Chapter 1: Prologue
All angels start somewhere. They stand at the golden gates of heaven, waiting assignment – those are the souls that had passed. However, there are new born angels; ones that need to grow their wings as they start from an infant’s age are cast down into the earth to protect. Many young angels are unaware of being angels, in fact, they believe they are regular human beings until they are summoned back into the heavens to join and take their rightful place in the heavenly host of angels.
Angels need to be loved and cared for in order for their wings to grow and flourish, but if they are mistreated, their wings will turn black, droop and fall, even break and trail behind them which cause them to lose their wings. Their wings cannot be seen by other humans on the earth so they appear as regular human beings. Only angels can see other angel’s wings.
Not everyone is born an angel, there are only one or two souls that are placed down onto the earth to grow, but as stated before, they equally have the chance to lose their wings and become humans. However, once an angel loses its wings it gets sent down to purgatory, it has no chance of joining the host. Usually, angels that were sent to the Earth as babies don’t become aware of their wings unless they continue believing, continue to have faith and stay on the true path. If they stray, there is less chance of their wings ever growing or becoming aware of them.
Ever since the Earth was starting to become even more corrupt, since mass hate and hysteria filled the airwaves, the amount of angels sent to the Earth had significantly decreased. Only once in a blue moon, would the higher-ups send down an angel to serve its duty and protect. In turn, angels that walked the Earth were scarce.
Due to corruption being an issue, there was one rule, to prevent the heart from growing corrupt, to prevent angels from getting distracted from their job; angels are forbidden to fall in love with each other. They were allowed to fall for humans because humans are simple, they need to be loved and cared for, but angels will be cared for by the creator – and that was all the love they need.
Their duty was to serve as soldiers of God. To fulfil the word of the creator. Protect and guard with the purest of souls finally getting to return to heaven, where they shall get all they have ever dreamed of; past the golden gates and into paradise to rest for eternity in bliss.
Chapter 2: Awakening
Steve's finally woken up, with the thought of being an angel in his dreams but he realises soon enough that it isn't a dream, and finally finds the angel he thinks he was meant to retrieve.
Steve Rogers had fallen into a deep slumber, being cast into ice, frozen for 70 long years. Within those 70 years he was stuck in limbo, staring at the gates of heaven, admiring their golden shimmer but he was locked out. He was one of the few angels cast to the Earth during the war, to protect many and save countless lives. He performed his duty but was still not allowed into the heavens.
“Why can’t I enter?” Steve asked, after hours, days, weeks of waiting, he would ask the same question over and over.
“You duty is not done. You must retrieve an angel for me.” The voice would bellow from above.
“What angel? Who?” He would plea, shouting up in return, staring upward into the endless abyss of clouds, seeking out an answer.
Time after time he would ask this question but receive no answer, no, he would remain trapped in limbo for what seemed an eternity. He couldn’t even see his friends or family enter the gates as passed on souls, all was clouded to him. In limbo he shall remain, trapped and surrounded by nothing but clouds and hearing nothing but this voice as he begged for more answers.
One day he sat, with his large white wings curled around him, huddled up with his knees to his chest as a large opening was formed in the clouds; a bright light which caused him to stand to his feet, staring at it with his wide blue eyes in awe. Was this his time? Was he finally going to be accepted into the host? What about this angel he was supposed to get?
He stepped cautiously toward the light, and before he knew it, there he was, shaking on an ice cold lab table surrounded by a man in a metal suit, a giant with golden hair and other people. Just staring at him and trying to talk to him, telling him that he was now in the ‘future’. It was clear he wasn’t in limbo anymore; he was back on Earth where he had started. Was that whole debacle about him being an angel just a dream? Had his mother filled his head with so many stories that it had become so difficult to distinguish reality from fiction?
He just had to carry on by putting on his uniform, taking his place as the Captain of the Avengers, pretending it was nothing but a dream.
One night he walked down the hallways of the Avengers mansion, which he had grown so accustomed to over the years that he had spent there, working alongside his team and building great working relationships. Of course he spent a long time mourning the loss of his loves, particularly Peggy, how could he forget her? But he was being told to move on, for his own health and to heal his heart but nothing; nobody could replace the hole that Peggy had made. His love would go on forever, but there was no one who interested him in the slightest, all but one. There was one person who had held him in such high regard, someone who had looked after him, cared for him, hell, even fought with him ever since he had awoken. Throughout everything though, Steve couldn’t help but fall for this man as wrong as it was to even crush on another man. But the thing was, Steve had such immense respect for him, adoration beyond words or actions. But there was no way in the world his feelings would be returned. The man was a playboy, a rich guy who could have any woman with a simple click of his fingers. Besides, Steve’s pride would never let him confess he actually held a torch for this guy, not when he was so content with having him there at his side as his friend.
Steve was walking the hallways because he’d just had a dream which rendered him unable to sleep; a loud booming voice, “Find the angel, find the angel, return him home, find the angel.” The voice repeated in his head over and over. It had gotten to a point where it was getting so loud that he jumped as he woke up. It wasn’t the first time he’d had that dream either, it was reoccurring and had become more frequent as of late. He couldn’t just ignore it so he continued to think about it as he walked along the empty hallways, with everyone sound asleep.
Eventually, he walked by Tony’s room, seeing the red light from the dim bulbs inside seep out into the corridors. Steve couldn’t help but peer into the door that was slightly ajar and noticed Tony sitting on the edge of his bed. His back was facing the door, he was shirtless and sat there with his face in his hands. It was that moment Steve’s eyes widened, he noticed these large black drooping shadows that extended from his shoulder blades to the bed. But there was something more about these shadows. They seemed to fall strangely, as though they were resting on the bed. Steve stepped closer and then touched the door with a mesmerised expression plastered over his face.
