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Stick With Me, Baby, I’m the Fella You Came in With

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The first time that it happens, Tony swears that he would’ve done it with anyone. Bruce, Natasha, Thor, Clint – okay, maybe not Clint, what with the whole two-kids-and-literal-picket-fence thing, but definitely everyone else. Basically, if it had been any of them standing next to Tony when the chunk of Sokovia started making like a soufflé and rising, he’d have gone for it the exact same way.

Of course, it just so happens that it’s Steve who’s standing next to Tony at this point. Cap’s talking calmly into his comm, asking for updates as he watches the remaining civilians move onto the helicarrier.

Tony flips his faceplate up, mostly to get a couple of lungfuls of fresh air while he still can. He half-listens to Steve in between FRIDAY’s rattling off updated stats in his ear – rate of acceleration, projected impact, all those fun things. Doesn’t really matter though; Tony knows what he has to do.

It’s another wire play. He can almost hear Pepper’s voice in his head (“Oh, Tony”) and he almost protests out loud: it’s not like he’s gunning for these kinds of situations. It just so happens that this is yet another task that’s up to the flight squad of the Avengers, and he happens to be half of said squad. (The Pepper voice adds: “But the other half’s a god, Tony.”)

Mostly, Tony finds it hilarious because unlike him, the good Captain is all about throwing himself on the wire, so it’s too bad that his wings are only for show. Tony know what he has to do, and he’ll do it, but he’s entitled to a moment to reflect on how damned grateful he is that he’s not used to this kind of bullshit.

It’s only a second or two for Tony to cycle through all of these thoughts and then some, and then he says, “It’ll work.”

“Wait until we give the all clear,” Steve says. “I mean it.”

“Yeah.” Tony glances over, and for a second Steve looks tired – worn down, in ways the serum should not allow him to – before it’s gone and the grim jaw-clench is back. Steve looks at him, eyes like steel, and Tony finds himself thinking that if he dies doing this then at least he’ll have spared himself Steve’s reaming him out about Ultron and Vision.

Even as Tony thinks that, he’s aware it’s a dumb thought. Any and all of them could die up here, which is a risk that they all accept. Tony knows this, just as he knows that he always gets a little stupid in moments like these. He figures that he’s allowed, what with his not being a soldier, spy, god, or rage monster.

Basically, whenever he’s about to do something stupid in the near future like blow up the vibranium core of a literal flying city and try to survive the explosion, it somehow makes sense to do something stupid in the immediate future, as a warm-up.

Tony puts a hand on Steve’s shoulder. His brain screams at him – yep, here we go, dumb moment – as he leans in and kisses Steve.

It’s pretty boring. Just a quick, dry press of lips, and as matter-of-fact easy like the way Tony sometimes taps Steve’s shoulder with the back of his hand to annoy him.

Then Tony’s leaning back and saying, “For luck,” at Steve’s bewildered expression, before flipping faceplate on and soaring up into the sky.

+

It works out, in the end.

It’s a big ‘ol mess that needs a hell of a lot of clean-up, but still far better than Tony feared it would be. The tower is a mess, too, though it’s usable for the thinner team – Clint’s gone home, Bruce is AWOL and Thor doing some cosmic investigating, which means that it’s only him, Steve, Natasha, Maria and Vision. Temporarily, of course. Tony could get the place back to its original state, but what’s the point in rebuilding anything exactly the same?

He brings it up to Steve late one morning, after there’s enough of a breather from the Sokovia mission.

“My dad has a warehouse upstate,” Tony tells Steve. The kitchen is one of the few common areas in the Avengers portion of tower that’s still fully intact, which makes it as good as any place to have a meeting. “Had. Anyway, I was thinking we could convert it, give the team and whatever’s left of SHIELD a fresh start.”

“Moving on already?” Steve rests his hip against the table, and watches as Tony pulls up a schematic projection from his phone. “Might be less of a target than this place, as great as it’s been.”

“I could stick the sign on top, if you’re that attached to it.”

Steve gives a him look, but reaches into the projection, flipping through the rooms. “How long have you been working on this?”

“Yesterday,” Tony says. “Day before yesterday. When did Clint go off with the Maximoff kid? That day.”

“What’ll you do with the rest of the tower?”

Tony waves it off. “Pepper’ll find some use, don’t worry about that. What’d you think? You interested in signing the lease?”

“I think I’d better see the place first.” Steve tilts his head, intrigued by the layout of a training room – Tony’s quite proud of that one. “You open to ideas for this new place?”

“Of course, yeah.”

“Had to ask, what with your penchant for doing things your way and not telling the rest of us.”

Tony sits back and crosses his arms. “Oh okay, here we go.”

“Here we go what?” Steve says.

“Have at it, Cap,” Tony says. “I thought maybe you’d forgotten all about it, seeing as that memory’s one of the first things to go with the elderly, but of course you had to go and break that bell-curve.”

Steve’s right eye twitches, and Tony considers feeling bad for about 0.5 seconds. Tony braces himself, and tries to remember all the responses he’d come up with in the shower for this impending argument.

“All right,” Steve says, sounding far calmer than Tony expected, “if you don’t want to talk about Ultron, then let’s talk about the other thing you did.”

“What other thing?” Tony thinks, considers Steve’s narrowed eyes, and jolts when he remembers the ill-advised lip-lock. “That thing? I thought the accepted way to go would be to pretend that it never happened.”

“Fine. Then can I just say that even after what we saw with Ultron, you’re just lucky that Vision didn’t turn out to be—”

“It was for luck,” Tony says. “I did the… thing for luck. Hey, I even said so.”

“Luck,” Steve echoes flatly. “Really?”

Tony makes a face at him. “Yes, really, I was about to fly my ass up an extinction-level event and a little luck would’ve been nice.”

“You’re going to have to do better than that.”

Tony throws his hands in the air. “Fine. I was thinking about Pepper.”

Steve blinks. “You thought I was Pepper?”

“I don’t know, I think if she wore some kick-ass heels she’d be about your height and—no.” Tony waves it off, because Steve’s starting to look sad, which makes Tony’s skin itch. “I didn’t think you were Pepper.”

“I am sorry about the two of you, though,” Steve says quietly, which is annoying as hell.

“Hey like I said, it was for the best, and it’s no one’s fault,” Tony says quickly. “But anyway, I was thinking about Pepper, but not like that. It’s more like – I was thinking about how I was about to fly head-on into another bullshit situation and it was…”

He pauses, hoping that Steve will do Hail Mary and save the conversation, but no joy. Steve is quiet and watchful, eyes never leaving Tony’s face.

“During the Chitauri attack,” Tony says at last, “I was too late to call her. JARVIS reminded me, but I was already in the portal by then, so… well. I remember lots of shit about that whole episode, but whenever I’m about to make a run like that now, I tend to, uh… I tend to remember what it felt in that moment specifically. That regret.”

Steve frowns. “So it was meant to be a goodbye?”

