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Saturday, May 31st, 2014 12:45 pm
Title: Ruffling Feathers
Summary: Sam disagrees with Loki - natural isn't always better.
Content notes: Warnings for potential body horror

The trouble with helping Steve with fights was that it eventually became helping the Avengers with fights, which in turned meant helping the Avengers in fights with Loki. Man, that villain just didn't know when to shut up.

He was rattling off another speech when Sam swept in a low pass overhead and fired off a few shots. It was with a souped up gun provided by Stark, but Loki swatted them away as if they were flies. He scowled up at Sam.

"Are you that in love with the sound of your own voice?" Sam cut in before Loki could start another rant at him.

Loki looked furious, and then he suddenly dropped his voice to smooth. "Doesn't everyone have something they love? Why it seems to me that you love those wings."

Sam pushed his wings for more speed. He didn't want to be in range when Loki finished that train of thought. Unfortunately, Loki had other ideas, and Sam found himself snared by a bolt of magic. He cursed and shot at the curved forcefield around him. Loki didn't even flinch at the impact, and brought the trapped Sam down to his level.

Sam switched to fists. He hadn't seen much of Loki, but what he had seen led to one conclusion - Loki was crazy.

He definitely wasn't a mind reader, because he was ignoring Sam's assessment of him and his struggles. "An ingenious creation, but a tad on the artificial side," said Loki. "I think a touch of authenticity would do it good."

There's the crazy, Sam had the time to think, because Loki shot him with another blast of magic, and all went dark.

Sam awoke to Steve's worried face hovering above him, and the beep of hospital monitors.

"Oh good, I'm not dead," he remarked, and was glad when it didn't come out hoarse. He hadn't taken a lot of hits before or after Loki downed him. He stretched out and Steve disappeared out of sight, following by the sound of several machines clattering to the ground.

"What the - " Sam sat up and Steve shoved some machines upright before leaping over the bed. As Sam turned, he saw Steve also rescuing other fixtures in the room.

"Sam, do you mind just sitting tight for a while?" Steve said, voice tight as he starts setting the room to rights.

"Loki gave me telekinetic powers?" Sam grimaced at his hands.

"Not quite," said Steve, with a cough that he probably thought was discreet despite the way his hand went up to his mouth. "I'll show you just don't move!"

Sam kept very still as Steve ducked into the bathroom, then came out with a much larger mirror than what Sam thought hospitals stocked. Steve had the reflective side facing himself when he came to a stop at the foot of Sam's bed. "You have to promise me you won't freak out."

"I've got something on my face haven't I? Because I'm looking at my hands and I'm looking at my legs and it's all good. It's got something to do with my face isn't it?"

"Ah, no, it's - "

"Alright fine. Stop your hemming and hawing and just show me." When Steve hesitated again, Sam bit out, "I won't freak out, alright? Now just turn the mirror."

With a sigh, Steve did as he was told.

Sam's face looked like it always had. Wide eyes, strong jaw, a nose that always looked big to him but everyone else assured him that it was fine. Honestly what was Steve freaking about.

A twitch behind Sam caught his eye, and he focused on the thing that was causing the movement. The thing was big and grey, and it looked like it had feathers. In fact, it looked like a great big honking wing, and there was another one on the other side of Sam.

What was it that Loki had said about Sam's flight pack? A touch of authenticity would do it good?

Sam's wings flared out in alarm, and Steve sighed when the action set the privacy curtains flying.

Steve apologised for asking Steve to join in the fight, Thor apologised for his brother with the promise of getting him to reverse the spell, Stark apologised that biology wasn't his expertise but he was willing to give reversing the spell a shot (Sam decided not to take him up on the offer, even with Banner helping. He didn't want to become mechanical or big and green.)

Which really should have prepared him for the poking and prodding and gawking. Sam had also tried to avoid SHIELD's testing, until they promised that the battery of tests going to put him through was non-invasive. He might not be on the dissection table, but a man with honking big wings was still a centre of attention wherever he went. Sam didn't quite know how to fold them away yet. His flight pack had wings that could retract into their box, but Sam's flesh wings, even when folded, still stuck out beyond his shoulders. And above his head. And past his butt, wasn't that annoying when he wanted to sit down.

He had forgotten again when they reached the lab, and yelped when he registered the pain in his wings. They felt like an extra pair of arms, and wasn't that weird to think about.

Steve, who had taken to shadowing him to make sure Sam's wings didn't punch anyone out cold by accident, started towards Sam, but stopped just short of touching the wing.

"Go ahead," said Sam, wings unintentionally flicking out along with his words. He frowned at them and tensed his wing muscles again. "It's not like the techs won't be all over them in a minute anyway."

Steve still hesitated, the big lump, but he finally touched a finger to the feathers, then darted back again. When Sam's wings didn't twitch, he pressed a palm to the arch, and then finally started petting it.

"Well? How does it feel?" To Sam, it felt like patting his arm, only a lot more feathers were in the way.

"Like patting a huge fluffy chicken," said Steve, who was actually being honest about it because he didn't have that little smirk that sometimes graced his face when he snapped off one of his fancy one-liners. Still.

"Chicken? I'll show you big fluffy chicken, you oversized hunk of meat." He aimed a mock strike at Steve's head, which he dodged with a laugh.

Something went crashing over behind Sam. Steve sighed again, and Sam joined in with an "Aw shit."

"They must be good for something," said Natasha, when she finally saw Sam.