That second, it clicked, those were wings. Tony had wings. That instant Steve finally was hit with the realisation that all the past, all of what he had thought was a dream was in fact, reality. He felt his own wings suddenly fan out, taking him almost by surprise as he glanced back and noticed them. All this time he had thought that it was a dream and had lost faith, he had become blinded by other obligations of being a superhero that his own wings had become invisible. Now that he saw Tony’s, his own reacted, the feathers fanning out and shuddering at the sight of the shadows that indicated that Tony in fact, still had his wings. This couldn’t possibly be the angel could it? The angel that he was told to retrieve by that voice? Tony seemed to be a lot of things, but never an angel. Sure he was kind, gallant, loyal, strong, selfless… Okay, maybe he did possess a lot of angelic qualities, but he also used to be ruthless, a merchant of death and an alcoholic. That probably explained why his wings looked so horrid, so broken and destroyed and coated in black tar.
Steve swallowed heavily, his eyes fixed on them and then suddenly Tony turned around, noticing the sound of shifting feet. As soon as he saw that it was Steve, his guard lowered a little. He was just about ready to grab his suit; taking him by surprise was never a wise move. Tony had suffered from post-traumatic stress ever since he was first taken captive, and the following times didn’t help either, resulting in terrible nightmares and extreme paranoia in most cases. Though when he saw Steve standing there, he could swear for a second, the way that the light was shining from behind him with his muscular silhouette blocking the way, that the light formed two large wings behind him. It looked so angelic, so much so that Tony rubbed his eyes in disbelief with the back of his hand. He hadn’t been sleeping well at all, and clearly it was making him delusional.
The Captain took a couple of steps closer, “Sorry I just… I noticed you couldn’t sleep.”
“Yeah, go figure.” Tony said. It didn’t surprise him that Steve was awake and wondering the hallways, probably patrolling as always. The guy never took a break.
“Nightmares again?” Steve asked as he approached with concern, he hated to see Tony so exhausted, but still, he was in shock, seeing the wings trail behind Tony like that.
“Yeah…” Tony’s jaw clenched, “I’d rather not talk about it.”
“It’s fine, I wasn’t expecting you to.”
He was always so understanding, even when they argued, Steve would come across as though he’d clearly assessed both points of view. Tony scooted to the side, allowing Steve some space to sit next to him, though Steve approached with such tentative steps and sat slightly distanced from him, careful not to sit on the wings that were drooping lazily across the sheets, unable to support themselves.
Tony decided to keep his eyes set on the floor, “What about you? Patrolling?”
“No… Couldn’t sleep either.” Steve said, his eyes drifting from Tony’s pained expression to his wings again. “So… You uh… You’re one of us?”
Tony blinked momentarily, his mind was clouded as it is and he didn’t need Steve speaking in enigmas to confuse him even more, “One of us? Avengers? Old man, are you losing your memory?” He asked, “Come on Capsicle… It’s way too late at night to go through this.” He said, his hand instantly moving toward his own forehead and rubbing it.
“No… You know…” How was he going to phrase this? He’d known Tony all of his present life, Tony Stark was the man who had first sat down with him when he had arrived there, he was the one who took him to museums, shown him everything he had missed, sat in theatres to show him inspirational speeches that he hadn’t been there for, he’d given him the Avengers mansion and a place to stay as well as introducing him to a group of remarkable people who soon became his friends and family, furthermore he gave him a home and most of all, gave him a purpose. Tony Stark had given him everything he could’ve ever asked for, and it was then that it had clicked properly; Tony was an angel. He was Steve’s angel throughout everything.
“I don’t Steve, what are you talking about if you’re not talking about the Avengers?” He asked, rubbing his temple with slight frustration. He wasn’t mad at Steve, he was angry at himself for not being able to think of anything else but tragic events in his life, especially when he just wanted to sleep.
“You’re an angel…” Steve said, gesturing to Tony’s wings that slumped down, dragging on the bed as Tony moved his shoulder blades slightly.
He laughed. Sometimes Steve would say the most naïve things, he guessed that it was all part of his upbringing and the fact that he grew up in a ‘pure era’, considering he was in the war and all. He half expected Steve to be nothing like the comic books when he first woke up. He expected him to have a potty mouth, just like the rest of the army lads. But as always, Steve proved him wrong, and was one of the most mild mannered gentlemen that he had ever met. Shy in some cases, when it came to talking about intimacy, but still a man.
“That’s a good one, what is that? A pickup line? Lemme tell you Cap, that lines pretty outdated.” Tony said with a laugh.
“It’s the truth.”
Tony laughed, either Steve had a great poker face or he was delusional too, probably from the lack of sleep. “You need some sleep pal.”
“Tony, just… Just look at me please, I’m serious here.” He said, placing his hand under Tony’s chin to turn it. They were used to this sort of contact and were beyond chummy when it came to their gestures of ‘friendship’, constantly hugging, patting each other on the back, even holding onto each other and carrying one another.
Steve was the only man who could touch Tony like that, the only man who Tony would allow to do that, especially after what Howard had done to him as a child, he was almost afraid of men of authority after that.
“Angels aren’t real… Asides from the X-man.” Tony explained, looking into the deep azure eyes of the man before him.
Steve shook his head but maintained eye contact, “No Tony, they’re real, you know I’m not particularly religious, I do remember my ma’s teachings but no… You’re an angel Tony, I can see your wings.”
“Wings?” Tony scoffed, “What wings?”
“Those.” Steve gestured to Tony’s back, and watched the man look over his shoulder, “They’re… Broken, but it’s okay Tony, I’ll fix them. I’m here to fix them, I must be. That must be my purpose.” He said with a smile.
Tony shook his head, “I can’t see anything...” He said, looking over at Steve and still seeing the light from the hallway cast those wing-like lights over him. “Though, the way you’re sitting, it looks like you’ve got wings.” He mused.
