murder of one (_seven_crows) wrote,
murder of one

And Never Brought To Mind

Title: And Never Brought To Mind
Fandom: Marvel Adventures: The Avengers
Rating: PG
Summary: Steve gets selective amnesia. Tony hates magic.
Warnings/Notes: No warnings; thanks to Ari for the beta! Can be read as gen or pre-slash.

Tony's actually pretty glad he missed the fight with Nightwitch, both because he really hates magic and it would've been really awkward to have his existence erased from Steve's memory while he was there. Instead, he hears about it afterwards, when he finally gets out of the coding brainstorming session with the guys from the VLA and sees missed calls from pretty much all the other Avengers.

"Don't freak out," says Jan's voicemail, which is a great way to ensure a freakout, "but something's up with Cap. We're figuring it out. Um, maybe – maybe you should steer clear for a while until the figuring out is done. See you back at the Tower."

"We have a situation that is somewhat delicate," says Storm's voicemail. "Captain America was – affected – by Nightwitch."

"Cap somehow got selective amnesia and doesn't remember you," says Spiderman's, which is even worse. "It would be kind of funny, if it weren't so weird."

Tony's not laughing.

He high-tails it back to Stark Tower, albeit in a car since he doesn't have his suit, and even though he rushes out of the elevator he stops dead once he hits the living room, where the rest of the team is sitting – including Steve.

Steve, whose hand goes instinctively to his shield when he sees Tony. Steve, who looks at Tony with wary distrust. Steve, who clearly has no idea who Tony is.

Well. Crap.

"Sorry I'm late," says Tony, a bit breathlessly. Jan is shaking her head and drawing her hand across her throat in a clear "no seriously, quit it" gesture, and Tony ignores her. "I, uh, I heard that..."

He glances at Steve, who clears his throat and stands up.

"You must be Tony Stark," he says, holding out a hand to shake.

It's surreal as hell. It doesn't help that Spiderman is looking between Tony and Steve like all he's missing is a bowl of popcorn.

"I guess I must be, yes," says Tony. He hesitates about the handshake, but Storm is watching with enough concern that he sucks it up and takes Steve's hand. "You know," he says, because he doesn't really know what else to say, "I don't think we've actually ever shaken hands before."

Steve frowns. "We haven't?"

"No," says Tony. "The first time we met, you threw your shield at me."

Steve looks even more concerned.

"Well, you thought I was a Nazi," adds Tony. "And a robot."

"You're not helping your case," says Jan, standing up from the couch. "It was on the sub, when we pulled you out of the ice."

"It was my sub, actually. Well, a Stark Industries sub, so pretty much...mine..."

This is even less comfortable than Tony had thought it would be.

"I need a beer," says Logan, heading for the kitchen. Tony briefly entertains the notion of going with him, but realizes that rampant drinking is probably not the best way to get in Steve's good graces. It's kind of weird, not to be in Steve's graces, good or bad.

"You know what," says Jan, "we should probably – Storm, you and I have that thing..."

"Yes," says Storm. "Spider-Man, weren't you going to go with us?"

"No, I think I'm cool here," says Spider-Man, pitching back on the sofa and kicking his feet up. "I kind of want to see what - "

"Spider-Man," says Storm.

"Right, coming."

Jan shoos them away, and exaggeratedly mouths at Tony to be nice.

And then he and Steve are alone.

"So," says Steve, with an obvious effort towards polite conversation, "you own Stark Industries?"

"Well," says Tony, "C.E.O. I handle the business end of things. And some of the design. And engineering. And sometimes promotion. Wait, if you don't remember me, who did you think was C.E.O. of SI?"

"Pepper Potts," says Steve, and Tony chokes a little bit.

"Please," he says, "please don't tell her that. I'll never hear the end of it. Ever."

Steve sounds uncertain – and skeptical. "She's not the team fundraiser, either, then?"

"No – that would also be me. She – you don't think she's Iron Man, too, do you?"

Steve raises an eyebrow. "'Iron Man'?"

"I'll take that as a no, then. Good – that would've been more than my ego could bear." He flashes what he hopes is a self-deprecating grin. Steve appears unmoved.

"And who's Iron Man?"

