cheap Helicarrier knock-off, apparently unmanned but with plenty of missiles. Steve's plan was to distract its targeting system from firing on Sokovia by making himself a target, which was such a terrible idea and so very Steve. He was really enjoying himself too, adding insult to injury.

"Hey, Top Gun," Tony said, blasting a handful of missiles in Steve's blind spot. "We need a plan, Ace."

"I lied, JARVIS, make THAT my ringtone on Tony's phone."

"I'm serious. Here's the problem -- you're fast and nimble enough to get into the control center, but I'm the one with the brains to disable this mess."

"Send me in, talk me through it," Steve said.

"Steve, I don't think -- "

"Cover me!" Steve yelled, backflipped through free-fall, and zoomed straight at the center of the beast. Tony deeply regretted amping up the suit's propulsion. (Well, Steve was short, there'd been extra room in the boots...)

"Iron Man, I have some intel you may want," Coulson said.

"Great timing, Agent."

"We're getting word that this is a Latverian device."

"Fuckin' -- Victor fucking Von Doom, I swear to God -- "

"He claims it's out of control, that he definitely did not send it to attack and conquer Sokovia, and that if you can disarm it without destroying it he would appreciate you doing so."

There was an explosion from the cruiser, and then a second, much bigger explosion, and Steve let out a whoop over the radio.

"I think I destroyed it!" he said, armor a streak of blue and gold as he exited the flaming wreckage, which was starting to drift, smoking, towards imminent impact with a mountain lake.

"You owe me a new second anniversary," Tony said to Coulson.

"I'll get right on that," Coulson replied neutrally.

Later, standing in the town square of a tiny Sokovian village with Steve, both of them smeared with sweat and grit, accepting a basket with a baby goat and two rabbits in it as a thank-you gift, Tony turned to Steve to blame him for this mess and saw his eyes glowing as he lifted the faceplate. His whole face was alight with joy, flushed and beaming under the dirt of battle.

"I got a suit of armor AND a goat! This is the best anniversary ever," Steve declared.

Tony sighed inwardly, but the regret had gone out of his heart. He tipped Steve's chin up and kissed him, smelling the heady mix of Steve's aftershave and with the hot-wires tang of the armor.

"Yeah," he agreed. "It's going okay."

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