“No, it wasn’t a goodbye, it’s not like I had a death wish.” Tony catches the way Steve’s face goes funny. “You thought I had a death wish? Wait – you think I like doing those kinds of runs? Are you projecting, Rogers?”

“That’s not—don’t change the subject,” Steve says sharply.

“Jesus Christ,” Tony says, sitting up in surprise. “I didn’t want to die. I just wanted to reach out to another human being before I did something big and dumb, that’s all.” He contemplates Steve’s manly scowl for a moment. “You’re still seeing that therapist, right?”

“That’s definitely none of your business.”

“True,” Tony concedes. “Probably best for the team in general if you were, just sayin’. And I’m sorry.”

Steve eyes him warily. “For which part?”

“For making you think I was going to blow myself up on purpose, which I can tell you with certainty I have no interest in doing now or ever, geez.” Tony shakes his head. “Can’t save the world if I’m dead, Cap. That’s number one.”

“Wow,” Steve says, “you brought the conversation right back to the Ultron project without my prompting you.”

“Ah fuck it,” Tony says without rancor. “It is what it is. What Thor said about the Infinity Stones? Just proves my point. We’re not ready, but we could be.” Steve opens his mouth, so Tony quickly adds, “Together, of course, yeah, definitely. Would love your input in anything else I conjure up.”

“That a promise, Tony?” Steve asks.

“Eh.” Tony draws out the syllable, but Steve doesn’t even roll his eyes. “Yeah, okay.”

“Good. I’m taking your word on that.”

“That’s your problem right—okay, stopping now.” Tony raises his hands at Steve’s look. “This is a great moment, I’m digging it. Great leadership skills, Cap.”

Steve sighs and pulls up a stool, joining Tony properly at the table. “Show me everything you’ve done for the new facility. You’re going to make some changes to your training areas and personal quarters, to start with.”

“Oh, am I?” Tony says.

“Yes, because you hurt my feelings.” At Tony’s blank look, Steve adds, “For kissing me because I happened to be the nearest human being at the time. Way to make a guy feel used, Tony.”

Tony stares at him, until a corner of Steve’s mouth twitches and Tony bursts out laughing.

“Okay, yeah, okay.” Tony shakes his head, gasping for breath, while Steve placidly flips through the rest of the schematic. Steve’s smile is small and pleased, and Tony doesn’t even mind that the guy got one over him. “That’s definitely my bad.”

+

Setting up the new Avengers facility is one thing, but there’s also the matter of the actual people involved. Tony may have maybe gotten a little, teensy, tiny bit better at being a team player, which unfortunately means feeling responsible for the emotional well-being of the rest of his team (somewhere out there Rhodey and Pepper are laughing or making sad faces).

Tony has separate, oblique conversations with Maria and Natasha about Steve’s general well-being, and then leaves it to the subject matter experts to do the heavy lifting. He spends time with Vision, getting him settled in and discovering that he’s inherited JARVIS’s propensity to not give a fuck about any of Tony’s bullshit, which is great. He spends time with Natasha, some of it even by being useful like trying to track down Bruce’s whereabouts.

On that last part, they get a possible hit out in the Pacific, so it’s time for an outing.

It’s just three of them for this – Tony piloting the Quinjet while Steve and Natasha prep for recon and, hopefully, extraction.

“There’s still the possibility he doesn’t want to come back,” Steve says.

“He doesn’t have to,” Natasha says. “I’d just feel better to know for sure.”

Tony calls out over his shoulder, “Tell him I miss those gorgeous cow-eyes of his. That’d do it.”

Natasha laughs. “Not a fan of baby blues, Tony?”

“Children of the Corn gave me nightmares,” Tony says. “No offense, Steve.”

“Full offense, Tony,” Steve replies. “You’re grounded, and you can’t hang out with Bruce anymore, even if we find him.”

“If I have a heart attack and crash, it’s Steve’s fault,” Tony says. “Got that for the record, FRIDAY?”

“Loud and clear, boss,” FRIDAY SAYS.

Tony adjusts the controls a little, and definitely doesn’t have a heart attack when Natasha puts a hand on his shoulder. He glances up, smiling, though Natasha understandably looks like a little distant.

“I’m still not sure I should be here,” Natasha says. “It’s because of me that he…”

“That’s true,” Tony says. “But it’s also true that you’re important. To him. So I’ve been told.”

“It could go badly,” Steve says, coming up to Tony’s other side. “But at least you’d know. We’d know. He hasn’t been on his own since India, right?”

Natasha nods. “It’d be good to know if he’s okay.”

Tony raises a finger. “Actually, technically, the one thing we can know for sure is that Bruce would always be okay, because he’s physically incapable of—”

Steve puts a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “Moment. Don’t ruin it.”

“Oh yeah, that’s your job,” Tony says, patting Steve’s hand.

“Naturally,” Steve says. “I trained in moment-ruining back in the 1940s.”

“Hah!” Tony says with a laugh. “Okay, we’re coming in. You guys ready?”

Their destination is a cluster of small tropical islands where Bruce’s stolen Quinjet might’ve crashed. Tony tells FRIDAY to take over controls for a while and steps down from the seat. It’s a long shot but Tony peers out through the opening ramp, hoping for at least a glimpse of wreckage, but sadly there’s little else to see but blue and green.

“You sure you don’t want to join us?” Steve asks as hoists his shield on.

“Mosquitos and leeches, not my scene.” That said, Tony does glance over at his briefcase resting against the bulkhead, where the suit is waiting in readiness. “You know what you’re doing, anyway. Bruce probably knows what he’s doing, too, if he’s here. Okay, Natasha, you’re up.”

Natasha nods and makes her jump. Tony watches her go, then holds on to the rail while the Quinjet banks a little for the next drop point.

“Hey,” Steve says, tightening up the straps of his helmet. “Don’t build a robot army while I’m gone.”

“’Course not,” Tony says. “I’ll wait ‘til you get back first.”

Steve’s mouth thins, because he has a whole shtick about pretending not to find Tony funny, and Tony returns the favor by pretending that he doesn’t notice. It’s kinda charming – even the part where Tony suspects that Steve does it just to throw him off.

“Don’t forget to pass my message to Bruce,” Tony says. “Oh, and give him a kiss, would you?”

Steve tilts his head a little, his eyes suddenly sharp in a way that has Tony thinking of lightbulbs being switched on. Tony has barely a chance to ponder what that might mean, because Steve’s stepping right up to him and saying, “Like this?” before sliding an arm around the back of Tony’s head and dipping him into a kiss.

It’s surreal as hell and over too quickly. One second Tony is being guided in a careful dip, Steve’s mouth on his, and the next second Tony’s back up on his own two feet, Steve looks at him straight in the eye and says, “I’ll take that one for luck.”

Then he leaps out of the Quinjet, and becomes a rapidly-shrinking blue shape heading straight for a significantly larger blue canvas.

FRIDAY is the only witness to Tony’s bewildered, “The hell?”

+

The mission is mostly a bust, with neither Bruce nor Hulk anywhere in sight. By the time Tony picks Steve and Natasha up, the pair have already had the heart-to-heart about it (thank God), so all Tony needs to do is fly them back and along the way share all the awesome stuff he managed to create while he was waiting.