"Still me. It's kind of – well, it's a suit of armor, but it's also got repulsors in the hands. And in the boots, so it can fly."

"A suit of armor."

"Yeah. It's very high-tech," says Tony, but the words fall flat even to him. "It's, uh. It's pretty strong. It can, you know. Lift stuff. Move stuff. Punch stuff..."

"Uh-huh." Steve crosses his arms, and his eyes narrow. "You'll forgive me for saying this, Mr. Stark - "

"Tony," Tony protests.

" - but I'm finding this all a bit hard to swallow."

Tony's heart sinks. "Look at it this way," he says. "What's more likely – that your memory was messed with, or the rest of the world's?"

Steve makes a noise that's halfway between acknowledgment and skepticism. "I know what I know, Mr. Stark."

"Tony. And apparently not."

Steve isn't quite glaring at him, but the look Tony's getting is definitely a patented I Am Captain America And I Won't Back Down, Gosh Darn It look. Tony's seen it before, but it's usually directed at supervillains, Nazis, and postmodernists. "All I'm saying is that I'll protect my team at all costs."

Now that gets on Tony's nerves. "Oh, and you think I won't?"

"I think it remains to be seen whether this is really your team."

Okay, yes, that stings a bit. Because for every time Iron Man's saved someone's life, either as a part of the Avengers or otherwise, there's a quip in the papers about Tony Stark finding his latest adrenalin rush, or implication that he's just the Avengers' wallet. And hearing these doubts from Steve, of all people... "Look, Cap. I get that things are weird right now. But I am an Avenger, whether you can remember it or not. A founding Avenger, no less." Tony sighs. "I hate magic."

Steve heads back to the couch, watching Tony warily over one shoulder all the way. "I've never seen magic do anything of this magnitude."

Tony can't resist. "Or maybe you just don't remember."

And then his phone rings. Tony takes the call with only a cursory glance at the caller ID, looking back at Steve to gauge his reactions. "What meeting am I missing now, Pepper?"

"Board of Directors," says Pepper, not missing a beat. "You also missed your three o'clock with the particle accelerator engineers and your three-thirty with SHIELD."

"Right," says Tony, still watching Steve. Steve is watching him right back. "Apologize to the LHC for me, tell SHIELD to deal with it because that meeting was unnecessary anyway, and I'll be right there for the Board of Directors." He flips his phone shut, ignoring Pepper's continued tinny – and irritated – voice. "Duty calls," he tells Steve, gesturing with the phone.

"Right," says Steve, with a level of articulation that manages to make the single syllable sound ominous. "Of course."

Tony's not proud of it, but he pretty much flees.

He goes to the Board of Directors meeting, and the rescheduled conference call with Geneva, and then decides that his armor could probably use some extensive upgrades and retreats into his lab.

Every inch of the suit gets polished, every bit of circuitry double-checked, and it still only takes him about three hours and all he can think about is that this is when he and Cap were supposed to be getting burgers.

So instead he starts working on some additions he'd been planning. Well, additions he'd thought about planning. Mostly he just wants to see if he can make it work.

"Tony, have you even had dinner yet? It's almost - "

Pepper always walks in at the most inopportune times, and though Tony hides what he's working on, judging by the look on Pepper's face it wasn't fast enough.



"What's that behind your back, Tony."

She's using her I'm-not-even-going-to-pretend-to-be-interested voice. That's never a good sign. "I'm just making some upgrades to the armor," says Tony, as nonchalant as he can. "I'm adding some...ground-based transportation systems."

"Ground-based transportation systems."




"Because those looked like roller skates to me, Tony."

Tony gives up, and brandishes the skates. "They're ground-based. They're transportation. And let's face it, if you could have rocket-powered roller skates, you'd do it too." An idea strikes him. "Do you want rocket-powered roller skates? I could make you a suit. I think you'd look really good in it. I bet I could make it couture, get Dolce and Gabbana to design some - "



Pepper leans against one of the lab tables, giving him a despairing, I-don't-know-what-to-do-with-you, kindergarten-teacher look. "It's almost midnight, and you've been in here for hours. No matter what the two-bit supervillains may think, you're not a robot and you do have to eat. And sleep." She looks him over again, and her nose wrinkles. "And shower."

Tony barely suppresses a surreptitious sniff. "I'm in the middle of something."