Steve tilted his head slightly, “They are wings Tony… You know, all this time, I’d forgotten, I’d thought I was having a dream but… I really am an angel.” He said. There was an inflection of disbelief in his voice, as though he couldn’t fully comprehend the fact that he was a soldier of God. But it explained a lot; like those flashes where he would have wings and the flashbacks where he would envision himself in the clouds. It seemed somewhat surreal to actually say that he was an angel, but now that he knew Tony was one too he could openly confess such things, that aside, he would have probably told Tony anyway. They had a special relationship, one where they could tell each other anything in the world.
Chapter 3: Denial
Tony couldn’t help but laugh, he didn’t know if the lack of sleep was making him imagine things, but this just seemed stupid. He was never the religious type, nor had he ever been. He was raised in a home where science was religion. Faith was considered naïve; there was only room for facts and figures. But Tony never had much faith, considering that has one hell of a tragic past. There was nothing to believe in but himself, and even so, he only believed in himself half of the time. That’s why he loved having Steve next to him. He had confidence already, but that was usually overcompensation for his lack of self-belief. Steve was the one that taught him how to slowly build up his self-belief and taught him so much more. In fact, when he was a child he used to read Captain America comics to make him feel better. In a way his faith, his idol was the one providing him with the confidence to hold his head up high and walk through another day, despite all of the problems he was going through. Many people used to say that it was his reactor that kept him going, that was true from a physical perspective but from his heart, it was Steve that kept him going. He would stand by Steve’s side in return and follow him to hell if need be, because that’s how much he respected him. Not only because he admired him, but also because he felt indebted to him and even more… He loved him. But there were some things even Tony Stark was afraid to admit in fear of rejection. But even if he would follow him to the edge of the world, there are some words that pure common sense has a tendency to counter, and claiming that the Captain as well as himself were angels was something that he would certainly reject. Angels didn’t exist, fact.
“I think you’re lacking sleep there, soldier.” He reiterated
“Listen, I know it sounds crazy, but you need to believe me Tony.” Steve said, imploring Tony for at least a little understanding, consideration or even belief.
“And you need to believe me, you know even super soldiers need to sleep, maybe not as often as normal people do but-”
“Please Tony… How can I… I don’t know how I can prove it to you.” He said, as Steve spoke his wings began to droop a little. Tony squinted again, seeing the beams of light behind Steve suddenly lower, as though they were moving according to his mood. The more disappointed Steve was in Tony’s lack of belief the lower the lights seemed to go, as though they were trying to envelop him to comfort himself- as though Steve was wrapping his own wings around himself.
No, Stark, they’re not wings, it’s just light. Steve’s not an angel.
“I don’t know how you can either, come on Steve, you know I’m a man of science. I wasn’t raised like you…”
“That’s got nothing to do with it. You just… Please, believe me. I can’t tell anyone but you, you’re the angel, you’re like me. I don’t know what happens when angels tell humans that they’re angels…”
“So now you’re saying I’m not human?”
“No, listen, you’re an angel, you just… You must’ve lost faith…”
“Don’t preach to me.” Tony snapped. He’d hated religion for a while. He was accepting of others beliefs but when people tried to push them on him, that’s when he started to get agitated.
“I’m not, I’m just trying to tell you the truth-” Steve pleaded, watching Tony get to his feet. His eyes once more drifted to the damaged wings that seemed to trail on the floor as he walked.
“Stop it Steve, stop talking nonsense. You’re tired, I’m tired, that’s it, that’s that, leave it at that will you?” Tony said, rubbing his temples as he turned and looked at Steve, who had this strange look upon his face. It seemed sad, depressed, his eyes even slanted like a sad puppy as he lowered his wings. It was then he began to doubt himself, was he really talking nonsense? Steve glanced to the side as he started thinking about whether he should’ve just kept quiet. A man who stands for speaking up, no, he was right in what he did.
“I’m not talking nonsense I’m telling you the truth.” He said, getting up and placing his hands on Tony’s shoulders to hold him still, staring into his eyes again. His palms rested on Tony’s bare shoulders, feeling how warm his skin was.
“Steve, put yourself in my shoes, would you believe it if I walked into your room and said that I was an angel?”
“Yes… I mean, well… It’d be different…” That slip of the tongue when he had first answered the question.
“Yes?” Tony asked, tilting his head up slightly to look at Steve, arching his eyebrow. Of course he’d catch Steve out on his initial answer.
“I just…” He blushed as his eyes instantly went to the floor, purposely avoiding eye contact.
“What? Spit it out Cap.” Tony said, but he couldn’t help but smile slightly, even though he was trying his best to mask it. Did Captain America really say he could pass off as an angel?
“You’re pretty angelic when you want to be.” Steve said, moving one of his hands from Tony’s shoulder to scratch the back of his head nervously.
“Oh am I? People often say I’m devilish but I’m fine with being an angel.” He said with a coy smirk, moving closer to Steve and looking up at him. They’d always go through the same routine; they’d get really close, particularly whenever Tony spotted Steve blushing. It was an adorable trait of his that Tony loved to exploit and tease him over. But he’d only do this when they were alone, because in actuality, he did want it to go a step further but it was up to the Captain to make the first move; traditionally resulting in Steve blushing and pulling back, but that never stopped Tony from trying, in fact he enjoyed it too much to resist it.
“No, those wings, you better believe it pal, you’re an angel.” Steve replied as he attempted to swallow down his nervousness, though his bright pink cheeks were making it far too obvious as Tony stood so close to him that their chests almost touched. His wings fluttered and even the tips of the feathers turned pink. Tony noticed right away how the light seemed to go a strange red around Steve and pursed his lips in thought.
“I’m still not buying it Steve.” He said in an unimpressed tone.
“How can you deny these?” Steve muttered as he finally plucked up the courage to reach over, trying to touch Tony’s broken wings, though the moment he did he was enveloped in darkness.