No matter what some people might think (Steve, or maybe not Steve anymore, because he’s gotten better at that sort of thing) Tony does know how to wait for the appropriate moment to bring up a subject. This means waiting until they’re back at the tower, through Natasha’s griping about why can’t he just fix the damn windows yet, and then her traipsing off to do whatever – call Clint and convince him to name one of his kids after Bruce, maybe.

That leaves Tony free to trail after Steve, following him to the common area and watching as he rummages through the fridge for something to eat. Tony feels like his face might get stuck in its permanent rictus of bemusement, so he quickly does a few jaw exercises while waiting for Steve to notice him.

“What?” Steve says at last.

“You wanna tell me what happened back there?” Tony asks. “And don’t ask me to clarify what, because I know you know.”

Steve takes another bite of his apple, chews, and swallows. “I thought we weren’t supposed to talk about that sort of thing.”

“Yeah, well—” Tony crosses his arms, “—I want to. You don’t just spring that on a dude.”

“It was for luck,” Steve says. “No, actually, I just wanted to see how you’d react. I mean, you brought it up, I just ran with it.”

Tony concedes the second point, but not the first. “You wanted to see how I’d react?”

Steve smiles, the bastard. “Yeah.”

Tony starts to protest, but changes his mind. He has talked to Sam Wilson, after all, and apparently Steve pulls shit like this on the regular with people he likes. Pleasure starts to bloom in Tony’s chest at that thought, but he sets that aside for the moment, and restricts his response to a begrudging, “Ugh, fine, you win.”

“So we’re even, then,” Steve says. “You should’ve seen your face.”

“My dislike for you is immense and troubling.”

“That’s a lie, but I’ll let it pass.” Steve tosses the apple core at the bin, and Tony completely fails to develop telekinesis and have it bounce off the rim instead of dropping neatly inside, like a punctuation mark. “Is there anything else?”

“Yeah,” Tony says, “you can stop being so annoying.”

“Not something I can learn from you, sadly.” Steve waves as he makes his exit from the kitchen, exuding more self-satisfaction than is appropriate for America’s Golden Boy. “I’m going to go polish my shield.”

“Is that what they called it in the olden days?” Tony yells after him.

+

The problem here is escalation.

Steve said that they were even, but by Tony’s book that can’t be true. Tony wasn’t thinking straight when he took his kiss; Steve was very much sound of mind when he took his. Plus, there was the whole thing where Tony got dipped like a freaking damsel – which was weirdly hot and over too soon, but whatever – and thus not at all similar to Tony’s very chaste, very quick peck.

Tony thinks that perhaps the real reason he’s so irritated is because Steve beat him to it. If Tony had been the one to deliberately throw Steve off-balance with a well-timed smooch, then hell yes.

In the days afterward, Tony spends time here and there thinking about that imbalance, and how it inevitably means escalation. But that sounds too much like gay chicken, which is about as interesting as Hammer Industries’ stock options, and would probably make Steve put on his Severely Disappointed face at the suggestion of.

Steve’s not about that kind of mind game bullshit. Which is cool, because neither is Tony.

He tries to steer his thoughts in another direction, choosing instead to reflect on the ease with which Steve orchestrated his kiss despite it being spontaneous. That’s actually kind of impressive, because if Tony ever tried to pull that shit with, say, Pepper, he has the feeling that one of them would’ve ended up with a broken hip.

It was aggravating enough when Tony first met Steve and got the whole narrow-eyed stiff-jawed Face of Judgement all the time, like Tony was back to being a kid that couldn’t be seen beyond the silver spoon of mass destruction in his mouth. This Steve – the one that started to surface somewhere between the Battle of New York and SHIELD going belly-up – is a different kind of aggravating, and less obvious how to handle.

Tony has no illusions that he and Steve are particularly close. They get along fine (now) and are fucking epic on the battlefield, but there’s a clear pattern when the crises at hand require talking instead of bashing people in the head. Or worse yet, when there’s no crises involved whatsoever. Tony doesn’t – can’t – put Steve within the same neighborhood as Rhodey, Bruce, or even Happy. That feels wrong by some fundamental measure, like misaligned gears grinding sharp, and he suspects that Steve might agree – Tony’s seen how Steve is around Sam and Natasha, for the flipside.

Tony doesn’t actually mind this. He’s accepted that the static electricity between them would never truly go away, so it’s just a matter of managing it instead of pretending that it’s not there. When it’s good, it’s great, but when it’s bad, it’s an arc flash of annihilation, et cetera.

Part of that management is the processing of new information about Steve. Said new information now includes acknowledgement of Steve’s slowly-gained ease around Tony, Steve’s ability to be an understated asshole, and the fact that despite Tony’s since-childhood apathy for the PG-rated cliché of Captain America, Steve Rogers the human being is actually pretty damn likeable.

Hot on the heels of those thoughts is the awareness that Steve has been processing Tony, and probably for longer – since the band got back together at least. Sure, part of that is being a good team leader, but Tony’s pretty sure there are ways to manage Tony as an Avenger without actually stooping to his level (see: Maria). Not only is Steve a little shit, he’s a little shit who knows how to speak Tony.

Tony respects that. He’d never actually tell Steve that, but he respects it.

Of course, the side effect of all of this contemplation is that it makes Steve even more attractive than he already is. Tony simply finding anyone attractive isn’t a big deal, seeing as that he’s attracted to loads of people, including pretty much everyone who’s part of or linked to the Avengers (even Fury, sometimes, though he tries not to think about that one).

Steve simply existing? Fine, attractive, whatever. Steve being able to return Tony’s volleys with a steady eye and half-smile? Scorching hot.

Tony decides to treat this as the opposite of a problem.

+

“Air support,” Tony tells Rhodey later, while they’re sitting in the half-renovated private common room of the new Avengers facility, “we need it.”

Rhodey shifts in his seat, uncomfortable. “Are you sure that Thor’s leaving for good?”

“He’s been clear from the start that he only came back for the scepter,” Tony says. “The sky needs more eyes.”

“But I’m Air Force,” Rhodey says. “I don’t know if I can be an Avenger on top of that.”

“Are you just saying that because you outrank Rogers?”

“It would be weird taking orders from him.”

Tony’s response is stalled when the man himself comes traipsing in, scowling at a tablet. Said scowl eases up into a friendly smile when he spots them, though Tony’s responding smile turns into a grimace when Steve opens with, “I need new handles for my shield. Hello, Colonel.”

“Ugh,” Tony says, while Rhodey calls out a greeting. “Do you know how it long it took for me to work on your gauntlets?”

“One lunch break?” Steve ventures.

“Ha fuck you ha.” Tony snaps his fingers, and is only a little surprised when Steve wanders over to their sitting area without complaint. Some toggling has Tony transferring Steve’s sketch over to his device, and then converting it to 3D. “You going retro again, Cap?”

