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He tried to open his mouth to breathe, and instead realized that he had somehow made it across the shop and was now in the process of kissing Tony stupid, so breathing wasn't technically an option.

He should probably rewind a bit.

It all started with Tony, like most of Steve's migraines did, and that God forsaken tank top of his, like most of Steve's sexual frustrations did.

To be fair, Tony looked good in just about anything. Even the Iron Man armor had a certain stylistic appeal, despite that fact that it covered literally everything; the armor was power and style, Tony at his most heroic. Tony had been doing tests lately in an attempt to make it easier to hold onto Steve in battle, which resulted in them doing a number of test flights. Steve had always loved to fly, so he certainly got a hell of a kick out of it, but what he remembered more was the utterly gleeful look on Tony's face when they'd landed and he'd peeled the helmet back. The suit didn't just enable Tony to be a hero, it made him feel free, and it showed on his face on the occasions he removed his helmet or opened the faceplate. Those bright, easy smiles were some of Steve's favorites.

While monkey suits didn't free Tony the way the armor did, he did look utterly stunning in them. Tony had more suits than Steve had imagined possible, a new one for nearly every event. He was comfortable in them, clearly, and it translated well. Tony was the very picture of the roguish billionaire then, devilishly charming and far too dashing for his own good as he impressed the crowds or smooth-talked his investors or impishly, amicably bickered with reporters. Tony in the armor was free; Tony in a suit was powerful. It was easy to forget, sometimes, just how respected and feared the man was outside the Tower's walls. A suited Tony was a Tony armed against the world; his hair would always be perfectly styled, his beard shaved precisely, his eyes sharp and clear.

However, Tony looked just as good with all his masks stripped away, if not better. Each Avenger had their own set of traumas, and Steve had bumped into an insomnia-troubled Tony more than once while battling his own nightmares. They'd watch movies or play chess or whatever came to mind, and Steve couldn't help noticing how effortlessly handsome Tony looked shuffling around in sleep pants, hair mussed and eyes bleary. A sleepy Tony was a vulnerable Tony, vulnerable in a way Steve had never seen him be around anyone else. It made Steve want to hoist him into his arms and carry him right back to bed, tuck him in and kiss him goodnight and curl around him for protection, chase away any bad dreams that dared follow.

He never said his desires were rational.

These were all looks Steve appreciated on Tony; how could he not? Tony was a gorgeous man, he could turn a paper bag into a provocative fashion statement. Regardless of how much Steve may have enjoyed Tony's other looks, however, that Goddamn tank top was a unique sort of hell and Steve may or may not have been a masochist.

Part of it was just how much he enjoyed seeing Tony in his workshop. The shop was Tony's element; he came to life down there, became something electric all his own, manic and inspired and breathtakingly sexy with a streak of grease across his cheek and a pair of welding goggles pushing his hair back. The wild look he got in his eyes never failed to make Steve's libido climb and his heart stutter with the nearly staggering desire to be on the other end of a look like that. Tony in his workshop was fire, was passion, and that stupid tank top didn't help.

God, that stupid tank top.

It hugged Tony perfectly, stretching snugly from hipbone to hipbone, plastered tight against his skin like a lover. It rumpled up every time Tony so much as breathed differently, flashing the ever-watchful Steve little bits of skin he absolutely could not stop obsessing over. It was challenging and intoxicating, catching each new piece for himself and putting it all together on paper like a puzzle.

Drawing helped, sometimes. Drawing gave him a task to finish and a reason to watch Tony work, one that didn't make him feel like quite so much of a pervert. Not that he was, or anything. It wasn't as if he would ever do anything untoward, watch Tony change or stare at him in the communal showers, nothing like that. That was wrong, but watching Tony like this, sweaty and grease-mussed, clad in tight jeans and that ridiculous tank top…it was a loophole. Tony was clothed, of course, and he knew Steve was there, Steve wasn't doing anything wrong. He was just enjoying himself a little more than Tony was probably aware of.

He watched hungrily as a familiar strip of tan skin appeared once again, smooth but for the curve of a hipbone, then disappeared as Tony stopped stretching and his shirt slipped back down. Bare stomach now covered, Steve's gaze trailed back up to Tony's arms. They weren't overtly muscular, large or bulky like Steve's own, but there was an undeniable power to them. He stretched, swinging his arms from side to side, then bent backwards until even Steve could hear the pop of his back from across the shop.

The noise startled Steve back into awareness, and he quickly averted his gaze. If Tony was stretching it meant he was coming out of his inventing spree, which meant he was bound to look up any moment now; it wouldn't do for Steve to get caught gawking. He returned to filling out the figure on paper, a shallow likeness of the man in front of him. He shaded in the planes along the back of Tony's neck, sharpened up the angles of his shoulder blades as they might look without a far too tight tank top.

Steve paused, tapped his pencil along the edge of the paper. For accuracy's sake he probably ought to sketch that damn tank top in as well, but he supposed it wasn't as if anyone else was going to see the drawing. Frankly, that thing tortured him enough here in the workshop, he didn't need it in his own notebook, too.

