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The Perfect Moment

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He knew that escape had been a longshot. Running through the forest in his stocking feet with nothing but a stick for a weapon. Stupid really, but since when could Tony Stark sit tight and wait for a rescue? This was not his first kidnapping rodeo after all. But this time he really had something to lose. At the end of the day he didn’t care what happened to him so long as he got Steve out.

The wolves surrounded them, their eyes aglow in the dark of the forest. But they stood together, stood strong; Tony and Steve against the world. Except Steve, his tiny, scrappy, “I can do this all day” Steve, was a wolf! One minute, Steve’s small but unshakable form was standing at his back, looking frail and battered from captivity but still full of fight. (Once Steve is safe, these guys are going down!). The next minute, he was a huge, fiercely protective (yeah that hasn’t changed) wolf, in a somehow-familiar looking blue cowl.

Together, that was the point of coming here after all, but not in this crazy back-assed way. Just him and Steve, spending time together. It was supposed to be a romantic getaway, to a sweet little New England town.

He’d even found the perfect place, it seemed like it was meant to be. He’d never been here before (and he’s definitely not coming back). He chose it because of the name, “Starkesboro,” how could he resist that? After all, he’s the guy who inherited the eponymous family business and turned it into one of the biggest tech companies on the planet. He’s used to having his name on it, on everything.

Tony had planned a surprise, just not this surprise. Tony’s plan was to ask Steve to marry him.

It was coming up on their first anniversary together, but who was Tony kidding, he’d known from the minute he met Steve that he was the one. How could he not fall head over heels for that skinny bundle of righteous fury who’d cornered him after a press conference and told him off for plotting to destroy his neighborhood. It was those eyes, deep as the ocean and sparkling with intensity. Oh Tony was a goner.

The plan had been to level the whole block and turn it into a shiny new SI satellite office in Brooklyn. But Steve cared. That’s just Steve all over. He cared about the multigenerational families who had made that ramshackle block their home. He cared about the architectural integrity of the community where he’d located his little one-man office. He got Tony to listen (Tony could spend a lifetime just listening to Steve), mesmerised him with that earnest, compelling (and so sexy) voice. He told him the stories that made that block a special place, crumbling but held together by duct tape and love.

Steve talked Tony round to considering a project that kept the look of the building, and integrated dedicated low-income housing for the building’s residents into the mix. “Considering” -- who was he kidding? Steve cared so much that there was no way Tony could say “no” to him (there still isn’t). He changed course, brought this passionate and talented young architect in on the project. It became something they dreamed up together. And somehow in the process, Steve came to care for Tony too. That was the real surprise. That, yeah, that was everything to Tony.

So here they are some eighteen months later. Tony has the ring. Tony has the speech he’s rehearsed and rehashed only a thousand times. (“Tony, relax! He’s going to say yes,” Pep’s told him at least a thousand more.) He’d wasted all that energy being nervous when maybe he should have been scared. Not of Steve, never of Steve. Even as a wolf (a wolf what the hell!) his eyes say, “Love you, got your back.” But this whole situation was terrifying. And Tony still hadn’t gotten up the courage to pop the question. Escape, proposal, surprise lycanthropy, that’s a lot to figure out even for a Tony Stark day.

The welcome to Starkesboro sign declared it, "A nice place to live," but they could tell something was weird about the place from the very beginning. They rolled into town, intentionally driving the least conspicuously flashy car from Tony’s collection. You don’t head off for a quiet getaway to ask your one true love to marry you in a car that brings the paparazzi along for the ride. He didn’t want to attract the attention of the local Twitter-happy citizen armed with a Stark Phone either (damn him for making social media posting so seamless).

Yep, inconspicuous was the plan. But it felt like everyone was watching them from the minute they popped into the little main street grocery to stock up for the week on their way to the house. I mean yeah, it’s not exactly high season in early March, but you’d think they’d never seen a tourist around these parts. They didn’t stare, not openly. But you could feel everyone’s eyes on you, like a predator sizing up its prey. And you sort of knew they were all thinking something at each other, like a pack. Even if no words passed between anyone they were communicating.

There was other weird stuff too. It wasn’t something you could confront, or even put your finger on. There was that guy on the vegetable aisle sniffing the air near Tony and Steve as they poked the tomatoes. The deli counter lady gave them this wolfish, sharp toothed smile when she handed over their sopressata. The cashier’s eyes had this strange red glow to them that Tony caught out of the corner of his eye when he approached the counter. It was gone once the kid started checking out their groceries while mumbling, “paper or plastic,” but they compared notes later and Steve had seen it too. Definitely odd.