“More for flexibility,” Steve says. “The gauntlet assumes that I’ll be the only person handling the shield, which has become less true the more team missions we’ve had.”

Tony perks up. “Do I get to use the shield someday?”

“If you eat all your vegetables and go to bed when you’re told.”

“Never, then. Dammit.”

Rhodey makes an unimpressed sound. “If this is your sales pitch, it needs a lot of work.”

Steve parks his butt on the arm of the couch and looks over with interest. “Tony’s trying to recruit you?”

“Key word being ‘trying’,” Rhodes says. “Tony did run this by you first, I hope?”

“Oh definitely,” Steve says, “but I didn’t know when he was going to bring it up.”

“It’s why I’m showing him around the new place,” Tony says. “Sure, it needs that final coat of paint in places, but it’s still impressive. What about you, Cap? Does the facility measure up to your extensive and terrifying standards?”

Steve seems to seriously consider the question. “It’ll do.”

“I’ll remember that when I mess with your shield,” Tony says.

To Tony’s surprise, Steve outright laughs at that – a rumbly sound that Tony may ask FRIDAY to replay for him later. “Geez, Tony. You do know that this place and every single thing you make is amazing, right?”

“Even the Ultron program?” Tony chances.

“Amazing means ‘to cause amazement’, no matter for better or for ill,” Steve says. “So, yes. Even Ultron was amazing.”

Tony narrows his eyes. “I have decided to take that save.” He fiddles with his schematic projection for a while, tuning out Steve and Rhodey’s conversation. It’s probably boring military stuff, but maybe that’s what it takes to get Rhodey on board.

“Hey, Cap,” Tony says after a while, and there’s a polite pause in the conversation he’s interrupted. “Would you sleep with Rhodey?”

Rhodey makes a garbled sound, but that’s nothing new. What’s more educational is Steve’s reaction, i.e. a surprised little jolt of the head, followed by that same ‘ol charming poker face that is only enhanced by the pink tips of his ears.

“Of course not,” Steve says, with that mild top-of-the-morning tone that makes Tony’s toes curl. “Rhodes is Air Force.”

“True!” Rhodey exclaims.

“Dammit.” Tony steeples his fingers under his chin. “Bucket list fantasy, ruined.”

“I think you’ll survive.” Steve, bless his heart, doesn’t hasten a retreat. Instead he shifts sideways, dropping onto the actual couch seat and making himself comfortable. “Actually, since we’re talking about recruitment.”

“Oh no,” Tony says. “Who’d you pick up during your morning jog this time? Does Wilson know that he isn’t special?”

“Actually,” Steve says carefully, “in a way, you picked her up.”

Tony drops back against the cushions. “Wanda?”

“Clint thinks it’s a good idea.”

“Oh, sure, if Clint thinks.”

“Do you want me to put a halt on it?”

Tony looks at Steve in surprise. Steve’s expression is perfectly serious, for apparently this is one of those occasions that calls for him to be stalwart and true. The final call on this shouldn’t be Tony’s (Wanda’s abilities are way above their paygrade, even if no one wants to talk about what that really means yet) but Steve’s asking him anyway. If he says yes, Steve will put a stop to it, without wiggling around it or finding some loophole.

“Nah,” Tony says, waving it away carelessly. “Better for her to have you for a role model than anyone else. Hell, you might even get to undo whatever indoctrination’s been going on at Casa Barton.”

“You sure?” Steve asks.

“Yeah,” Tony says. “It’s good, let’s do that.”

“Uh,” Rhodey says hesitantly, “you’re talking about the Maximoff girl, right? Do you have a dossier or something? That’d really help.”

“I’ll put one together—” Tony says.

“No, I’ll do it,” Steve says. “Team leader. That and you’re busy getting the place actually functional.”

“It’s not being busy when you like doing it,” Tony says.

“I know,” Steve says. “Saving the world’s number one.”

Tony peers at Steve over the rims of his glasses. “Gotta watch out there, Steve. If you’re not careful, you’re going to be stuck with me.”

True to fashion, Steve completely surprises Tony by looking him right in the eye and declaring with heartrending intensity, “Good.”

“Yeah, okay.” Tony flutters his fingers vaguely in the air and turns back to his schematics, because the only other way to respond to that is to swoon.

+

There’s no need for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. As soon the Avengers’ new headquarters are livable, Tony lets Steve declare the place fair game, and that’s it. Natasha, Maria and Vision move in, then Helen and Selvig, and then various other little people that Tony solemnly swears to remember the names of eventually.

Steve gives Tony the head’s up when Wanda arrives, so Tony gets a great view from the upper level windows when Clint escorts the lady in question into the compound. The girl’s dressed simply and in muted colours – Sokovian mourning colors, perhaps? – and her head ducked a little. Tony wonders if he should feel angrier; not just for his behalf, but for Bruce’s, maybe Natasha’s. What would the point be, though?

Steve is hovering nearby, his shoulder almost touching Tony’s. He hasn’t said anything, but his presence is nice.

“I saw you die,” Tony says.

Steve starts in surprise. “What?”

“Her mind whammy on me.” Tony’s not entirely sure why he’s saying this now, but it feels right. It’s better for the team if Steve knows, anyway. “She made me see you die. Not just you, I mean – everyone, the whole team, the whole world. All that was left was me, and I got to watch the rest of an alien army pass through a portal to Earth. That’s what I saw.”

“I thought you didn’t get hit with the rest of us.”

“No, it was at the Hydra base in Sokovia, before Ulysses. Before I got my hands on the scepter.”

Steve inclines his head. “And your fear was us dying.”

“Yep,” Tony says. “I mean, it’s not like anything I didn’t already know, but actually feeling it like it was real… That’s the good shit, is all I’m saying.”

“The future,” Steve says, sounding distant. “She got to your deepest vulnerabilities, and instead of looking back, you saw a future. A potential future.”

Tony frowns at Steve. “Do you want me to be better haunted by my past mistakes? Because I don’t have time for that, Rogers.”

“No, no,” Steve says quickly. He actually looks sheepish, which has Tony relaxing a little. “I didn’t mean it that way. It’s just… that heroic streak of yours must run pretty deep.”

“Okay, that’s half-full. Look at it half-empty.” Tony inclines his head to where Wanda has just disappeared through the open doors. “She thought she was sabotaging me. Probably wasn’t expecting the collateral damage that came with it.”

Steve stands up straighter as that sinks in. “So you think she might be...”

“If Clint’s intel is right, then she’s got a whole chain of blame going on, all the way down to her brother’s getting hit,” Tony says. “So either she still wants to scoop my brains out, or she wants to scoop out her own.”

“You don’t have to talk to her,” Steve says. “Not right now, anyway.”

“She wouldn’t be here at all if she wanted to pretend that I don’t exist.” Tony shrugs. “Better do it now, lay down some ground rules.”

“The same kind of ground rules you gave us before we moved into the tower?”

Tony raises an eyebrow at Steve. “Wars have been started over the misuse of coffee machines, Cap. And anyway, FRIDAY’s always watching. It’ll be fine.”

“I could go with you?”