Chapter 4: Fallen From Grace
Steve found himself in a dark room, a small child sat in front of him playing with a couple of toys, mainly sets of little cars, he had about three of them. The curtains were closed but it was as bright as day outside and there was shouting outside too, but that came from the hallway. The boy continued to play quietly,
“Uh… Son, do you mind telling me where I am?” Steve asked as he knelt down to talk to the child, confused as to where he was and how he got there. But suddenly his wings were more opaque to his own eyes, the tips bending as he looked around, confused.
The boy didn’t answer, he just continued playing.
“I’m sorry but I’m lost and…”
“Shhh…” The little boy said, scooting over to Steve and placing his index finger over Steve’s lips, cutting him off. “Papa doesn’t like it when we talk loudly.” He was surprisingly coherent for someone who looked around five or six years of age.
“Sorry.” Steve whispered as he shrugged a little, his wings fanning out, “You see, I’m lost and…”
“You’re an angel.” The boy pointed out, looking up at Steve’s wings, “Papa says that there’s no such thing as angels. Why do you have wings on your back mister? What’s it like to fly? One day I’m going to fly too. I’ll fly far, far away.”
“I’ll fly so high in the sky that no one can hurt me. I’ll take Jarvis with me too. We’ll fly away from here.” He said with a firm nod.
That instant Steve realised who he was talking to. The name Jarvis, the house he was in, it looked so familiar. It was Tony’s old house that he’d shown him, and of course, Jarvis was his old butler and best friend. The little boy in front of him was Tony, though he should’ve recognised him by his short black hair and large blue eyes. He had such an adorable chubby, round face, button nose and was wearing a Captain America shirt that seemed oversized for him, but he seemed happy in it, with little black formal trousers and sneakers.
The little boy stared up at Steve and smiled brightly, getting up from his toys and running over to a small chest of drawers, gesturing for Steve to come over. Steve rose to his feet and walked over to Tony, watching as the boy pulled out his bottom drawer, pulling out all of his socks and then pulling off a false bottom on the drawer, and then from the false bottom, getting out a Captain America action figure and holding it up to Steve.
“It’s you!” He said proudly, “I got all of them. They’re mine. They’re my favourite.” He said, hugging it close to his chest. Steve gave him a soft smile in return, ruffling up Tony’s hair.
“Well, I never knew you were such a big fan of me, Tony.”
Tony’s eyes lit up the moment Steve said his name, “I knew you’d come.” He said, looking down at his action figure and moving the arms up and down before hugging it close to his chest, “Are you here to save me?”
Steve blinked, “Save you from what?”
Tony was just about to open his mouth when a man burst through the doors; if he used a little more force he probably would’ve broken the handle. “Anthony!” He yelled, “What are you doing? Why are you talking so loudly?!”
Steve recognised the man that stood before him. It was Howard Stark, Tony’s father, engineer extraordinaire.
Tony quickly shoved the figure back into the drawer and put the false bottom over it before Howard had the chance to walk over to him. His eyes filled with fear and he backed into his chest of drawers, knocking over the lamp that was balanced on it and flinching the moment that the bulb shattered upon impact.
Howard loomed over him, “You stupid boy! I ask for one thing, and that’s silence, but no, you can’t do that can you? You can’t do one simple thing! Who do you think you are Anthony? Talking to yourself like that, are you crazy, do you want me to send you to a nut house?!” He inched closer, his breath reeking of whiskey.
Steve’s eyes darted from Tony to Howard, quickly standing in front of Tony in defence, “Now listen mister-”
It wasn’t any use; Howard seemed to reach through Steve and grabbed Tony by the collar of his shirt, yanking him forward and off his feet.
Steve gasped and looked back at Tony, frantically trying to grab Howard’s wrist, but it was as though he were a hologram, going through him. Hell, he couldn’t even be seen by the man he was trying to defend Tony from.
Tony looked at Steve pleadingly, but as he was raised closer to his father that Steve spotted Tony’s small little wings. They were grey in colour which was highly unusual for a young angel, and they flapped violently as Howard spat nothing but verbal abuse at him, dropping him back to the floor after a torrent of insults. Steve stared helplessly, “Stop, stop it damn it!!” He yelled, the lights flickering as he yelled louder. He couldn’t bear to see Tony being abused like this, he hated bullies, he hated them with every bone in his body.
Tony’s eyes welled up with tears, but it was as though he was trying so very hard to restrain them from flowing. No child should ever have to hold their tears back like that, Steve thought to himself. His eyes were fixed on Tony with concern, kneeling down next to him, “Tony… I’m sorry, Tony I am… Please… I wish I could help you…”
“You’re nothing but a disappointment, boy, and you always will be.” Howard yelled as he was suddenly distracted by the flickering of lights. “You’d this being one of the most high-tech houses in the world that the god damn electrics would work!” He growled in frustration, getting to his feet and storming out, slamming the door behind him.
Tony curled up on the floor, bursting into tears the moment his father left, and it was that very moment that the small grey wings faded and turned black.
“Tony…” Steve said, wrapping his arms around the boy to try and console him.
“You said you would protect me… Please protect me from him… Please… Please Captain America…” He pleaded between sobs, reaching with a shaky hand toward the drawer and pulling the figure out again, hugging it to his chest. “You promised…”
“Tony… Tony I promise you, I’ll do everything I can, you’re my everything, you are…” He said, hugging him tighter, but Tony didn’t really seem to react. He carried on sobbing.
“Tony..?” Steve asked.
“Captain America… Come back… Please…” Tony whimpered, cuddling the figure.
“I’m here Tony, I’m right here.” Steve reassured him.
“Please come back… Save me from him, please…”
“Tony… I’m… I’m here… Don’t you see me? I’m right here.”
The little boy continued to repeat his pleas whilst he moved under his bed, hiding there.
