Tony growled and Steve couldn't help the laughter that burst out of his throat. The genius was surprisingly adorable when he was annoyed. Pushing gently, Steve slid out from underneath Tony and eyed the shirt and waistcoat on the floor. Not bothering to put either on, he headed for the door. Once there, he looked back over his shoulder at Tony, the genius still perched on the bed.
"Put on the suit," Steve said, keeping his voice low and gravelly. "Once we get back, well, I can take it off you again."
Tony groaned but got off the bed, not bothering to put his shirt on either. He followed Steve down to the lowest level where all their uniforms and equipment were kept. They were the first of the Avengers there, but they weren't alone for long. The others joined them quickly, one of Fury's helicopters bringing them back to the tower. Jane and Darcy had come with but they headed upstairs to wait out the coming battle.
Once everyone was geared up, the Avengers took of for Manhattan. Tony reached it first, his suit allowing him to fly faster than the others could. Once he reached the middle of the city, he could clearly see what Loki had done: the entire area was blanketed in a white mist and, once Tony dove down through it, snow covered the streets. Several people were frozen statues, ice covering them as they had moved about their daily lives. Tony could tell that they were still alive, their vitals registering lightly as if they were in some form of stasis.
"Yeah, Loki's definitely here," Tony reported. "This is not what I like to see when I think winter wonderland."
"Winter wonderland?" Thor repeated, confused. "I do not understand."
"It means he's turned the whole area into a frozen wasteland," Natasha said grimly, finally landing the helicopter she was flying in the middle of the street. "Did anyone survive this?"
"The mortals are all still alive," Loki's voice boomed at them, seemingly coming from everywhere. "For now. I want to play a game with you. Find me before the dawn comes and these mortals live. If not... well then, I spread my winter and claim this planet as my own."
Tony looked around, searching for the god and hoping to find him. That over-the-top pronouncement was actually rather terrifying, considering that Loki had enough power to do exactly as he threatened.
"Anyone see him?" Tony asked, flying over the streets and scanning the buildings.
"No, all I see are frozen people," Steve said, his voice frustrated. He was walking through a street alone as all the Avengers had spread out to look. "Hawkeye, you found a perch yet?"
"Just got one," Clint responded, shivering a bit. It was freezing higher up in the sky, but he could see most of the affected area from the roof he was on. "And no, I don't see Loki anywhere."
They continued to search, though everyone knew that it would take far too long to search all the rooms in every single building. Finally, as it was nearing dawn and the sky was starting to turn a dark gray instead of black, Tony hit on an idea.
"Hey, Thor," he said, coming to land on the street near the god. "Loki's a frost giant, right? So he's going to be colder than most people. Possibly even more than the surrounding area."
Thor nodded slowly at that, remembering how cool Loki's skin had felt whenever they had sparred or hugged or shaken hands. He wondered where Tony was going with this.
"So I should be able to track him using heat signatures," Tony said enthusiastically. He didn't wait for Thor to reply, just took to the sky again and had JARVIS turn on the infrared sensor in his suit. His vision was overlaid with deep blues and purples and one suspiciously black spot that looked about the size of a person.
"I think I got him," Tony said, satisfaction coating his voice. He didn't wait for the others, though he could hear Steve shouting at him to wait. Tony blasted through the windows of one building, catching sight of a surprised look on Loki's face before the Trickster god disappeared. As he did so, the unnatural winter lifted and people shook themselves to get rid of the snow.
"Looks like a job well done," Clint commented, working his way down from the roof. "And I'm glad we got out of that masquerade party. I can only deal with those people for so long."
"Good job, everyone," Steve said, acting as their leader still. "Head back to the tower and get what rest you can. I don't think this was the extent of Loki's plan."
Tony and Thor flew while the others headed back to the jet, not far behind the first two Avengers. Thor quickly left to meet up with Jane and head to the suite Tony had designated as the god's. He waited in his suit until Clint brought the helicopter in and the others came in to change.
"Hey," Tony said softly, walking over to Steve and hugging him. "I think you have a promise to keep."
The others changed and headed to their rooms, leaving Steve and Tony staring into each other's eyes. Tony felt his breath hitch as he recognized the anger on Steve's face.
"Why didn't you wait?" Steve asked, finally turning away and starting to strip off his suit. "Loki could have killed you, Tony."
"He didn't, though, and now he's gone," Tony replied, taking the helmet off and placing it in the suit's alcove. "Why are you so angry?"
"I could have lost you after finally making you see," Steve replied bitterly. "It's the same problem I have every time we go into battle. You take off without taking into consideration group tactics."
"I have more protection than most of the others," Tony said, meeting Steve's eyes again. "Natasha and Clint are human while Bruce is only human until the Hulk comes out. Thor might be the only other one who could take Loki easily, but he flies slower than I do. And you, underneath the serum, you break just like other humans."
Steve felt his eyes widen at Tony's admission, surprised at the reason behind the genius's recklessness. He was protecting the other members of the team as best he could. The anger Steve felt slowly faded away and a weary smile crossed his face.
"I understand," he said and Tony mirrored the smile. They moved closer to each other, mouths meeting in a kiss far easier than before, since Tony was almost the same height as Steve with his armor on. Though, the seriousness of the moment broke the moment JARVIS began playing a light melody, one Steve recognized as a love song from his time.
"Really?" Tony asked, breaking the kiss and glaring at the ceiling. "Great timing, JARVIS."
"Just trying to help, sir," JARVIS replied blandly and Steve laughed. He'd been living in the tower long enough to recognize the AI's brand of humor.
"So, I believe I made a promise to you?" Steve asked, pulling Tony's head back for a deep kiss.