Snowy Hills are Made For This

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for the Winter Fluff challenge on cap_ironman. The deadline said "end of January". It's still January! In my time zone, anyway. :-P

Steve dusted the snow off of his gloves and watched with satisfaction as Spider-Man sealed the last Hydra agent into what had become a ball of webbing and men. It seemed even more appropriate than usual, given the name of their organization. "Good work everyone," he said, smiling broadly. Only about half of the team had been available, but they had been in fine form today.

"Now that we've got the bad guys all tied up," Spider-Man said, turning away from his handiwork and wrapping his arms around himself to chafe himself with his hands, "can we get out of here? Not all of us are immune to the cold!"

"I'm not immune to the cold," Iron Man noted.

"There are heating circuits in that suit!" Spider-Man said. "It's the same thing."

"The authorities are on their way to pick our friends up," Storm said soothingly. "We shall be able to leave shortly."

"Not shortly enough," Spider-Man muttered.

Steve turned to keep an eye out for the incoming aircraft and found himself looking down the steep, snow covered slope of the hill they stood on. Steve wasn't sure what the hill would look like in summer, but he'd bet that it would be pleasant and grassy; there wasn't a single tree or protruding rock on the expanse. His smile took on a wistful note.

"Something on your mind?" Iron Man asked, stepping up next to him.

"Not really," Steve said, but he went on. "When I was a kid we used to walk to Central Park in the winter go sledding. I knew a boy, Will, whose father was a carpenter. He'd give us a sheet of wood to use and we'd take turns throwing ourselves at those hills, trying to build up a decent amount of speed." Steve laughed. "They weren't bad hills, but they weren't huge either. Sometimes we'd squeeze three or four of us onto that piece of wood, hoping the weight would make us go faster. Hiking back up to the top, I used to fantasize about hills like this." He waved at the slope in front of him.

"Why not give it a shot now?" Spider-Man asked, peering around Steve's shoulder.

Steve shot him a bemused look. "I'm twenty-eight now. And I haven't got a sled, or even a piece of wood."

"Oh, come on!" Tony scoffed. "Getting older doesn't mean you have to stop having fun." His faceplate was still down, mindful of the Hydra agents just behind them, but Steve could hear the grin in his voice. "And you have something much better than a sled." He pointed at the shield.

Steve blinked at it and was incredibly tempted for a moment. "I'm not throwing myself down that hill while you all laugh at me."

"Who said you'd be alone?" Tony returned cheerfully.

"And what are you going to use for a sled?" Steve's tone was pointed, but he could feel anticipating rising.

"I am a sled," Tony said proudly, knocking a fist against his chest with a metallic clang.

Steve snorted. "Oh, really? You'd catch corners everywhere and grind to a halt halfway down."

"Want to bet?" Tony shot back.

"I bet that I beat you both down!" Spider-Man announced from behind them.

Steve turned around to discover Spider-Man standing proudly over a large rectangle made out of webbing. There were hand and foot loops attached at the front and back. Steve couldn't help it--he gaped. It would be like riding a blanket down the snowy hill.

"You're on!" Tony replied instantly, and the next thing Steve knew the three of them were lined up at the top of the hill and Storm was waiting at the bottom to judge the winner.

Steve was about to ask what they'd use for a starting signal with Storm at the bottom, when one the Hydra agents suddenly shouted, "Ready...set...go!"

All three of them reacted automatically, running for the edge of the hill and flinging themselves down the slope. Steve's knees hurt for a moment as they struck down on the shield, but then he was gripping the straps on the inside of the disk and leaning forward, laughing as wind rushed by him and the landscape sped into a blur.

Glancing to the side, he saw that he was leaving both Iron Man and Spider-Man in his dust, and he couldn't help a triumphant whoop. A sudden, familiar roar answered it. He glanced over again and saw Iron Man pulling up towards him, his boot jets flaring and driving the armor face first through the snow. "Cheater!" Steve shouted over the wind and jets.

"I said I'd use the armor, and I'm using the armor!" Iron Man shouted back, unrepentant.

"I'm going to beat you anyway!"

"Prove it!"

Steve leaned even further forward, perilously close to over-balancing the shield, clinging to the leather straps, the bottom of the hill rushing up on him, red and gold flashes in the corner of his eye urging him onward.

A sudden squawk brought his gaze around again and he saw that Spider-Man had turned into a tumbling cloud of white, his webbing blanket hopelessly tangled around him. Steve laughed as the other man threatened to turn into a snowball and shot Iron Man a challenging look. "Just you and me now!"

"Just me, you mean!" Iron Man called back, pulling a body length ahead.

But he misjudged the terrain a hair just as the slope started to level out and crashed into the ground, tumbling end over end, and leaving Steve to skid across the finish line on his shield. He lifted his hands for a triumphant moment before the shift in weight sent him tumbling, too. He slid to a stop in a giant pile of snow and flopped onto his back, laughing in unrestrained joy while he stared up at the blue sky.

After a moment Tony came into view above him, armor crusted and packed with snow, faceplate raised, and grinning just as broadly. He offered Steve a hand up.

"Thanks," Steve said, taking the hand, meaning more.

"My pleasure," Tony answered, his hand lingering for a moment. Then they turned together and headed back to the hill to help Storm dig Spider-Man out of his snowball.