Tony couldn’t see Steve any more, it’s like in that very moment with his father’s words, he had fallen from grace, fallen from his father’s eyes. He’d become a fallen angel, and even prior to that his wings had become dark in colour, probably due to previous and similar situations to the one he had witnessed.
The darkness began to reappear from the shadows that were in the room, and as much as he tried to struggle this time, it managed to engulf Steve once more.
Chapter 5: Cascading
Steve was back in the room that he had started in with the strange dark shadows fading back and retreating into Tony’s shadowy wings. It was as though he had never left; Tony was in the same spot and was staring at him with exactly the same expression as he was before the trip. The truth was that he was overwhelmed by what he had just witnessed – seeing him being manhandled like that, and it clearly wasn’t the first time either. It caused his body to quake in sadness just thinking about it. This was Tony’s past, something that he had been hiding and after this, it was made apparent why. Steve wouldn’t want to relive anything like that, that’s why he kept his past to himself too. He did know his fair share about abusive parents too; his father was extremely abusive toward his mother, in fact, that was one of the reasons that he wanted to grow up to protect people, to protect them against abuse, against bullying.
His arm was quivering from the pent up rage and helplessness and straight away he threw his arms around Tony, pulling him close into his chest. There was a little clink when his dog tags that hung from his shirt hit the metal rim of the reactor.
Tony’s eyes widened suddenly, just a second ago he was mocking Steve and his ideas, well, not mocking, more disagreeing and now he was being held in a close embrace. After his nightmares he needed it, but he was curious as to what the circumstances were for the sudden display of affection, not that he was complaining; Steve’s chest was so warm, his breathing was soft as was the material of his shirt.
“Steve, what’s this for?” He couldn’t help but ask.
Steve held him close, not even hesitating for a moment as his grip tightened, his hands held against Tony’s skin.
“I just… Well, I’m not going to lie to you, your wings… I touched them and they’ve shown me why they’re like that.” Steve muttered, shutting his eyes as he braced himself for the possible consequences of him blurting out the truth like that.
“Like what?” Tony asked, drawing his head back hesitantly from Steve’s chest to look up at Steve, who did the same.
“They’re… Really dark, damaged… they look broken.” Steve said as he delivered the sad news, genuinely looking heartbroken.
For wings that he didn’t really believe in, Tony was saddened that they were broken. Was he really getting upset over figments of Steve’s imagination?
“Tony, I’m… I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you, I’m sorry.” Steve said, proceeding to resume his position that he was in, resting his chin on Tony’s shoulder and hugging him tightly, feeling no protest from the man he held in his arms.
“Protect me? From what?” Tony asked as his eyes remained widened, slowly raising his arms and awkwardly patting Steve on the back. What else was he supposed to do? Steve seemed so distraught for some unknown reason so the least he could do was try and comfort him a little.
“From him… From everything.” He blurted out.
Tony’s eyes widened with a snap, his mouth opening in pure shock, “Why are you saying this?” He asked in a slightly more aggressive tone. He hated when his father was brought up in any conversation, and it did indeed take him off guard.
“Because Tony… I’ve seen what he’s done to you, he’s hurt you, he’s the cause of your wings being like this.” Steve explained, trying to keep Tony in his grip when it was clear by Tony’s hand dropping from patting his back, that he wasn’t impressed at the mention of his father.
“I don’t want pity, Steve.” He replied with a low voice.
“Tony I want your wings to be normal again; I want to take you up there with me, up to those gates.” He said, pulling back and opening his eyes, staring into Tony’s wide sapphire eyes.
“You need to stop this nonsense.” Tony said, gritting his teeth slightly as he pulled away, giving Steve a glare which hurt him, it caused his wings to fold around him even more.
“I’ve seen it first hand, the way you used to beseech me for help, when you thought I was just a superhero right? You were a kid…”
“Stop it.” Tony clenched his fists.
“I can prove it to you!” Steve said in a determined voice, “You had a false bottom on your drawer, you kept a figurine of me in there!”
Tony stopped, raising his hand to his face, covering his mouth as he turned his head to stare at Steve with disbelief, “How did you know that?”
“Because I saw… Tony, I saw it all…” Steve said, stepping up to Tony without thinking twice, touching his arm lightly and trying to meet his eyes again. “Do you believe me?”
“How?” He asked. Magic was never an explanation, even though he’d experienced it first hand with Doctor Strange and Thor being in their team.
“I told you, I’ve touched your wings, I witnessed it…” Steve replied sadly, rubbing his hand down Tony’s well-built arm slowly. Steve’s wings fanned out again before wrapping around Tony too, and it was then that the billionaire felt a strange warmth surge through his body. These strange rays of light were wrapping around him, which wasn’t physically possible for a start, and they were making him feel at ease, relaxed, they were soothing him.
“It doesn’t make sense, Steve.” He said softly, staring up at him as Steve stepped closer and returned to wrapping his arms around him, now with his wings too covering the both of them. “I… Always thought you were something else, I mean, heh, no one can be that perfect.” He quite openly said, immediately noticing Steve’s cheeks flush pink. “But me on the other hand…”
“I’m not perfect Tony, far from it. But trust me, you’re an angel, I just want you to believe that.”
“It’s hard to believe, in fact I don’t at all.”
Steve’s wings ached for a moment as he felt something change, his heart sinking was causing his wings to react accordingly.
Something strange was happening to his wings…
Chapter 6: Stricken
The Captain took a heavy breath as he felt one of the feathers on his wings drop and fall to the ground. It was a painful sensation, as though his heart had truly hit the floor and created this dull ache in his chest. The more Tony was doubting him the more it was hurting him, the more damaging it was to his heart as it instilled doubt in his heart and mind as to whether he was finally just losing it.