"Yeah? I know they're really good at knocking things over." Sam wanted to make a good impression, because wow Natasha was hot, but that was hard when he kept causing accidents wherever he went.

"Well they're wings. Wings are usually used for flying. Have you tried yet?"

Sam couldn't help the snort that escaped. "Yeah, when I actually know what I'm doing with them instead of them swinging around all over the place. It's alright when I'm on my feet, but when I'm up in the air?" Sam made a crashing sound.

"Why don't you know what you're doing with them? Can't you feel them?"

To his surprise, Natasha actually made a grab for the wings. Sam swung them out of the way with a yelp. "Hey!" he started, but trailed off when he saw Natasha's smug look.

"You can control them when threatened. Or at least, your wing's reflexes are good. Maybe you need some training with your wings." She tapped her lips thoughtfully.

In the end, it was Stark who got Sam to fly.

Not through gentle encouragement, like Steve. Not through training, like Natasha. No, motherfucking Tony Stark had just shoved Sam off the platform while he was deep in a discussion about the new version of the helicarrier (minus the deathseeking missiles).

Sam flailed wildly before something caught and he found himself going up instead of down as gravity said he should. The rhythmic stretch in his back told him that his wings were beating, straining with the effort to keep him in midair and not sent him splattering on the ground.

"Huh," Stark had the audacity to say. "Looks like you've got the instincts for flying."

"You bastard!" Sam dove at him, only to find that his dive had become a swan dive.

Something caught the belt around his waist, and Sam's dive was abruptly stopped. He glanced up to see that he was at the end of a rope, currently held by Barton. It must have been one of his trick arrows.

"You shot at me?" he hollered, as he was jerked up in increments.

"Not the way to talk to someone who's saving your life," Hawkeye grunted, but hauled Sam back to safety anyway.

So once Sam got over having two honking big things attached to his back. the wings weren't so bad. Like Natasha said, they were good for something. After that disasterous first attempt, Sam found flying came to him easily.

(Just that he wouldn't ever admit Stark's experiment worked aloud. The strutting around and winks that Stark kept sending his way were already irritating, Sam didn't know what Stark would do if sam actually acknowledged his work was good for something.

And that was already after Natasha had put Stark and Barton to rights for the stun, Stark for initiating and Barton for agreeing to act as backup instead of stopping the whole thing. Sam certainly wasn't smirking over this fact. Natasha loved Sam, Sam just knew it.)

Sam liked flying. He liked that he didn't have to don his pack and that he could just spread his wings and take off. He liked that his wings could bend and twist and allow him to do things that he thought were only restricted to birds. He also liked that he looked like a huge avenging angel, which was endlessly cool.

But the thing that that Sam was also an ordinary guy who liked to sit in a bar and just shoot the breeze without being so out of place. Just because he hung out with extraordinary and amazing people like Steve didn't mean that he wanted to be extraordinary like them all the time. there was something about serving honestly and quietly in other capacities. The sessions he ran for veterans were generally something he enjoyed, but there always seemed to be the need to get the talk about his wings out of the way first.

So when Banner said, "Dr Strange and i have come up with a formula that we think can reverse Loki's magic."

"Great!" was Sam's first reaction.

"It will also mean that you'll be immune to having wings magicked onto your back the next time any magician gets it into his mind to do the same as Loki."

"Gone forever huh?" mused Sam. His wings were now settled over his shoulders, like a warm cape. Sam actually found it comforting.

I'm sure you're happy to learn that you will be able to keep your human form." There was a wistful note in his voice that Sam had to resist his therapist side from jumping on. There was dealing with issues, and there was dealing with issues that resulted in Hulk. Besides, if Sam had to start giving therapy to the Avengers Steve probably had first dibs.

It did call for a bit of tact when he made his request. "I was thinking, Loki magicked my flight pack, right? I don't know how this magic thing works, but if the wing part is the same as the metal wing part of my flight pack, then you could just work on the part of the magic that glued the wings to my back?" He flicked the tip of his wings for emphasis, now familiar enough with the extra limbs that he didn't bash them against the sides of the corridor with the gesture. "So it would be the same as my flight pack, only with real life wings - "

"A removable pair of wings?" Banner was already watching Sam's wing movements with great curiousity. "I see how that could be useful, but I'll have to go over the equations with Dr Strange again."

"Yeah, that'll be great! I mean, you could keep this set of calculations, I'm happy to go back to the way things were too."

Sam didn't say anything about how he was crossing his fingers behind his back.

With Loki the change had come quick and fast. With Dr Strange and Banner, and Steve hovering around with worry, and SHIELD taking all the readings that they could lay their hands on...

Well, basically it was more of a circus than Sam was expecting. Dr Strange and Banner were checking the spells/equations that they were going to use on him, so it was probably not a good idea to yell, "Just get it over with!"

Sam must have been deeper in his thoughts than he realised, because when Steve grasped his shoulder Sam started. His wings were flared out, so Sam pulled them back in again.

"It'll be alright. Dr Strange and Bruce are good at what they do."

"I know. They qualified for the Avengers, didn't they?"

Steve grinned. "That's why you'll be fine."

Sam grinned back too. Steve didn't have the training that Sam did, but he knew the right things to say.

"I'll be here for you," Steve said, and stepped out of the circle just as Banner gave Sam the thumbs up.

Sam echoed the gesture and let the charge that would shift him back to normalcy shift over him. He was with friends - whatever happened, it would all be alright.