“And tag-team her? Yeah, that’s totally non-threatening.” Tony knocks Steve’s chest with the back of his knuckles, and then freezes mid-motion. “Actually, what I could use is a little luck.”

He feels Steve stiffen. That said, Steve doesn’t actually move away. Instead, the fella’s standing right where is, well within arm’s length. Tony turns, looks up, and for a moment wonders how he could have ever thought that Steve Rogers was carved out of unfriendly, implacable rock.

A cosmic imbalance is about to be righted. Tony turns himself bodily to face Steve, who gamely does the same, though his eyes look a little wild like that time he threw himself at an experimental Hydra wildebeest some months back. Tony finds that kinda flattering, though not as flattering as the little sound Steve makes when Tony nudges his red-tinted glasses onto the top of his head (all the better to see you with).

Steve’s eyelashes get a bit of a workout when Tony reaches up and slides both hands on either side of Steve’s face to draw him down a little. There’s ample time for Steve to change his mind, and to nip their private joke in the bud (hell, they have a private joke), but Steve’s doing no such thing. When Tony gently settles his lips on Steve’s, he hovers there for a moment, waiting for a little tremor of expectation, and then closes his eyes and presses in when he gets it.

Tony Stark knows damn well how to kiss.

On one level, it’s his pride that’s on the line here. Tony still gets a manly equivalent of the vapors whenever he thinks about Steve’s stupid dipping move in the Quinjet, so it’s only fair that Steve have a memory of Tony’s kissing him that isn’t, well, boring. Take this, Captain Rogers.

On another level, a more interesting level, Tony just wanted to find out if he exists in a universe where he’s allowed to kiss Steve, with bonus clutching at Steve’s biceps while he does it. Apparently, the answer to both is: yes. This is vital information, and Tony is all the richer for knowing it.

It’s a good kiss, too. Steve’s totally into it, what with his sighing into Tony’s mouth and then vibrating a little when Tony uses tongue. Tony follows the rhythm of it carefully, judging for just the right moment – there! – to pull back and open his eyes.

Tony consigns Steve’s dazed expression to memory, and then flips his glasses back down. “Thanks, that’ll do it.” He taps Steve’s shoulder, all friendly-like, and then makes his exit to find Clint and Wanda.

Tony also knows damn well how good his ass looks in this suit.

+

The talk with Wanda is brief and awkward, but no one tries to kill anyone, so Tony considers it a win.

There’s a couple more wins in the days that follow, too: Sam Wilson comes in on a permanent basis, Rhodey finalizes his timeshare agreement between the Avengers and the Air Force, and Fury gives the go-ahead for Vision to join them after some vague SHIELD exam slash hazing ritual that Tony doesn’t want to know about.

All in all, things are going well. The Avengers’ roster is looking decent despite Bruce, Clint and Thor being gone. The Sokovia recovery programs are on-going. The new facility is up and running, and Steve and Natasha are on the ball in figuring out drills for the new line-up. Soon they’ll be back hunting down bad guys in a cohesive way, and hopefully not inadvertently causing any potentially-apocalyptic events.

On a personal front, there’s the matter of Steve. Namely, that Steve’s been staring at Tony. Not always, and not by being too obvious about it, but he has. In briefings, during shared meals, while out on minor missions – every so often Tony’s neck will prickle and he’ll turn around just in time to catch Steve’s contemplative gaze before the other man looks away.

Tony notices, and Steve knows that Tony notices, and it’s all ring-around-the-rosie except where Tony doesn’t feel dizzy at all. He’s pleased, intrigued, and curious as to what – if anything – happens next, but not dizzy.

It’s true that Tony doesn’t have an endgame with this. He’s just making it up as he goes along, like he does a great deal of other things. All he knows is that he feels as accomplished now as he did after Mark II’s first flight, which is pretty awesome feeling to have. Sure, maybe nothing will come out of it in the end, and maybe the power of threes will exert itself and limit that private joke to a good memory. Tony honestly doesn’t mind.

But Tony can sense Steve regrouping. Strategizing, even. (They talk like they always do, sometimes decently and sometimes spouting shit, but every so often Steve would pause thoughtfully, as though having to adjust something in his head.) While the first two incidents could be chalked up to camaraderie and the learning curve of this friendship business, the third was clearly not. Tony kissed Steve with personal intent, and Steve’s a smart enough man to have picked that up.

If Steve never noticed how hot Tony is before, he’s certainly noticing now. Tony would peacock for the guy, except he does that all the time anyway for the whole world, so it’d be a moot point.

The evening after their first proper mission test run with the new line-up, Steve corners Tony on the balcony overlooking the common area. The others are having bonding time down in said common area, and it’s actually looking pretty awkward for the still-minty-fresh group. Tony could join and liven things up, but hanging next to Steve is far more interesting.

“What’d you think?” Steve leans against the railing and gestures with his chin. “Anything you didn’t say in the debrief?”

“We probably need to redo Wanda’s costume from scratch,” Tony says. “It’s hard figuring out what kind of material she needs when we don’t even know exactly how her powers work, you know?”

“She and Vision worked well together, though,” Steve says. “I wasn’t expecting that. Wasn’t going to mention it, in case it makes them self-conscious.”

“Birds of an overpowered feather flock together?”

“Hmm, yeah. And they’re both newcomers, stuck in unfamiliar surroundings.”

“That should be easy for you.” Tony huffs under his breath when Steve looks confused. “Unfamiliar surroundings? Captain Rogers in the 25th Century?”

“Oh.” Steve looks sheepish. “I – yes, that’s… Ah.”

“I’ll take that in a good way.” Tony sips his drink and watches Steve rub the back of his neck self-consciously. “You’re doing better, then.”

“I like to think so.” Steve sounds stubborn, though there’s no one disagreeing with him. “Remember when you told me about the visions that Wanda gave you? I didn’t tell you what she made me see.” Before Tony can say that he doesn’t need to know, Steve continues, “I saw Peggy. Mainly Peggy, but everyone else, everything else I knew back… then. I was back then, and I didn’t think it would… I guess I thought I was doing well, but then I wasn’t.”

“Hey,” Tony says, “the moment I invent a time machine, you’ll be the first to know.”

Steve looks startled, but then relaxes and lets out a laugh. Tony isn’t sure if he even meant that to be funny, but it’s not a bitter laugh, so that’s probably plus.

“That’s not what I need,” Steve says, and try as he might, Tony can only hear honesty in that statement. “Like you said, who has the time to look back?”

“That’s me, though,” Tony says. “You’re you, and there’s no one here can truly understand what you’ve been through. Besides your man Bucky, of course, but he’s not exactly on speed dial.”

Steve shrugs. “I could still talk about it, though.”

“Sure,” Tony says. “There’s Sam, Maria—”

“Maybe I want to talk about it with you,” Steve says. “What’d you think about that?”

Tony blinks, recalibrates, and then sets his drink down with as much languid nonchalance as he can manage. Steve eyes him warily, but breaks into a small smile when Tony says, “Sure, why not.”