"No, you're in the middle of jet boots. Jet boots don't constitute 'something.' And you've got a design meeting with the head of the VLA project in eight hours. Are you actually incapable of checking your schedule, or do you just get a kick out of making me do it for you?"

"Well, I wouldn't want to steal your thunder," says Tony. "You know what, pop it up. Let me take a look at it."

Pepper raises an eyebrow. "Now?"

"Yep. Oh, come on, you're going to give me crap for not checking my schedule, and now for checking it?" He holds out his hand, and Pepper gives in, pulling out a tablet computer and handing it to him.

He looks it over, then taps the screen a couple times. Every appointment with Steve disappears – the sparring matches, the hamburgers, the patrols, the team-leadership meetings, the basketball's kind of disturbing to realize just how much time he and Steve spend alone. His schedule looks downright empty now, and Tony considers for a moment.

"Are the VLA guys still trying to get me out to New Mexico to look at it in person?"

"Well, yes - "

"Perfect. Cancel the design meeting, I hate Skype anyway. They've been bugging me long enough, they can get the real deal." He catches the look on Pepper's face. "What? I thought you'd be happy for me to get them off your back."

Pepper takes back the tablet, and folds it against her stomach. "What are you running away from?"

"I'm not running away from anything," says Tony, but even he can tell how false it sounds.

"Right," says Pepper. "You're just installing roller skates in the suit and running halfway across the country because you feel like it?"

"Well, yes."

"Uh-huh." Pepper looks at him for a long moment, then says, "I'll let the VLA know to expect you." She starts walking out the lab, but stops at the doorway. "You can't run forever, Tony."

"I'm not running," he says, but he's thinking, I don't need forever. Just until the spell wears off.

So he goes to New Mexico. Bruce is running communications when Tony calls, so he doesn't even have to talk to Cap again. Instead, he flies to the middle of nowhere, New Mexico, and climbs a radio telescope or two. He also eats some pie, which is nice, and he really does get a lot done. And, okay, maybe he doesn't check in as regularly as he should, but the Avengers have his number and they can call if anything comes up – the armor is more than capable of flying from New Mexico to New York, after all.

Nobody calls. He's almost relieved, and almost disappointed.

After three days in New Mexico, he figures he can't really put off checking in any longer, and calls Jan.

"Tony," Jan answers, with an irritatingly knowing tone. "How's – Arizona, was it?"

"New Mexico," says Tony. "It's...New Mexico."

"Middle of nowhere, huh?"

"From what I can tell, there isn't a decent cup of coffee in the entire state. How are things back at the ranch?"

"You mean, does Steve remember you yet? Unfortunately, no." Jan sighs. "And I don't think he likes that you disappeared so soon."

"And when you say he doesn't like it..."

"I mean he thinks you're a diabolical supervillain with some bizarre plan to infiltrate the Avengers and he's the only one who knows the truth."

"How very self-righteous," says Tony. "How very Steve."

"Well, you're not exactly here to convince him otherwise," says Jan. "With how fast you got out of town, I'm halfway starting to believe it, myself. Kidding," she adds.

"Not funny," says Tony.

"Little bit funny? No?"

"Any leads on Nightwitch?"

"We've talked to her," says Jan, and now her voice is guarded. "And...she says she can't reverse it. Apparently, every spell is broken a different way, and she doesn't know what this one is."

Tony closes his eyes. Damn. "Have you tried Doctor Strange? A second opinion?"

"He's working on it. Oh, Peter might have something, though."

"Peter? Really?"

"He said to tell you that if something can be remembered, it can come back." There's a rustling sound, like Jan shrugging into the phone. "He said you'd get it."

Tony rubs his forehead. "That's not a lead, it's a Doctor Who quote."

"Well, he was probably just trying to help. Tony, just come back to New York, all right? At least we have coffee here."

"I'm here for work," Tony protests, but weakly.

"Nobody's buying that. Seriously, nobody. Not even the Hulk. This is getting ridiculous. I mean, okay, so Steve can't remember you. We're the Avengers! Weirder things have happened!"

"He thinks I'm a supervillain!"

"Then come back and convince him you aren't! And weirder things have happened than that, too. Just saying."