But no worries. They weren’t here to socialize anyway. Tony had found them the cutest craftsman bungalow just off the main drag with a huge river rock fireplace. One bed, one bath, built-in window seat suitable for snuggling and a stocked bookcase on each end, what more did they need? It made a cozy little love nest, it should have been safe. He’d forgotten that safe was a luxury he’d never really had. It’s just that with Steve these past few years he’d felt it, felt safe for the first time in his insane life.

The weather didn’t help the overwhelming aura of gloom around town either. Hey, it’s late winter in New England, what did he expect? But that pervasive sense of doom; this seemingly idyllic village (at least that’s what the Airbnb photos portrayed) owned that all on its own once you took a closer look.

Grey dramatic clouds filled the sky, high enough to not be fog, and always seeming right on the edge of opening up with rain. They were just begging the two of them to pull on their parkas and boots and risk a short hike into the surrounding woods. Without leaves on the trees, the sky would feel close and if any light broke through the clouds it would be breathtaking. Even if they ended up soaked to the skin, they’d get the fun of rushing home in the downpour, piling into that clawfoot bathtub, and then crowding in front of a roaring fire.

Besides, it would be the perfect place and the perfect moment for Tony to ask that thing he’d been working up to. This was why he’d brought Steve here, after all. The sooner he made it happen the sooner they could move on to the celebratory sex and snuggle part of the week. Provided Steve said, “yes.” He’d say, “yes,” wouldn’t he? Somewhere inside Tony’s head Rhodey gave a long-suffering sigh.

As soon as they’d gone far enough into the trees that they couldn’t make out the last row of houses, the fog closed in. The creepy lighting and special effects people in this town were on it. It was damp, disorienting, and not at all romantic. It felt like the local wildlife was just out of sight, but watching all the same. He couldn’t see their eyes, couldn’t hear them moving; it was oppressively silent, but you felt them there, sizing up these two interlopers stumbling through what was decidedly their wood. Who wanted to stand still, much less go down on one knee here?

Still, Tony plowed on. He was convinced there must be a clearing ahead, just above the fog, with some sort of suitably amazing view for a proposal. He lived in hope anyway. Until they heard it: the unmistakable and uncomfortably close growl of a large animal. They were two city boys, through and through. Muggers no problem, but they had no idea what to do when faced with a wild animal except to dial animal control.

They froze in place and looked each other in the eye, both hoping it would leave them be and move on. After an uncomfortably long moment, there was another snarl, followed by the call of a wolf in the distance and the noise of something big moving off through the trees. That was enough to convince them to turn back. Good thing too, because right at that moment the sky opened up, and they were soaked to the bone by the time they made it back to the bungalow.

So much for the romance of the outdoors. Steve was just as freaked as Tony was, though twice as cold. Steve just doesn’t have the padding for a winter dousing. What was Tony thinking? Steve may have a Boy Scout-sized heart, but neither of them were the outdoorsy type, unless you counted their now-annual fall foliage walk through The Ramble in Central Park, followed by coffee and a wander through the New York Historical society. Yep, such the outdoorsmen, him and Steve.

No problem, Tony’s flexible, he can roll with the punches. That hot bath and the roaring fire would be just the right prelude to set the scene for a cozy fireside proposal. He just had to get his shivering love warmed through in the tub and everything would be back on track. Except, Tony being Tony, it couldn’t just work like that because there was no hot water! A quick look around told him that the access to the basement, where the boiler and the fuses would be, was locked tight. Tony could fix just about anything, but it was clear the owner did not want his guests mucking around with his equipment.

Right now, Tony needed to focus on warming up Steve. He fired off a quick text to the owner to get himself over here pronto and get it fixed, got Steve toweled down and into dry clothes, and then worked on starting a fire as Steve huddled in a blanket on the couch. He knows this about Steve, pretty much the one thing that stops his stubborn determination in its tracks is uncontrolled cold. He was sick a lot as a kid and catching a real serious chill just puts him right back in that place of hunkering down.

But fire, fire meant heat, and heat would turn this whole thing around. Tony had had the presence of mind to put the ring in his pocket when he changed out of his wet things. As soon as they were cuddling up together on the couch, drinking hot tea and watching the flame flicker with warmth, they would have a laugh, and feel the closeness that goes with having come through an adventure. Then it would be the perfect moment.