And because Tony can sometimes be a good friend, he doesn’t react when Steve inches a little closer and starts talking.

+

Sometimes Tony misses the Malibu house, but staying at Avengers HQ has its perks. Namely: breakfast with a view of Steve freshly-returned from his morning run in too-tight shirts. (It’s true that Tony appreciated said view from practically the start of their acquaintance, but the difference is that now Tony doesn’t grind his teeth while he’s doing the appreciating.)

One morning Tony wanders down from his room in full expectation of this pleasant routine, only to be surprised to find Steve already there, sitting at a table and reading from a tablet. Worse yet, Steve is in casualwear – shirt and slacks, with no tantalizing hint of nipples anywhere.

Tony makes a vague sound in response to Steve’s, “Good morning,” and moves over to the coffeemaker. His rhythm’s already ruined; it’s going to be one of those days.

“So, hey,” Steve says. “You’re familiar with General Thaddeus Ross, aren’t you?”

Definitely one of those days.

“Wow,” Tony says, lifting the now-filled mug to his face and inhaling deeply. “This is definitely my favorite kind of conversation to have first thing in the morning. The answer’s yes, I do, though not as much as Bruce.”

“So there’s this thing—”

“Is it urgent? Because he’s one of those guys that you – I – need to be firing on all cylinders for, and I’m not there yet.”

“I’m going to meet him later today.”

Tony blinks blearily and makes his way to the table, where he sits down. Steve looks solemn. Maybe? He’s not smiling, anyway, and the coffee hasn’t kicked in yet for Tony to do a proper analysis.

“That’s gonna be loads of fun.” Tony takes a sip of his drink. “Anything to be worried about?”

“I’m hoping not, but I made the mistake of rereading his file.”

Tony nods. “I put a lot of work in that file. What’re you going to see him for?”

“He asked to see me,” Steve says. “Not much time to prep, which could be on purpose so to keep me off-balance. Natasha did some digging, and it turns he’s been doing some digging into Sokovia, Casablanca, Lima, among others.”

“All our greatest hits?”

Steve nods. “Looks like it.”

“Okay, so here’s the thing.” Tony puts his mug down, and tries to set his expression into something supportive. “We – the Avengers – we’ve been in your hands from day one, and even including the occasional moment where I disagree with you with every fiber of my being, you haven’t steered us wrong. If Ross is up to anything, I know you’ll peel it apart like you did with SHIELD – maybe faster, ‘cause he’s actually far less subtle than me. And if by chance there is trouble, that’s what the rest of us are for.”

Steve smiles ruefully. “Yeah. Thanks, Tony.”

“Oh and make sure he doesn’t stick any needles in you. The fact that you still exist must piss him off. The guy wanted the serum so badly.”

“It’s a good thing I’m not in the habit of letting anyone stick needles in me then,” Steve says dryly.

Tony waves a hand vaguely. “It’s just one of those things. Wipe your nose, wash your hands, no needles. Anything else, Steve?”

“Yeah,” Steve says. “I was thinking I could use some luck as well.”

Tony is suddenly wide awake.

It’s funny how instantaneous that is. Where he was groggy a second ago, he’s now hyperaware of the fact that Steve is just about an arm’s length away, and sitting stiffly. In fact, for a moment Steve even looks nervous, but then it’s gone and replaced by the oft-familiar determined scowl.

Tony waits, and is rewarded by Steve leaning forward in his chair, a hand reaching out to take Tony’s mug out of his hands and set it aside. After that there’s a strange moment where Steve’s hands hover in the air, and Tony says, “You need some help there, buddy?”

“Just give me a sec,” Steve says.

“I’m sure it played out perfectly in your head, am I right?”

Steve stops, glares at Tony, then grabs his waist for a firm yank upwards that has them both on their feet. Tony lets out a whistle of surprise, and recovers just enough to throw his arms around Steve’s shoulders when Steve comes in for his kiss.

There are a great many details to register, but most immediate of all is Steve’s single-minded fervor. Tony’s been witness to Steve like this before – in the field, during rescues, when someone cuts him off in traffic. Tony had thought about what it would be like to have Steve’s focus on him in this context, and while Tony’s imagination is pretty damn good, the reality is better.

Steve is relentless. The kiss is hot and open-mouthed, and there’s good draw-and-push, Steve changing the angle in keeping it interesting. Steve’s chest is solid, his shoulders great to cling to. His hair feels good between Tony’s fingers. Steve’s hands are not tentative at all – they’re firm where they grasp Tony’s sides. Steve’s thumbs draw strong, twin lines down Tony’s ribs, making him shudder.

A part of Tony wants to be irritated because it doesn’t seem fair that Steve be a good kisser on top of everything else; the rest of Tony is just enjoying being kissed by a Steve who really, really means it.

It feels a little like that first lift into flight. There’s the same sense of breathlessness, the same rush down his spine. There’s even that sensation of the world tilting wildly when – no, wait, that’s Steve moving him, setting him flat on the table and pressing down on him. Tony’s legs fall open, and he hooks one foot around the back of Steve’s thigh, making it clear that he’s not going anywhere.

Steve presses a hand against Tony’s stomach, his thumb finding a line of revealed skin. Tony retaliates by drawing his fingernails down the strong planes of Steve’s clothed back, making him groan. It’s a good sound.

Then it ends. Steve pulls back, so sharply that Tony’s lips smart and the back of his head knocks the table.

“Ow,” Tony says, but Steve’s not looking at him. Tony cranes neck up and to the side, following Steve’s line of sight. There are other people in the room, standing frozen by the open doorway. Tony spots Natasha first, since she’s at the front, and says, “Oh, hey guys.”

Natasha seems to recover first, and walks past them on the way to the coffeemaker. “So we did that scouting exercise, it was pretty good.”

“That’s… good,” Steve says. He lifts a hand in a half-wave at the others – Sam, Rhodey and Wanda, who finally file into the room proper.

“Hey,” Tony says, tapping Steve’s chest. “Up, up.”

Steve starts and clambers off of Tony, who bounds back up onto his feet and tugs his shirt back into place. Tony catches Rhodey’s unimpressed face, so he says, “Don’t you worry, you’re still my favorite—”

“Watch it,” Steve says.

Tony looks at Steve, startled. Unexpected warmth blooms in his chest, just below where the arc reactor used to be. “—Rhodes. He’s my favorite Rhodes. You’re my favorite… something else.”

Steve nods. “So, I was telling Tony about Ross.”

“It’ll be fun,” Natasha says.

“That’s what I said.” Tony recovers his sadly-neglected coffee while Steve and Natasha talk about the meeting with Ross, with Sam and Rhodey occasionally chiming in. Apparently Sam has feelings, and doesn’t like the idea of Ross cornering Steve by himself, yadda yadda, it’s all very interesting.

When Wanda finally decides to speak it, it’s to say, “So does this mean that team fraternization is not frowned upon?”

“That’s a good question, Wanda,” Steve says, somehow sounding like he really means it. “To begin with, we’re all adults here—”

“I’ll take this one,” Natasha says.