“What’s that?” Tony spotted as he pulled away from the embrace and picked up a glowing golden feather that slowly turned white before vanishing in his hand, “No… No way…” He said, turning his hand from front to back, seeing nothing. Shortly after he returned to Steve’s arms, placing his own around Steve. It’s not that he believed him, it’s just that the man was spouting out these things that no one else could have possibly known, not only that but that… Feather, that strange feather that seemed to just disappear right in front of him, now that was strange. He placed his head gently against Steve’s chest, enjoying the comfort and hence why he returned to it as quickly as he could. “Is this some sort of dream? With the wings and the feather and everything?”
“I guess my wings are shedding because… You don’t believe me, that’s the only plausible explanation.” He said sadly, though Steve was relieved to feel Tony’s cheek rest against his chest again. He always was eager to pull him into an embrace, especially after a heated argument.
“I can’t just magically make myself believe you, I’ve got beliefs too and angels aren’t one of them.” He said stubbornly, though internally he was heartbroken to say such a thing and watch Steve’s ‘wings’ malt because of him. Steve shouldn’t have expected any less of him. His wings shuddered again and another feather fell, this time Tony saw it appear and then disappear again. He squinted further and he could see the wings that were wrapped around him.
The question was, now that the wings became slightly more visible, was Tony actually starting to believe in him? Particularly now that he was seeing the feathers fall. Angelic grace was something that Tony didn’t believe in, so how could it sway his mind? The only reason that he was sitting here and witnessing this, enduring it all was because he loved to be in Steve’s company, no matter what they were doing. They could be arguing but at least he wasn’t alone. He hated being alone.
“I know you can’t…” The Captain said, gently rubbing Tony’s back. “I just wish you could trust me.”
“Hey hey now.” Tony said with a pout, looking up at Tony, “I do believe you, it’s just angels I don’t believe in. I trust you with all of my heart Steve, as cheesy as that sounds.”
Steve’s eyes softened and he felt the small sigh of breath escape Tony’s mouth, though his words were truly touching, Tony felt actions spoke much louder than words and he knew Steve was the same when it came to matters of the heart.
“You do?” Steve asked with a small inflection.
“I do, Steve… Well, with all that’s left of it that is.” He said, tapping his own reactor before letting his hand resume its rightful place around Steve’s small waist.
“You’ve got more heart than people credit you to have… You know that, right?”
Tony scoffed, “You’re the first person to say that, ever.”
“It’s true, I mean, well… You believe and trust me Tony, and now I’m just asking you for this one thing, just please believe me…” He said, reaching around and touching Tony’s wings again. This time Tony felt a strange sensation surge through his body, it was as though he was feeling someone dive into his thoughts and he looked up at Steve.
“I want to Steve… Really I do.” Tony’s blue eyes sparkled with sadness, looking up at him with a pleading face, his fingertips once more curling into the shirt of the man before him.
Steve shut his eyes, seeing thoughts and images pass through his mind, seeing cave wall surroundings and hearing screams of pain, blood, running, panting. So many more images, a dark haired woman who he’d known of just by her name – Rumiko, the way she broke Tony’s heart. The other countless lovers flashing by in a dizzy haze.
Meanwhile, Steve just seemed to just hold him, his eyes glowing faintly in the dim light and Tony stared at him with confusion. He seemed to be in a trance of some sort, and then suddenly he pulled back with a gasp. Moving his hands away from Tony’s back but his wings fluttering out and then curling around Tony once more. “Tony… Tony I…” He stuttered, leaning down and pulling him into an even tighter embrace than before, his face resting against Tony’s, rubbing their cheeks together. “Tony I’m so sorry… I’m sorry…”
Not this again.
He rolled his eyes, sucking on his teeth, “What’d you see this time, oh great angel?”
Steve chose to ignore his sarcasm; he could see how it must get agitating having someone snap in and out of a trance. “I just, I’m sorry for not being there, Tony, I really am.”
“No use apologising, the past is the past. I’m a futurist Steve, I thought you would’ve realised that by now.” As annoyed as he was, the feeling of Steve’s soft breath skimming over his cheek made his voice sound softer, it made his heart flutter. Steve was being so touchy today, not that Tony was complaining in the slightest. Maybe today was the day. Maybe it was time to let the super soldier know how he’d felt all this time, throughout all these years. But what was there to say and how would he phrase it?
Steve, all this time, I’ve loved you, but you know… You’re as straight as a ruler so…
No Tony don’t be stupid, don’t put your heart on the line, not after everything… Don’t ruin what you have. This is the closest person you’ll ever have to a friend.
Steve gently rubbed his cheek against Tony’s affectionately before pulling back to look into his eyes, hovering inches away from his face, “Please Tony… Just let me heal you…”
Tony swallowed hard as he could help but scan the worried face in front of him, so close to him, those pink bright lips, indented chin, golden hair that continued to shimmer in the very little light that continued to peek through the door that was very slightly ajar, “How?” He asked meekly. Although he didn’t believe him, the man seemed so persistent, so why not indulge him a little?
Chapter 7: Impulse
Steve stared into the dark sapphire eyes of Tony Stark, trying to convince him that he was an angel, which they both were. Tony’s wings raised a little as he stared back at Steve,
“How..?” He asked again, “I trust you Steve but… What good is it going to do?”
“You can see my wings… I know you can.”
“I see blurs, Steve, it’s the light, its deflection – simple science can explain…”
Steve fluttered his wings, letting them flap as they curled around Tony again, raising them so a feather brushed along Tony’s cheek – the other side of his face, not the one that he was rubbing with his own cheek.
Tony felt the warmth touch his face and he shut his eyes in bliss, “How are you doing that..?” He asked in a relaxed tone.
“You can feel my wings… See, only other angels can feel each other’s wings…” Steve explained, drawing off what he could remember being told during his ‘dream’ of being in limbo.
“See, not everything can be explained by science.” Steve said, continuing to stroke Tony’s jawline with the tip of his wings. “Hold your hand up, try and touch them.”