"Okay, so now I clearly have to come back to convince all of you that I'm not a supervillain. Great."

He can imagine Jan's impish smile from the tone in her voice. "Does that mean you're coming back?"

Tony feels something in him give up in the face of Jan's...Jan-ness. "Let me check the flights."

Between layovers, short notice, the VLA being in the middle of nowhere, and the time difference, Tony leaves at five o'clock in the morning and lands in New York at five in the evening. Pepper meets him at the airport, with a look on her face that tells him exactly how much he's being judged.

"So was it a hot date or a bad case of human decency that brought you back?" she asks him.

"Actually, I realized I was neglecting my jet-boots. Those things can be surprisingly needy."

Pepper raises an eyebrow. "You didn't mention that the roller-skates were going to have jets in them."

"It's a multimillion dollar piece of equipment that can fly, withstand stresses that would make skyscrapers crumble, and run the power grid of a small Carribean island for a year," says Tony. "Why wouldn't the roller-skates be jet-powered?"

Between Jan's pep-talk – if you can call it that – plus the banter with Pepper and losing an entire day to travel, Tony feels almost back to normal when he walks into Avengers Mansion. That lasts about as long as it takes him to walk into the living room, where Spider-Man, Storm, Wolverine, and Steve are playing Scrabble.

"'Lepidoptera' is a word!"

"We're playing Scrabble in English, Peter, not Latin."

"It's proper scientific terminology in any language."

"Dead languages aren't wildcards – oh, hello, Tony. Welcome back." Storm smiles, but glances from Tony to Steve, whose brow has become ever-so-slightly more furrowed as he examines his tiles.

"Tony! How was the VLA? Did you get to see the correlator? Was it gorgeous?"

"It was ancient," Tony tells Peter, resting his briefcase against the kitchen counter. "That's why they're upgrading it. How was everything...?"

"Boring," says Wolverine. Since Wolverine is playing Scrabble, Tony is not surprised.

"I didn't see anything on the news, or get anything over the emergency system, so I figured."

Steve finally looks up from the board. "So, what took you to New Mexico, Mr. Stark?"

It takes all of Tony's self-control not to twitch. "Stark Industries took a contract to upgrade some of the equipment at the Very Large Array radio telescope, and I've been personally seeing to some of the details."

"So personally that you flew halfway across the country when, arguably, your team was in a crisis," says Steve, and now he's using his mild, leading-you-into-a-trap tone.

"The armor is perfectly capable of flying to New York in an emergency," says Tony, trying to keep his own tone even but mostly ending up with clipped.

"You know what, I think we should check 'Lepidoptera', I'll go find a dictionary to check it," says Peter, all in one rush.

"Perhaps we should leave the two of you alone," agrees Storm, and Tony's pretty sure she kicks Wolverine in the shin under the table to get him to leave, too, and then it's just Tony and Steve. Again.

Tony takes a deep breath, and reminds himself that Steve is still Steve, even if he's being stubborn and pigheaded and self-righteous against Tony this time.

"So," says Tony, "Jan told me that you thought I was a supervillain who somehow found a way to insinuate memories of my nonexistent life as an Avenger into the rest of the world."

Steve's lips thin. "Did she."

"Yeah, but – that's not the point." Tony takes a deep breath, and reminds himself of what he practiced on the flight. "The point is, she said I was avoiding you, and I was, so I wanted to apologize."

Whatever Steve was expecting Tony to say, it wasn't that. "Apologize?"

"Yes," says Tony. "Because she was right. I've been avoiding you, and I'm sorry."

Steve stares at Tony for a long minute. "Then why were you avoiding me?"

"Because..." There's no way for this not to be awkward. Tony shrugs one shoulder. "Because we're friends. Or rather, we were. And now we're not. Also, it's weird to be called Mr. Stark."

Steve laughs at that a little bit, and Tony decides to press his luck. "I get that you don't trust me right now, and I wish there were some way that that could not be the case. And I hope that I can show you again that I'm worth trusting. But until then, I hope that we can at least be teammates, because I don't like the idea of you guys going into battle without me."

Steve considers this for a moment, then nods. "All right."

There's still a glint of suspicion in his eyes, but Tony tells himself to just take what he can get and excuses himself to go to his lab.