Tony knew this because he was pretty much the only person that Steve would let turn him around when he’s hit up against his physical limitations. For the rest of the world, Steve digs his feet in, refusing help and insisting he’s fine. Just leave him alone and he’s got it, when really what he’s going to do is push through (way past the point he should) until he can disappear into some hidey-hole. Then he’ll stew in his own juices about the unfairness of being stuck with a heroic soul and a less than fully robust body.

But not for Tony. Steve will let himself be vulnerable with Tony. It’s every bit as glorious to see as when he’s taking on the world, buzzing like a spitfire. And Steve will let Tony take care of him. This is why he knows in his heart, when he’s got the fire blazing, that he can just sit down next to Steve on the couch and curl him into his arms without being rebuffed. Steve relaxes into Tony as if he’s the only island in a storm, burrows into his larger, warmer frame, and sighs with content.

It doesn’t take Steve more than five minutes to warm through, and here comes that giggle at the ridiculousness of it all, from the wolves, to the rain, to the cold water, to his funk. The warmth of shared laughter is followed by a kiss that says everything that Steve isn’t saying. Tony’s the one with acute logorrhea in this relationship. Steve, while a man of few words on the feelings front, is the master of body language. In that instant, Tony knows without a doubt that he is loved.

The moment feels right. Tony clears his throat, “Steve, will…” But he’s cut off by the doorbell ringing. The fippin’ owner has timing! In bursts a red-faced, grey haired man (because of course he has a key). He’s all in a tizzy, apologizing profusely for the lack of hot water as he unlocks the basement with a rattle and a clank and heads down with his toolbox.

The moment is lost. They’re guys, they can’t have something being fixed right underneath them and not watch and “hmm” and all that. Well, Steve might just watch and “hmm” a lot. Tony will most certainly butt in with ideas as if he knows better than the guy trying to fix his own water heater. But what can he say? He’s a mechanical genius, so he actually does know better.

But Tony can also multi-task and it’s time for a new plan: nice restaurant, really nice restaurant. Granted, Starkesboro wasn’t Gramercy Park or the Flatiron, but Tony was pretty sure he saw a colonial style inn on the village green with what looked like a fancy-enough dining room. On the upside, a reservation for two without waiting months shouldn’t take a dropping of the Stark name out here. He could probably even get a reasonably secluded, candle lit table just by letting them know it was a “special occasion.” A quick Google search, a stealthy phone call, and his plan was ready to roll. Once the water heater was back in action he could get this show back on the road.

Within the hour, they thanked the abashed but triumphant owner and ushered him out the door while he was in the middle of saying something about enjoying the rest of their stay and, “don’t go into the woods.” Whatever, neither of them were planning on hitting that trail again anyway, thank you very much, not after the scare they’d had today.

Tony sidled up to Steve with a coy smile and told him about the dinner plans. It was getting late, no time for that soak in the tub. So, showers, suits, ring in the pocket, reminder to himself to breathe and Tony was all set to bag this one and only, amazing guy for good. Oh, and did he mention how incredible Steve’s lithe form looks in that tailored suit Tony got him for the Stark gala last fall?

The meal started out just perfect. Reasonable wine list for Steve and Fever-Tree for Tony. Traditional, sticks to your ribs, cold weather stews and pies with a historical flair. They had Indian pudding on the dessert menu, yum! Even the service was attentive without being in your face.

And Steve … Steve was absolutely perfect. As he sat relaxed across the table from Tony, his eyes were alight and his cheeks were warm. He wore that smile that he saved just for Tony, the one that said, “There’s nowhere I would rather be than right here with you.” Their conversation flowed effortlessly as they sipped their drinks and their meals arrived. God, he loved this man with every fiber of his being. Tony could feel everything slotting into place and he knew, just knew, that right between dinner and dessert would be his chance to act. He could do this.

By the time the dessert orders were placed (Steve chose Indian Pudding too, like I said, perfect!), the restaurant was emptying out and it felt even more intimate. Their eyes met as they each took a sip of the aromatic coffee that had just been poured for them. Tony’s hand tapped nervously on the pocket that held the ring, and he felt just a bit woozy. But why should he be nervous? He knew how he felt, knew what he wanted to say, was pretty sure that Steve would say yes. Heck, Steve might even have cottoned on to what Tony was up to by now, he had been clumsily working up to it for so long.