Tony looked at him, giving Steve a hesitant look before unravelling his fingers from Steve’s shirt and reaching up to touch the light that surrounded Steve, it was strange; he could feel more than just a warm light. He felt soft, delicate strands that seemed to move with Steve’s breathing.
“That’s impossible… I mean… I’ve seen them before but… I thought… This is impossible!” Tony continued with a stutter, his eyes darting along each strand that seemed to materialise even further as he touched it.
“You’ve seen them before?”
“Well… The light… Sometimes… When you saved me a couple of times before, I guess they were particularly bright when… Well… The Red Zone, when you’d saved me there, then I returned the favour…” He shook his head, “And here I thought it was me being delusional from all the toxins in the air.”
“Well, I suppose they were real, but the truth is that I didn’t know. I thought it was a dream, so I’ve not been able to see them personally – only in my dreams.”
“Wait so… Who else can see them? I don’t get this whole angel thing, forgive my lack of knowledge.”
It was extremely rarely that something was beyond Tony Stark’s comprehension, so it was a pleasure for Steve to explain, “From what I can remember, from my dreams, only fellow angels can see them. And according to my mother’s stories; the more faith you have, the more you can see them.”
“Then how can I ..? When I don’t believe in angels?”
“Maybe it’s because you want to, deep inside.”
Tony’s eyes drifted to the floor again and he tucked in his lower lip, “You know, I stopped believing in that stuff…” There was no point expanding when Steve apparently knew.
“I know but I guess angels can’t forget their roots, they can’t lose faith completely because they know that there’ll always be someone to save them, like a feeling in their heart that they can’t explain.” Steve’s hand drifted to Tony’s cheek and he held it lightly, his palm pressed against the man’s velvet skin.
He’d thought he lost all hope when he was searching for a true meaning, a true purpose at the bottom of a bottle. Now there Steve was, not only saving him from his fate, from drowning his sorrows and sins, he was trying to give him this hope. As his hand continued to glide along the ‘wings’ he felt them solidify into proper feathers, feeling the soft touch of each one tickle his skin. Suddenly his heart felt a lot lighter. The Captain America of his dreams, his hero, was stood before him with his wings fanned out, just as he’d imagined. Finally, after all these years, someone was finally here to save him from himself, from the harsh world that had hurt him so.
It was strange to feel this overwhelmed with emotions over something that felt so surreal. He knew he would wake up and this would be a dream, in fact that was his worst fear, that this moment would end. He was drowsy already and probably drunk on tiredness, but as long as it felt real, that’s all that mattered.
At that moment he didn’t think of holding back, if this was a dream he’d go for it. Steve always was so perfect, and now his mind was creating this illusion that he was an angel. How stupid. But he thought to embrace it while he could, slowly letting his hands move from Steve’s wings to the back of his head, stroking the spikey tufts of hair. Internally he questioned himself, how could this man make him believe in angels in such a short period of time? Probably because he was one. Because all this time he’d done nothing but try and save him and look out for him when no one else did. It was then he realised how better his life had become once this ‘angel’ had fallen in front of him, always answering his calls. Even that very night, Tony was suffering from nightmares and in he walked, accompanied with a golden shine around him like some sort of God. There was a reason that Tony was deeply in love with Steve, and it wasn’t just because of his Greek-God-like looks. It was because he had a heart of pure gold. And there he was hurting him, disbelieving him, making his beautiful wings fade away. No. He couldn’t let that happen. He couldn’t lose this, not when they’d come so far together.
“What is it Tony?” He asked with a curious blink.
“Steve, do you really want to know the truth?”
“I always do Tony.”
“I…” His body went numb, feeling his heart thud, able to hear it echo in his ears.
Steve’s azure eyes focused on the man that clutched to him, feeling his fingertips graze through his hair. Tony fell still and without knowing his wings lifted even more. The Captain was unsure why, but Tony’s mood seemed to have lifted from before. Perhaps it was when he touched his wings and felt that they were real, maybe that gave him faith. Either way, it was much better to see that faint smile grace his face rather than the scrutinising scowl.
“What is it Tony?” Steve asked gently.
It was now or never.
Chapter 8: Realisation
His heart felt as though it was about ready to jump right out through his throat.
Do it, Tony.
Tony leaned up and pressed his lips against Steve’s. If this was a dream then there was no harm, and it must’ve been a dream – with angels not being real and all. The kiss would make it perfect, especially since he’d been dying to do it for so long, afraid of being judged or pushed back, or that it would even ruin their friendship. ‘Dream Steve’ was irrelevant though.
Steve’s eyes shot wide open, his cheeks going pink the moment that he felt the soft touch to his lips, the gentle slick feeling. His lips were warm and tasted ever so faintly of cherry whilst he himself smelled of sweet watermelon, the type he would eat on a hot summer’s day after a hard day’s work.
Slowly, Tony pulled back and opened his sapphire blue eyes, staring up at Steve with intense curiosity and wondering himself whether he would be awoken by the sound of the others barking at him to wake up, or Pepper scolding him due to being late to yet another meeting.
Steve was in shock. Of course he was in shock, Tony was kissing him. But it only made his heart race as he moved forward; locking his lips with Tony the instant that he pulled away. The short gap of time made him realise how cold his lips were without that warm touch against them.
To Tony, the kiss felt so real, so vivid. Once more he repeated internally that he didn’t want this dream to end, as strange as it was. Eventually he pulled back, gasping for air and looking at the Captain’s flushed cheeks.
“What was that?” Tony asked, raising one of his sharply trimmed eyebrows.
“I… It was…” Always flustered after doing anything remotely expressive, Steve took in a deep breath as he tried to calm himself down. “… A kiss?”