The good thing about Steve not knowing him anymore, Tony supposes, is that Steve can't tell when Tony's managing him. The thought is not comforting, and Tony lets his head rest against the armor stats display for a moment before moving on.

Things get back to a strange kind of not-normal-enough after that. Steve insists on a one-on-one training session with Tony, to get to know his style, and everything is off: Steve is too gentle with him, pulling his punches, while Tony already knows most of Steve's tricks. The end result is thoroughly unsatisfying for everyone – Tony doesn't even get a good workout from it, and Steve seems disconcerted that Tony kept using Steve's moves.

Movie night is no better. The movie is a fairly safe one, Star Wars: A New Hope, but Steve is utterly transparent in testing Tony the whole time, making inside jokes to see if Tony remembers them. Tony gives up halfway through, and says that he has an emergency Stark Industries budget meeting; the next time Pepper sees him, she does not look impressed.

But the worst is when the whole team meets up for simulations and the Hulk accidentally bloodies Steve's nose.

"Cap always go left!" says the Hulk. "Iron Man go right, Cap go left!"

"Well, this time Iron Man went right, and Cap went right-er," says Peter, which Tony thinks is really not helping.

"Don't worry about it, Hulk," says Steve, pinching his nose to stop the bleeding. "It's nothing – I've had worse. It's not your fault."

But the look he gives Tony doesn't say the same about him.

"That is the way we normally run that drill," Tony says, trying not to be overly defensive.

"I said 'left.'"

"And habit said 'right', because that's the way we did it the past ten times."

"According to you," says Steve.

"Uh," says Jan. "Do you two want to - "

"Yes," says Tony. "According to me. And if we're going to be teammates, then that should be enough."

"Let's not get too hasty - " says Peter.

"No, if Iron Man has something he wants to say to me, he should say it," says Steve, folding his arms across his chest.

"It's obvious to everyone that this isn't working," says Tony. "If you can't trust me to have your back - "

"I can't trust you to follow orders – there's a difference."

" - will you just let me finish? If you don't trust me, then just say so!"

Steve's jaw sets. "Fine. I don't trust you."

Even after everything, it feels like a punch to the solar plexus.

Steve continues. "I think it's suspicious that you just appeared in everyone's memories after a fight with a witch that you weren't even present for. I think it's odd that you disappeared right after appearing. And I think it's questionable that I'm the only one who forgot about you when we were supposedly such good friends."

Tony takes a moment to remember how to breathe, while Jan and Peter trade oh-god-why-is-this-happening looks, and the Hulk looks back and forth between Tony and Steve.

"Well," says Tony, when he can speak again. "I'm glad we've got that cleared up. I have a lot on my plate at the moment, and I think it would be best if I took a leave of absence from the team."

He doesn't wait for a response.

The jet boots get a lot more attention.

"Okay, it was getting ridiculous before, and now it’s just embarrassing," says Jan, when she corners him in the lab the next day. "Will you two talk to each other?"

"We already did," says Tony. "It didn't help. Obviously."

"Tony, come on – there has to be something - "

"Well, apparently not, because unfortunately, Captain America is not only stubborn and holier-than-thou and always knows best, but he's also Captain Freaking America." Tony gives up on the jet boots, strips off his goggles, and lets the wrench in his hand fall onto the work table. "Let's face it, Jan, the team needs Cap more than they need Shellhead. I'll still fund the team and, and help out if you guys need backup - "

"Oh, come on, we both know you couldn't stay away from the team if you tried," says Jan. "And besides, why should you be the one to have to leave the team? Technically, you were here first."

"It's fine," says Tony.

"No, it's not." Jan makes an exasperated noise. "Both of you need to just suck it up and get along."

"I'm not the one having problems, here!"

"Yeah, but you definitely aren't helping."

Tony sighed. "It's just – it feels like we broke up and he got the team in the divorce, but we were never even married."

Jan hesitated. "Is that a hint of wist I detect in your voice?"

Tony gives her a dark look. "Has there at least been any news from Strange?"

"Why don't you ask him yourself?"

Tony looks down and rubs some grease off the back of his hand. "The communications room is down past Steve's."

"You two are impossible," Jan tells him. "And – well. Strange says...there's nothing he can do. He said that it would take a force more powerful than he could harness to undo the spell." She bites her lip. "We may have to consider...this might be permanent."

