...Before You Find a Prince

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

Author's Notes: I asked for fluff prompts, to which johanirae replied "There seems to be quite a lot of fics turning Tony into a small pet of some sort (and Steve being the one to take care of him)... Would love to see your take on that theme :D". At which point I got a humor bunny that had me giggling all the way to the bus stop. I have no idea if it turned out funny at all (I never can tell), but here we go anyway. *g*

Not betaed, because this is just a weird little flufflet.

When Steve got back to Avengers Tower after the mission he'd been helping SHIELD with, he found the rest of the Avengers, except for Tony, gathered around the kitchen table. He walked up behind them and peered curiously over Peter's shoulder. Sitting in the middle of the table was the biggest frog Steve has ever seen in his life. The frog actually seemed to catch his eye, and immediately croaked so loudly that it seemed better described as a bellow.

Several of the Avengers jumped, and all of them turned to look at Steve. "Um. Hi," Peter said awkwardly.

Steve looked at him curiously, wondering why everyone looked almost embarrassed. "Why is there a frog on the table?" he asked. "And where is Tony?"

Everyone but Logan turned back to the frog. Logan just stuck the cigar he was holding into the corner of his mouth and said, "The frog is Tony."

Steve blinked. "Excuse me?" The frog bellowed again.

They waited for the sound to die away. "We ran into a magic user," Luke explained. "She, uh, got kind of pissed at Tony."

"We took her down," Peter put in, "but she wouldn't change him back, after. Not even when Logan threatened her with his claws."

Steve stared at the frog for a second. It--Tony--stared back. It a frog could look disgruntled, this one did. Or maybe it just looked that way because Steve expected that's how Tony felt. "I assume you called Doctor Strange."

"First thing," Jessica said. "Well, after we delivered the woman to The Raft. But he's not in this dimension right now, and he isn't expected back for days."

Tony-the-frog bellowed again. This time it was so loud that Steve winced. "Do we know what he's saying?"

"Sorta," Luke muttered.

Peter actually grinned. "One bellow for yes, two bellows for no." Tony croaked again. Three times. "And, uh, extra bellows whenever he's kind of pissed off."

"Right," Steve said firmly. "Plan B."

Plan B was Wiccan. Unfortunately, several minutes of intently muttering "I want Tony to be human again, I want Tony to be human again" had no apparent effect. Plans C, D, and E were Hank Pym, Reed Richards, and Hank McCoy, each of whom poked and prodded Tony until he started bellowing and wouldn't stop until Steve rescued him and let him rest for a day. All three of them promised to call if they came up with something. Plan F involved Steve visiting the woman who had transformed Tony and attempting to convince her to change him back. She spat at him. Plan G was a second call to Doctor Strange, who was still out of reach.

Steve couldn't help worrying when they started to repeat their plans. He'd been calm until then, despite the fact that the days were adding up. Tony's life wasn't in danger, after all, and they'd dealt with strange magic before and always managed to find a way through. But Tony was answering questions with clear "yes" or "no" bellows less and less often, and while that could be due to irritation, the possibility existed that the tiny bullfrog brain couldn't sustain his personality. What if there was nothing left of Tony to change back?

He still seemed to recognize people, at least. Well, assuming the fact that he always hopped over to Steve and bellowed once for "yes" whenever Steve walked into a room could be considered recognition. Over the last couple of days, Steve had taken to carrying him around, as much because he felt better having Tony close by as to reduce the noise.

Sitting on the edge of Tony's bed, Steve watched over the bullfrog, who seemed to be asleep on the pillow at the head of the bed, and tried to think of something else, anything else, that they could try to change him back. Magic could be infuriating sometimes.

Steve paused.


He hesitated, then got up and went to close Tony's bedroom door before returning to sit on the edge of the bed again. After a moment, feeling terribly self-conscious, Steve quickly leaned down and pressed a kiss to Tony-the-frog's cool, bumpy skin.

There was a flash of pink light and Steve found himself leaning over Tony, quite human and quite naked. And quite awake. Steve froze. "I thought you were sleeping."

"Bullfrogs don't sleep," Tony said. His eyes sparkled as he looked up at Steve. "What made you think of kissing me?"

Steve felt his cheeks heat slightly and tried not to think about kissing Tony. Not while he was lying there naked. "The Frog Prince," he admitted.

A smile curved Tony's lips. "So, are you leaning in so close looking for your happily ever after?" Steve started to sit up hurriedly, but Tony reached up and caught hold of the back of his neck. "I didn't say you couldn't have it," he murmured.

For one timeless moment their eyes met and then Steve leaned down and Tony leaned up and they were kissing, soft and slow and so much sweeter than Steve had ever imagined it.

Happily ever after seemed about right.