“You sure?” Steve asks.

“Yeah,” Natasha says easily. “I’m the pioneer on that, after all.”

“Thanks. I’m going to go over the files one more time.” Steve squeezes Natasha’s shoulder when he passes by her. “See you all later? Right.”

Tony watches over the rim of his mug as Steve exits the room, looking fine as hell and very barely disheveled. Tony then carefully consumes the rest of his drink, one sip at a time, while around him other conversations continue unheeded. Tony could pay attention, but he doesn’t want to.

Rhodey is sitting almost directly opposite Tony at the table, nursing his own helping of coffee. His expression is familiar – analytical, perplexed, and only very mildly judgmental. Tony couldn’t have hoped for better.

“Okay,” Tony says, once his mug is empty. He gets up, puts the mug in the sink, and heads for the doorway. “Carry on, everyone. I’m going to go do… things.”

“I don’t know, man,” Sam drawls. “Looked like things was gonna do you.”

“That!” Tony points at him, “is crude and unnecessary. Rhodey, defend my honor.” He’s out the door before he can hear Rhodey’s response.

There’s also the part where Steve was apparently just hanging out just beyond the door, because he’s there and grabbing at Tony as soon as said door swings shut. Though surprised, Tony recovers quickly enough to spin them so it’s Steve who’s shoved up against the wall when they kiss.

The angle’s a little different like this – their mouths slot together differently, and Tony gets to move around this way and that, keeping Steve guessing and trying to chase him. Of course, Steve gets back at Tony by touching him, running his big ‘ol hands down Tony’s back like he hopes to mark his skin clear through the band shirt.

They kiss until they’re panting, until Tony’s pants are tight and his nipples ache, which is of course the best time for Tony to pull back and speak.

“Gotta know, Steve.” Tony tries not to grin too hard at the way that Steve has to shake his head to focus. “This too forward?”

“Forward?” Steve echoes.

“This.” Tony grabs at Steve’s belt, which has Steve’s whole body jerking. “Thing is – I’m, well, me. But you… How’s your impulse control?”

Steve rolls his eyes. “I thought you’d already figured out that this wasn’t an impulsive decision.”

“Just double-checking,” Tony says airily. “So… what time’s your meeting?

“Later.”

“How much later?”

“Enough.”

+

They end up in Steve’s room, because it’s closer. It’s a decent room – Tony knows, he designed it – but it feels like some strange, alien land where strange, alien things happen. Things like imminent sex with Steve Rogers. It doesn’t seem right that Tony’s finding this surreal when he flies around regularly in a metal suit and knows actual aliens.

Maybe it’s the shield. It’s propped up against the wall, and is the only distinct spot of color in a room of mostly-neutrals. Tony tries and fails to throw his shirt on it.

“What are you doing?” Steve’s clad only in snug grey boxer-briefs, looking the world like some model that’s about to shame Tony into buying a few crates of cotton-blend underwear.

“It’s like it’s watching me,” Tony says.

The bed dips when Steve climbs on it, moving on his knees until he’s close enough to cup Tony’s chin. Steve guides Tony’s face up so that he’s looking him right in the eye, and then says in that calm, friendly-threatening voice of his: “You’re supposed to be paying attention to me, not the shield, nor anything else.”

“Oh that’s hot,” Tony breathes out in a rush. He grabs at Steve, pulling at his forearms, biceps, shoulders, until he’s close enough that Tony can scramble onto his lap and take his mouth again. Steve makes a broken-off sound and lets him, lips parting for Tony’s exploration.

Like this, Tony can touch Steve’s face, his fingertips like scaffolding holding Steve in place for some solid making out. One kiss turns to two to three and more, each one deeper and sloppier than the one before it.

Elsewhere, Steve’s hands move over Tony’s body, learning the shape of him. His palms slide across Tony’s shoulder blades, down his spine, along the rise of his ass. The touch is firm and methodical –no hesitation whatsoever – as though Steve has made it his mission to memorize every part of Tony.

“You like that,” Steve says against Tony’s mouth, when there’s a break for air. “Me touching you like this.”

“I like lots of things.”

“Sure, but this—” Steve drags two fingers in a line across Tony’s lower back, making him gasp, “—you really like this.” It doesn’t sound like a tease, or even some sort of foreplay to get Tony off. It just sounds like a really interesting fact that Steve has decided to voice out loud simply because it’s interesting.

Tony draws back a little so to look at Steve properly – his eyes are dark and focused. Though Tony’s body is thrumming, it feels right to pause and bask a little. Although Tony’s been aware of Steve’s recently-new level of scrutiny, he hadn’t wondered just how deep that scrutiny might have gone. Steve may be a little nervous, but he’s not unprepared. He’s thought about this all the way past kisses. (Hot.)

Tony lets his gaze move downwards, over that lovely chest, to the lovely abs, to the grey underwear. While Steve watches, Tony reaches down and pulls the elastic outward – Steve’s breath hitches – and nods.

“That settles it,” Tony says. “You gotta let me ride that.”

Steve raises an eyebrow. “Or we could wrestle for it.”

“What.”

“I kinda had my heart set on taking you while you’re on your back.”

“Excuse you,” Tony says, ignoring the little flip in his stomach at the suggestion. “Why do you get to decide?”

“Because you started it, and I think it’d be fair for you to concede it.”

“No I didn’t, you’re the one who mauled my mouth before I finished my coffee.”

Before that,” Steve says, hands tightening deliciously around Tony’s waist. “You started it, you put the idea in my head and then sat back and watched.”

Tony laughs. “Oh, so now you’re blaming me for this, too?”

“Not ‘blaming’,” Steve says mildly. “’Crediting’. I’m crediting you. Also, it’s kinda win-win, isn’t it?”

This fucker could be damn smooth when he wanted.

Fine,” Tony says. “You’re just lucky I like you.”

Tony can’t say that when he woke up this morning he’d thought he’d find himself in Steve’s bed with two of Steve’s fingers up his ass today, but that’s what’s happening. The world’s still full of surprises.

Steve is very careful, to Tony’s complete non-surprise. The lube was warmed properly, and Steve’s fingers are a steady, unhurried pressure inside him. Tony breathes through it, and lets Steve distract him by nosing at his neck and lapping at his nipples. Tony could probably get off with just fingers, but Steve’s moving too slowly and shallowly for that.

Tony starts when Steve’s mouth moves towards the grafted skin over where the arc reactor used to be. Steve looks up, asking quietly, “That okay?”

Tony nods, and swallows when Steve kisses the space there gently.

“That’s – I’m good,” Tony says. “You can – God, please, I’m ready, we’re gonna miss lift-off.”

Tony wasn’t kidding about wanting to ride Steve, because he truly does want to, and hopes to in the near future. For now, though, he doesn’t mind lying back and watching Steve rise up onto his knees, making himself comfortable between the open V of Tony’s legs. Steve is strong and beautiful, and his dick sways heavy between lightly-dusted thighs. It’s better to watch Steve’s face, though, with its concentration and care when he gets his hands under Tony’s thighs and lifts him.