Tony's head falls forward. "Great."

"Which is why you can't just leave the team," Jan says. "You two are going to have to work it out eventually, right?"

"Right, because once Steve gets a notion into his head, he's so good about being open to other options."

"Either way, this current situation is - " Jan cuts herself off as her Avengers ID starts beeping, and she pulls it out.

"There's some sort of sea monster attacking the harbor," comes Steve's tinny voice. "We need everyone we've got – Avengers, assemble!"

Tony's hand goes to his own ID, which is quiescent. "Go," he tells Jan. "You're needed."

Jan reaches over and puts her hand over his. "You come, too," she says. "Show Steve that you're a part of the team. You heard him – we need everyone we've got."

Tony hesitates. "You go ahead," he says. "I've got to reassemble the boot jets before I can fly anywhere."

Jan makes a face at him. "Fine, but if you don't show up, I'm going to assume that Steve's been right all along and you don't actually exist."

"Ha, ha," says Tony.

It takes him about fifteen minutes to reassemble the boot, and ten minutes after that he's at the harbor. 'Some sort of sea monster' doesn't quite do it justice, because it looks for all the world like Godzilla, but the other Avengers have been keeping it mostly in the water – there's minimal damage to the surrounding buildings.

He looks around for the rest of the team: the Hulk is wrestling with it, Spider-Man is using his webbing to keep several docks from collapsing, Storm is creating whirlpools, Giant-Girl is evacuating unlucky fisherman, and Wolverine is perched on Godzilla's head and stabbing repeatedly. Since Godzilla is about ten stories tall, it doesn't seem to notice.

Cap is talking to the police, probably coordinating the evacuation, which makes sense. Usually in this kind of situation, Cap would be fairly reliant on Tony to fly him closer to the target.

Tony lands a few feet back from him, and Cap gives him a Look and wraps it up with the police.

"Leave of absence?" he asks.

"Tell me you couldn't use another flier," says Tony.

Cap surveys the situation – Godzilla has now noticed Wolvering, and is swatting at him ineffectually – then turns his attention back to Tony. "You any good with giant lizards?"

"If I had a specialty, they wouldn't be it, but I think I can get its attention somehow," says Tony.

Cap nods decisively. "Distract it, and tell Logan to go for the eyes."

Wolverine flies past them, hurled by a finally-victorious Godzilla.

"Right," says Cap. "Tell Hulk to go for the eyes."

"Yessir, Captain America, sir," says Tony, lifting off again. Over the thrum of his jets, he can hear Wolverine swearing.

Godzilla, it turns out, really dislikes the repulsors, and Tony manages to keep him from attacking Hulk long enough for Storm to bring out the lightning, and it turns out Godzilla likes that even less. Hulk gets it right in the eyes, but unfortunately, that's when Godzilla starts staggering – towards the docks.

Storm and Tony try to herd Godzilla back, but it finds a docked sailboat first. Tony is between it and the docks when it lifts the sailboat up and takes aim – right at Cap, who has returned to coordinating and has his back turned.

"Cap!" he yells, and guns it as Godzilla throws.

Even going as fast as he can, he's not going to make it – he might make it to Cap, but not out again, and of the two of them he's less likely to be crushed – and besides, Cap is pretty strong, and better some repulsors than a whole sailboat -

He lifts his hands, repulsors on full, and aims at Cap. He's only a few feet away when he lets loose, and Cap is thrown clear of the sailboat's landing site.

Tony is not. Or at least, when he comes to after who-knows-how-long of disorientation, that's what he figures, because he's beneath the boat, which, judging by the sharp pain in his everywhere, is pretty heavy.

He can hear voices, distantly, and after a few moments he manages to lift the boat off of himself and let it fall again a few feet away, and most importantly not on him.

"Tony!" Jan's giant hand overs by him as he sits up, and when he looks up, he sees her kneeling by him. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah," he says, and it only takes him three staggering tries to stand upright, with the pain in his side and the adrenalin wearing off. "Ow."

"You're bleeding!"