There was no reason for him to feel so queasy, he was almost swimming in it. He tried to center himself, just get the first words out. “Steve I… Steve?” Because this was not right, Steve looked queasy too. Did he know what was coming? Did he not want Tony to propose? The thought made Tony feel worse. But then Steve listed sideways just as Tony’s vision started to swim, and he knew this was not nerves. Something was very wrong.

He called for help, then kicked himself as he realized he didn’t like the look of the help and the way they grabbed Steve. He could see Steve trying valiantly to keep control. Always the fighter his Steve, but his coordination was shot. Tony’s anger surged as he watched them begin to drag Steve away. ‘No, no, no, no!’ The panicked thought, ‘I have to do something,’ ran through his brain at a fraction of the speed it needed to, just as he started to black out.

-----------------------

Tony came to on the floor of a windowless, unfurnished room. His head hurts like heck, feels like he’s got a pretty good shiner too. But his wrists are blessedly unrestrained. Guess they assume the chain around his ankle is sufficient. They’d taken his clothes and put him in some sort of sweats; taken everything, wallet, keys, phone, the ring! Steve!

Tony looked around in a panic. There was no sign of Steve. Steve’s health, when put to the test like this, was fragile at best. If whatever they had slipped into the coffees had been enough to put Tony under in about three minutes flat, what would it do to Steve? Worry filled his every pore and he let out a scream of frustration and rage.

Someone must have been listening for when he woke, because no sooner had he shut his mouth, than the door rattled and some thug came in to gloat. How did Tony know they were here to gloat? Like he said, not his first kidnapping by a long shot, and they always came in to gloat. They think they are there to intimidate you, to scare you into submission or something. But it’s really about them feeling in control, when what they actually are is in the middle of a giant clusterfuck of their own making.

Tony needs this moment because they always give away far too much information as they brag about their supposedly ingenious plans. Then they show all their weaknesses by just how desperately they try to intimidate you into passivity (the ones that hit you the hardest are the weakest, of course). Tony also knows that there are a million things that can go wrong with a kidnapping, and the kidnappers are as freaked out as he is. Tony can use all of this. If he pays attention he can become one of the things that goes really wrong (or build it).

This thug is feeble at best. “Be frightened, blah, blah, blah, you are worth a lot to us so don’t try anything, blah, blah, blah.” He’s clearly not their A-team, I mean he put the key ring in his pocket after opening the door and walking in the room. Tony’s sure he’ll be able to get out just by catching him off guard and knocking him out. No need to engineer a siege engine or a bomb with whatever is at hand, which is good because Tony can’t afford to blow this joint sky-high until he has Steve out and safe. Oh, and he has to suffer this goon’s manifest stupidity, at least until he lets slip what they’ve done with Steve.

Then Tony’s mind hones in on a key part of his diatribe. “Blah, blah, blah ... Not like that little guy you were with, all he’s fit for is the change.” Tony sees red, partially because how dare he talk like that about Steve, and partially because he doesn’t know what the guy means by “the change.” From the tone of his voice it can’t be good. It’s time for Tony to make his move.

When goons are all into their self-aggrandizing thing it’s not hard to catch them off guard. Tony hits him square in the jaw. The guy flies back into the door hard. On his way down to the floor, his head clips the doorknob, knocking him out neatly. Good thing Steve, the best strawweight boxer in Brooklyn during his high school years, taught Tony to land a punch. His hand will be feeling that one for days, but it’s worth it ‘cause it did the job.

The keys free the end of the chain attached to the floor, but not the cuff, so he’ll just have to hoof it with the thing clanking along. He spares a quick forlorn look for his bespoke suit, but speed is of the essence; all he has time to do is grab his wallet and the ring. They must have taken his phone to make the ransom call. Too bad, but having his phone would have made things almost too easy.

And how dare someone take his Ferragamos! Not to mention that being barefoot is a definite disadvantage. But there’s no way he can run in shoes the size of that goon’s feet, so barefoot it is for now. He’ll keep his eyes out for a size 10 thug to mug for some shoes. He hopes Steve is better shod than he is, because he’ll never find a goon with feet as small as Steve’s. He sincerely hopes that Steve is still alive and well, with feet and all, shoes or no shoes.

He realizes that he’s in the basement of a huge old house. He can tell by the familiar quality of the cement and the post and stem wiring that suspends a flickering lightbulb overhead, since he grew up in a brownstone mansion himself. He heads for the stairs, listening at the door before he steps out onto what must be the ground floor. Yep, huge creepy old Victorian mansion. Must be out in the woods, because all he can see through the windows is bare trees and that dense, creepy fog. If he could just find Steve, they could disappear into that fog. Not as good as a vehicle, but what are the chances he’ll find a second kidnapper who’s stupid enough to advertise the werabouts of his keys.