“I… I know it was a kiss but…” Once more he was at a loss for words, only with Steve. There was something about that kiss, something deeper and more meaningful than any other kiss he had felt in his life. It reminded him of those cliché cartoons where one person would kiss the other and suddenly hearts and rainbows would surround them, with birds singing and happiness filling the air. Well, if that could happen in real life, it would’ve happened that very second. Real life… Was this real? He questioned once more, was he really dreaming or was this all real? It couldn’t have been, not with those huge golden wings fluttering around him, watching the fathers change along with Steve’s skin tone to match the rosy red of his cheeks. It didn’t match up, it didn’t have the extremes his dreams usually would have, it seemed too normal – all asides from the wings. He stepped back a little, wincing as he stepped on a loose screw from one of his gadgets that he was working on earlier, and he winced with pain, suddenly falling back on the bed, out of Steve’s grip and looking at the small cut that formed on his sole as it started to bleed. He rubbed it, eyes narrowing as he cursed himself for being so careless. It was a real injury, he was bleeding, he’d felt pain. He was awake. This wasn’t a dream.
It dawned on him.
Did I really just kiss Steve Rogers?
He stared up, his eyes filling with shock as he scooted further back on the bed.
The moment that Tony stepped away the warmth was lost in his arms, feeling the man skim against his wings as took his steps back and then eventually fell on the bed due to his injury. His wings slumped slightly, already missing him being so close.
“Tony… What happened, are you okay?” He asked.
Tony didn’t reply, he just stared at his foot then back up at Steve, “I… I really kissed you?” He asked.
“Yeah, silly.” Steve said with a chuckle, stepping closer to him with his wings fluttering happily at the statement and the wide dark blue eyes that stared back at him.
“I’m sorry…” It was very rarely that Tony ever apologised for his actions, but now he was overwhelmed by pure embarrassment. But knowing Steve actually kissed him back, that… That confused him. Did Steve really feel the same way about him?
Chapter 9: Proof
Steve seemed gentle, his expression was soft, something that Tony rarely saw outside of their own personal meetings, in fact, the more he thought about it, the more he realised how light hearted Steve was around him and only him. Of course, Steve was one to always follow his heart despite the consequences. He knelt down by the bed and took Tony’s foot, frowning at the injury.
“You’re so careless.”
His fingertips touched the wound, wondering that now he had finally remembered that he was an angel, whether or not he would gain special powers, angelic powers, like the ones his mother used to tell him about. She used to say that angels could heal anyone, anything, and for many years as he sat at his sickly mother’s bedside he used to pray for angels to come.
Tony just flinched in return, palms placed on the sheets of the fine silk sheets, his grip tightening once he felt the skim. It was difficult to try and keep his knee still, to prevent it from jerking backwards but still he stayed.
Steve’s eyes remained focused, his wings set back as he tried to concentrate. His hand hovered carefully over the wound whilst Tony stared, mesmerised.
“It’s not going to work…” Tony spoke softly.
“Believe it will and it might.”
“You speak like you’re straight out of those fairy tales…” Tony sighed. His heart was still pounding from the kiss, his lips yearned for more but there was a hesitation, a pain in the back of his mind that he feared. He feared rejection, he feared being left alone after destroying what he had with Steve.
“You know Tony, there is a land free from pain. You just have to fight to get to it, you need to believe with all the strength you have that you can push through it all…”
Tony’s steely eyes shut, inhaling deeply. He felt a shiver course up his spine the closer Steve got to him, a warmth befell him once more and when he shut his eyes, it was as though he could see a bright light. Reaching toward it mentally and then there was a blissful peace, it was something he had never felt before. Drifting in the air as his heart felt weightless, his mind with not a question nor murmur, just silence, just bliss.
“I kissed you…” He whispered out loud.
Again, Steve’s feathers turned a pale pink and shuddered as he smiled, observing the relaxed state of the man that lay still on the bed. The gentle rise and fall of his chest made Steve want to loom closer, he urged to feel it. He wanted to feel him. He wanted to hold him again.
It wasn’t about him making Tony feel secure; it was about Tony making him feel secure.
“Tony, if you lay like that, I can’t see your wings. They’ll be flattened out.”
“W-what?” He replied with a laugh, opening his eyes from such a relaxed state. He had a smile gently decorating his face, so soft and naive. For that moment when they crossed eyes again, Steve met the eyes of the child he had seen in his memories.
“Your wings will be beautiful once you start to believe.”
“If you’re implying I’m an angel, still, after all of this, you’re wrong, Steve.” He stared with an enforced intensity, speaking with such conviction. “I am no angel. I wish I was. If I was I could do so much, I could help so many people. But these are works of fiction…”
He was silenced by the way that Steve tilted his head down, the wings visibly drooping.
“Wait, no… I didn’t mean.” He held out his hand. “Can I—Steve, what can I do for you, what can I do to show you that I know what I am?”
He shook his head, watching a feather fall to the ground. Tony’s eyes were fixated on it throughout the entire decent.
He swallowed thickly, feeling guilty. How could he hurt him? How could he hurt this beautiful, loving creature? For so many years he had wished for a guardian, staring at statues and wishing one would come to him, and now one had and he was hurting him, pushing him away like he did to everyone he ever cared for.
“Can I hold you again?”
The question arose out of the blue and was certainly not what Tony expected to hear.
Silence, then a short nod followed.
Steve reached for the dark haired man, gently tugging him into his arms and raising him up. There was that brightness again, the wings of the Captain spread around him. Tony’s eyes drifted to his own foot that rest on the bed, only to see that it had completely healed. There wasn’t a drop of a blood, not a single trace that there had ever been a wound in the first place.
“H-how did you..?”
“You trusted me, that’s how. For that moment when you let me touch your wound, your foot, you trusted me.”
“What if I continue to believe you? Hang off every word you say?” He asked, knowing for well it was easier said than done.
“Then I’ll heal you completely, every wound, every pain, every nightmare – I promise you, I’ll take them all away.”
“Do you promise?”