Tony looks down. The armor is cracked and dented, and the reason his side hurts so much is because there's a gash in it where the sharp edge of the bent armor cut him. "Oh, wow, yeah. That's – that's some blood." He opens the faceplate of the suit and gulps fresh air – and then remembers the circumstances of his injuries, and the adrenalin spikes again with worry. "Where's Cap? Is he okay?"

"He's fine, and you really need to sit down or something – we need to get you to a hospital - "

Tony looks around for Godzilla – he's being directed back out to sea by Storm and Hulk, that's nice – and then Steve, who's standing about fifty feet away and staring at Tony with a mixture of confusion, worry, and something else that Tony can't quite identify. Then something clicks, and his expression changes to be even more concerned, which makes sense because now that Tony thinks about it, he probably shouldn't be swaying this much.

That's when he passes out again.

His extensive experience with hospitals means that he recognizes the beeps of the medical equipment and the sanitized-bleach smell before he even opens his eyes. Once he does, he sees that the room is empty, although a glance out into the hall shows him that Steve is standing out there, talking to a doctor.

Steve's okay. The thought is incredibly reassuring.

It only takes a few minutes for Steve to notice Tony staring, and once Tony realizes that he's staring, the weird, floaty feeling makes a lot more sense – he's pretty definitely on some painkillers. Steve gives him a quick smile, and then, from the expression on his face, thanks the doctor before coming in.

"Welcome back," says Steve. "How are you feeling?"

"Did I get hit by a sailboat?" says Tony. "Thrown by Godzilla? Because that's pretty much how I feel."

Steve smiles at him again, and Tony realizes how long it's been since he's seen him smile like that. "You did. You also saved my life."

Tony shrugs carefully. "The repulsors didn't hurt you too much?"

"I'll be sore for a day or two, but that's all." Steve's smile fades, and he shifts with a discomfort that Tony's never seen on him before. "Tony, I just wanted to say – well, I want to apologize, first of all, but you should also know that – well, it looks like the spell is broken." Tony stares at him blankly for a moment, until Steve adds, "I remember you now."

"Oh," says Tony. "Oh."

Steve crosses over to the bed. "I'm sorry for how I treated you – there's no excuse for it."

"You did think I was an evil sorcerer hell-bent on infiltrating the Avengers," says Tony. "Let's face it, with us, these things happen. Don't worry about it."

"Still, I feel like I should make it up to you - "

"No, don't - "

"At least let me buy you a burger."

Tony grins, partly without realizing. "Well, if we're talking burgers, I can hardly say no, can I?"

"Good!" Steve claps a hand on Tony's shoulder. "I guess Strange was right – it did take a force more powerful than he could harness."

Tony feels a strange thrill of excitement. "What?"

Steve grins widely. "Friendship!"

And then disappointment. "Right. Friendship, yeah."

"I should go tell everyone else you're awake," says Steve, giving Tony's shoulder a squeeze before letting go. "Pepper's been really worried."

"She always worries," says Tony, settling himself more comfortably in the bed.

"Oh, and Tony?" says Steve, in the doorway. Tony looks up at him, and Steve gives him one last smile that's almost shy. "Welcome back."

Tony feels something in him warm. “You too, Cap.”
Tags: fic, marvel

  • Spelled Out in Ice

    Title: Spelled Out in Ice Fandom: Teen Wolf Summary: "And yet we’ve been stealing people for thousands of years. Changelings, human lovers,…

  • The Sky Receding

    Title: The Sky Receding Fandom: The Amazing Spider-Man Summary: Penny Parker navigates the waters of relationships, heroics, and the best way to…

  • The Light Beyond the Trees

    Title: The Light Beyond the Trees Fandom: How to Train Your Dragon Rating: PG Notes: Written for trekkie_mage. Summary: Hiccup,…

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  • Spelled Out in Ice

    Title: Spelled Out in Ice Fandom: Teen Wolf Summary: "And yet we’ve been stealing people for thousands of years. Changelings, human lovers,…

  • The Sky Receding

    Title: The Sky Receding Fandom: The Amazing Spider-Man Summary: Penny Parker navigates the waters of relationships, heroics, and the best way to…

  • The Light Beyond the Trees

    Title: The Light Beyond the Trees Fandom: How to Train Your Dragon Rating: PG Notes: Written for trekkie_mage. Summary: Hiccup,…