But all of this is moot if he can’t find Steve. The lights up here are flickering as well. There’s no storm outside, so something has to be drawing a lot of power. He can hear what sounds like electricity arcing from down the far end of the hall, and decides that’s his best chance. It opens onto a huge, dark room, could have been a ballroom, did they have balls in Starkesboro in the 1880’s? Didn’t seem like that happening of a place.

Then a flash of electricity lights up the room, and it’s not lightning coming from outside. It’s coming from a huge set of machines on the far side of the room. Tony’s heart stops, because in that split second of light he can see Steve, strapped to a table, still unconscious, and electrodes attached all over his pale, sunken chest. There’s no one here for Tony to grab by the throat and demand they tell him what they’ve done to Steve. As satisfying as that would be, their absence might give him the chance he needs to get Steve out unseen. As he rushes over to free him, he desperately hopes Steve is still alive.

“Steve Steve Steve, please wake up,” he says over and over like a prayer as he removes the electrodes and unbuckles the straps holding him down. Steve’s eyes open, and a wave of relief hits Tony like a flood. Tony touches every inch of him, checking he’s okay without ever looking away from Steve’s face as his unfocused eyes blink their way from confused, to frightened, to pained. Tony can tell the minute Steve recognizes him because his face lights up with a smile. He wants to kiss that smirk right off Steve’s face, but there’s no time for that. “Steve, are you alright? Can you get up? We have to get out of here!”

These are the kind of moments when the ‘Steve Rogers stubborn’ shines. Tony watches him dig into that deep well of inner strength that he keeps for just such an occasion, as he pulls himself up off the table and onto his feet (that have shoes on them, praise whatever deity will help them right now). Steve doesn’t answer any of Tony’s entreaties about if he’s okay, he just squares his jaw, growls, “Let’s go,” and heads for the door.

They make it outside. A quick visual survey shows no phone lines, no vehicles, and no barn or garage. So the woods it is. Whoever brought them here and hooked up Steve to that machine had left them here in the sole charge of the idiot Tony had taken out in the basement; arrogant kidnappers are the best. He and Steve are not waiting around for anyone to come back, thank you very much.

He’s got no idea where they are or which way is back to town, but Tony figures if they stay in the trees not too far from the road they’ll eventually find something. Here’s hoping the whole town isn’t in league with whoever it was that drugged and kidnapped them.

But that was just too naive of a hope. Because apparently the townsfolk are all werewolves, or at least enough of them to quickly track them down and surround them in the woods. There was no way these were your garden brand of timberwolf wolf. They were way too big, and those glowing red eyes, unmistakable in their intent, were just not natural. They were the same predatory eyes Steve and Tony had felt targeting them when they first came to town and he was pretty sure he recognized that hungry, sharp-toothed grin.

Tony grabbed a stick from the ground as Steve sunk into his fighting stance. They stood together, back to back. They weren’t going down without a fight. The odds were not in their favor in the least, but since when had that ever caused Steven Grant Rogers to back down? Tony was going to stand with Steve, no matter what. He felt the ring, heavy in his pocket, and he started to speak. “Steve, I’m so sorry, it’s all my fault we’re in this mess. In case we don’t make it out of this alive, I want you to at least know that we came here because I was planning to ask you to …”

But before he could finish his at death’s door declaration, the weirdest, most disturbing kind of crunching noise came from where Steve was standing at his back. He turned in a panic, still keeping one eye on the circling wolves. It was as if Steve was transforming, shifting, he didn’t know the word for it, but Steve was changing. Before Tony could get his head around what was happening, Steve was a wolf. A huge, grayish-brown wolf with a strap around his shoulders and his ears peeking out of some sort of blue cowl-like thing on his head. Tony was terrified, not because he thought Steve would turn on him, he’d never fear that. But Steve was not okay, he was a wolf! What had they done to him?! Tony had to get them out of here, had to get him somewhere where they could help to turn him back into his Steve.

But there was no time for self-recrimination. The wolves attacked, going straight for the soft target, which, for once, was Tony. He was sure he’d be shredded alive, but wolf Steve was like a fury. He pounced on any wolf that came near Tony, biting, growling and clawing, holding them at bay for what seemed like forever. But there were too many of them, and Tony caught his share of the claws aimed at them as he beat the wolves away with his feeble stick. It was a losing battle, but there was no point in standing down so they fought together, man and wolf, Steve and Tony to the last.