“Oh, okay,” Tony says breathlessly. He’s seen Steve’s strength in action a thousand times over, but it’s another to have it used on him this way, manhandled into place for Steve’s taking. One leg goes over Steve’s shoulder, and the other around his waist – the asymmetry is a little annoying, but Tony knows the view from Steve’s side must be spectacular.

Steve lets out a low breath and adjusts Tony’s knee on his shoulder. “Okay, this looked easier in videos.”

Tony laughs. “Did you do homework?”

“It was on my list.”

“I gotta see that list.”

“Maybe if you ask really nicely.” Steve bites his lower lip thoughtfully, and then starts pressing in.

It’s big. Tony had a good look at it, so he knows, but there’s a still a moment where it feels like there’s no way, that’s impossible. Then Tony thinks: fuck that, I’m Iron Man – and arches his back, guiding his body into a relaxed pose, and then Steve’s sliding right on in. A few hitches of Steve’s hips, and then his thighs settle right up against Tony’s body.

“Big boy,” Tony says thickly.

“Sorry,” Steve says.

“Don’t be.” Tony takes a few deep breaths, and then lets himself really feel it. Steve’s dick is inside him, thick and solid. Tony can practically feel his body readjusting, parsing the pressure as less of an invasion and more of a benefaction. That cock is getting right up and personal with some of Tony’s favorite places, and he’s going to enjoy it.

At Tony’s nod, Steve starts to move. It’s slow and careful, and the drag of the shaft is delicious against Tony’s opening. Tony doesn’t think of himself as a size queen, but he finds that he’s really enjoying the inescapable pressure of Steve’s dick. Tony can feel how tight he is, how his opening is wrapped taut around Steve’s cock as it plunges in deep.

“Okay, yeah,” Tony sighs. “There we go.”

Steve fucks him like he could do this all day, which he very well literally could, if he wanted. He breathes like he’s on a marathon, too – in through his nose and out through his mouth like some super soldier metronome. Tony considers making a joke about fuck machines, but everything stops being funny when Steve figures out the trick about changing angles.

“Ah fuck,” Tony hisses. Steve grins – a brief flash of his pearly whites – and then he’s upping his speed.

It’s almost too much. There’s just pleasure rolling over Tony like waves, and the only thing he can hope to do is take it like a man. Tony moans, sighs, digs his fists into the bedsheets, makes stupid sex faces that he hopes Steve doesn’t mind. He tosses his head and cries out when Steve presses his thumb against Tony’s perineum, sending another lick of pleasure rushing up Tony’s spine.

It builds and builds. Tony rises with it, feeling drunk and ecstatic because Steve’s dick is a freaking masterpiece. If Steve ever wanted to do it all day, Tony’s totally game because his body obviously fucking needs it. He needs to be opened, taken and explored, and made helpless by it.

“Don’t stop,” Tony grits out.

Steve apparently takes that to mean that he can put his hands on Tony’s hips, yanking him onto his cock in time with his thrusts. Tony yelp-laughs, because that is splendiferous, and obviously Steve is some deep-cover evil mastermind out to drive Tony insane with pleasure.

The familiar crest approaches, so Tony reaches up to grab his cock, but Steve makes an annoyed sound and smacks it away. Steve wraps his lube-damp hand around Tony’s erection for a quick pull, and the pressure around Tony’s cock is so sudden that he comes immediately.

The white-hot bliss stretches on. Tony rides it for as long as he can, until it finally ebbs away and he flops back onto the sheets, gasping for breath. He looks up at Steve, feeling dazed and kinda stupid, and not at all minding Steve’s self-satisfied smile.

When he’s regained enough muscle coordination, Tony adjusts his position, bracing his upper back on the mattress, and then holds himself open for Steve.

“Go get ‘em,” Tony says.

Another surprise for the day is how unselfconscious Steve is. He gives Tony a small lopsided smile, and then just goes to town, chasing his pleasure in Tony’s body. Tony watches, enthralled, as Steve gives in to the sensations with abandon, his thrusts getting quicker and shallower until he stiffens, body flush against Tony’s.

Steve isn’t loud like a Tony. He makes a sharp, almost pained sound, and that’s followed by a long, pleased sigh. It’s probably an army thing, though Tony thinks he could get Steve to change it up if he had the chance.

Tony folds his hands behind his head and waits. Steve’s still half-curled over him, almost animal-like, but then slowly unfolds himself. He tilts his head back and flexes like some ridiculous golden-hued statue. The illusion is broken a little – in a good way – when Steve exhales and says, “Shit.”

“Language,” Tony says automatically.

“Fuck off.” Steve smiles, and then carefully pulls out of Tony and lays him down. There is no awkwardness in his movements; in fact, Steve seems nothing but self-assured when he stretches himself over Tony like a great big blanket, and kisses him softly. Steve’s still smiling when he pulls away and wanders off to the bathroom to clean himself up.

Tony should probably join him, but he slips into a light doze instead. Everything is quiet, even the inside of his head. It’s nice.

He startles awake when Steve returns, settling against Tony’s side and propped up with one hand.

“Here’s what I suggest,” Steve says. “You’re going to stop seeing anyone else—”

“Who else would I possibly—” Steve puts a finger on Tony’s lips and he goes quiet, more out of surprise than anything else.

“You’re going to stop seeing anyone else, because you’re going to be seeing me. ‘Seeing me’ would include doing this—” Steve lifts a hand in a gesture over the two of them, which presumably means more sexy fun times, “—but other couple-type activities as well. I won’t ask for anything in public if you’re not okay with that, but I’d like to be able to talk about it.”

“What,” Tony says with a laugh, “you wanna wine and dine me?”

“Yes,” Steve says.

Tony tries to imagine it, and fails. Despite his incredible depth of knowledge, Tony’s brain is unable to conjure up an accurate estimation of Steve in full-on courtship mode. What on earth would that be like? And would it be like for Tony to try to fall in with that? This is unchartered territory.

“Okay, sure,” Tony says.

Steve’s face brightens, and Tony’s chest goes funny in ways he can’t blame an arc reactor for. “That’s a yes?”

“Yeah. Sounds like could be fun.” Tony’s eye falls on the shield, still watching them from its spot by the wall. “Some people aren’t going to be happy.”

Steve’s smile turns sharper. “I know.”

Tony laughs. “You’ve already thought about it. Of course you have, you big ‘ol shit stirrer.”

“What can I say?” Steve’s expression is so pleased that Tony can’t help but reach up and boop his nose. Steve keeps smiling. “Gotta keep ‘em on their toes.”

Tony nods. “If it’s Captain America’s idea, then it must be a good one.”

“Oh please. You can’t stand Captain America.”

“True,” Tony says. “Steve Rogers is pretty cool, though.”

“Yeah?” Steve says. “Well, I think you’re pretty neat, too.”

Tony’s face scrunches up. “Neat? I’m neat? What, what does that even—”

He’s cut off when Steve laughs and rolls on top of him, and then there’s not much talking again for a while.