Just when Tony thought they couldn’t hold them off another second, an SUV barrelled into the clearing, lights blinding and horn blaring. A gunshot rang out and all the wolves scattered into the forest except Steve, who stood his ground next to Tony. They could just make out the silhouette of a man in the glare of the headlights. Friend or foe, they didn’t know, but they would take their chances rather than flee into the forest and face the wolves again.

The man stepped into the circle of light, and it was the owner of their little bungalow. “I thought I told you two city boys to stay out of the woods. Now look at you. Lucky I got here in the nick of time. Hop in and let’s get you out of here before they come back.” Tony wasn’t sure if it was the relief of being rescued, or the relief he felt as Steve transformed back into himself and collapsed into his side for a brief moment before dragging Tony into the car. All the same, Tony had never felt more relieved in his life.

No one said a word as their homeowner (was his name Mike? I think his name was Mike) and rescuer peeled out of there and raced down the road, away from the house where they’d both been imprisoned, and hopefully back towards safety. Steve and Tony held each other’s hand, staring at each other with stunned looks.

Finally, Mike broke the silence. “As soon as I get you back to the bungalow, you’ll need to pack up, hit the road and get away from Starkesboro as fast as you can. I’ll wait until you go, and follow your car until you’re out of their territory. They won’t touch you with me around, or in my house, and once you are out of their territory they can’t follow you. But first, you must have some questions.”

Some questions, Tony had no idea where to start. “So werewolves, that’s a thing? A real thing?”

“Yep” said Mike and Steve in chorus.

“There’s one thing I don’t understand.”

“Just one!” they both chorused again, this time in disbelief.

“I mean, werewolves, I’m a scientist but I’ve seen some pretty weird things in my life. I’ll just add this one to the list of ‘There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy,’ stuff and move on, so long as you can tell me Steve is safe and he’ll be okay going forward.”

“I think he’ll be just fine once he’s out of their territory,” says Mike, and that right there is the best news Tony’s heard all day.

“But what I want to know is what was the hat thing? It was blue and had an “A” on it. Steve wasn’t wearing it before he changed. I didn’t know that werewolves had fashion choices. It looked like something Captain America wore back in the 60’s when he was with the Avengers.”

“He was my grandfather,” Steve said softly. “He married and had a secret family, my mother and my Uncle Bucky, and now there’s me, his grandson. I know you’d never guess it with how small and feeble I am, but it’s the truth.

“Steve, why didn’t you ever tell me?”

“I promise it’s the only thing I’ve ever kept from you. I’ve wanted to tell you for a while now. I even rehearsed it, over and over in my head how to tell you. But I could just never quite find the right moment to say the words.”

The right moment, screw the right moment. This was Steve looking at him with so much love and so much worry that he’d broken something between them by keeping this secret. Screw the romance and the perfect words. Tony had to say it now before he lost the chance again. He reached for the ring miraculously still in his pocket and opened his mouth to speak.

“That explains a lot,” says Mike.

“Wait!” said Tony as he cut Mike off. “I want to know what it explains, but first there’s something I have to say to Steve that I’ve been trying to say for a while, and it can’t wait any longer.”

He looked Steve, his beautiful, brave, amazing Steve, straight in the eyes and began, “Steve… I … I … “ and then it rushed out of him like the wind all in a single breath, “Iloveyoumorethanlifeitself-willyoumarryme?”

And there it was, that smile that was just for Tony, the one that lit up Steve’s face as if it was the moon itself, soft, radiant and full of love. “Yes, Tony. Yes, I’ll marry you.” He gave Tony one of those ‘says it all without words’ kisses, only this one said even more. This one was the ‘this is for keeps kiss’ he’d always wanted, always dreamed about, always hoped for from Steve.

“Starkesboro had an infestation of werewolves once before.” Mike broke in, clearing his throat pointedly first. “They nearly turned the whole town. Once they turned them into wolves they had them under their control, animal minds and some magic stone and all that. Until Cap turned up, that was. He broke the control. Never knew why. Always assumed it was a serum thing. But you didn’t inherit the serum, did you son? So it must have been Cap’s indomitable spirit that spared him and you from their control.”

That right there was Steve all over, thought Tony. Because if anyone had enough unrelenting, stubborn assed, ‘you won’t break me’ spirit in him, it would be his boyfriend Steve. His finance Steve, he corrected himself in his head, and didn’t that sound perfect!