"Ugh," Tony announced, dropping bonelessly on the couch and kicking his feet up into Steve's lap. Steve ever so casually flicked to a blank page in his notebook and began sketching Natasha instead, just in case. Tony didn't notice, too busy shooting halfway back up to wave a finger threateningly at Dum-E over the back of the couch. "Touch that again you dumbass bot, I dare you! I'll invent a disintegration ray purely to dissolve you with, just watch me!"

"Clint's arrows not coming along so well?" Steve chuckled.

"Only because he's so goddamn picky," Tony grouched, "He's not happy just to get new arrows, he wants specific shit. He wants me to make him something he's calling sticky arrows, which, okay, admittedly useful in theory, but anything sticky enough to pose a threat is sticky enough to muck up the inside of the canister it's stored in. So I'm trying to reverse-solve the problem, design something I can slick up the inside of the canisters with that'll negate the stickiness long enough to be launched, but so far everything I've come up with negates the stickiness of the material permanently, which of course makes the actual arrows useless."

"Yikes. Mental health break?" Steve offered.

"Yes," Tony stretched out comfortably, wiggling his socked feet at Steve.

"You heard me correctly, right?" Steve raised a dubious eyebrow at him. "When I said 'mental health break' and not 'foot massage'?"

"Foot massage?" Tony quirked his head innocently. "Oh, well, if you're offering."

"Spoiled brat." Steve shook his head with a chuckle, but put his notebook aside and picked up one of Tony's feet anyway. Tony grinned triumphantly as Steve began kneading. "You really should wear shoes down here."

"But then you don't give me massages."

"You could take your shoes off."

"But that invol—ohh, that's good."


"Work." Tony gave a pleased groan. "Christ, your hands are magnificent. Have I ever told you you're a god among men?"

"More times than I'm entirely certain what to do with."

"Good. I—mm."


"I'm going to erect a monument in your honor: Steve Rogers, master masseuse."

"Will that be before or after Steve Rogers, coffee king?"

"After commander Christmas, before bowling badass."

"I'm not certain 'badass' and 'bowling' belong in the same sentence."

"Well, I wasn't certain Doctor Doom could be defeated with a bowling ball but you sure proved me wr—motherfucker do that again."

"That's not very polite."

"Shut up and do it again before I add sergeant sassmaster to the list."

"Can I be a sergeant and a master at once?"

"I'm not kidding Rogers, if you don't can the sass and do that again I'm going to have Dum-E hit you with a face full of—oh sweet baby Jesus."

"I didn't know Dum-E was religious."

"Why do I even put up with you?" Tony groaned, throwing his arm over his face. Then, when Steve did it again, he moaned loudly.

"That's why," Steve informed him with a grin.

"That is not even close to why I put up with you," Tony muttered into the crook of his arm.


"Don't give me that look, you smug bastard."

"How do you know what look I'm giving you? You can't even see my face."

"I don't need to see you to know what look you're making. I have a radar. Also, you make voices."

"I make faces and voices, do I?"

"I'm seriously debating the worth of this massage right now," Tony complained. Steve dug his thumb into Tony's right arch. "Oh fuck me."

"You'll have to ask nicer than that, Tony, really."

"I'll throw you a fucking parade if you want," Tony promised. Steve couldn't resist a snort. Tony caught his drift and laughed aloud. "Pun not intentional, I swear."

"I find that's rarely true, with you."

"Fair enough. Really though, a 'fucking parade' would be totally gaudy. I'd be classy as shit."

"Mm." Steve only hummed in response. He knew better than to take Tony seriously. Flirting with Tony was fun, but he wasn't stupid and he didn't dare let it go to his head.

"I mean it! I'd get like, roses. No, roses are too cliché, I'd get—no, I totally know what I'd get, I'd get roses and violets and daffodils, have someone arrange them like your shield. That's cute, right?"

"Daffodils are yellow, Tony. And violets are more purple than blue—"

"Shut up, I'd ask for help. The point is that I can be cute. I can be cute as fuck. I'd get a red white and blue bouquet, and I'd take you on, I don't know, what do old people do on first dates? A picnic or something. There'd be champagne and your favorite sandwich and like ten bags of chips because frankly you eat like a caveman—"

"My metabolism—"

"Is four times mine, blah blah blah, you're still a messy eater, shut up and marvel at how cute I can be." Tony hushed him with a wave of his hand. "So you'd eat your three sandwiches and ten bags of chips, and then I'd make up some excuse for us to lie down, cloud-watching or some shit, partially so I could lie really close to you and maybe cop a feel, mostly so you could see that I hired a skywriter to write—"

"To write 'fuck me' in the sky," Steve finished. He couldn't help it, he laughed.

"To write 'fuck me, please' in the sky," Tony corrected proudly, a delighted grin on his face, "You know me too well, though you forget far too often what a class act I truly am."

"Alright, alright, you win. You're very classy, Tony," Steve chuckled with an amused shake of his head.

"Damn straight." Tony kicked him with his free foot. "And cute, don't forget cute."

"Very cute, too." Steve tickled the foot he had in his grasp, and Tony made a rather high-pitched noise that was half-laugh, half-indignation, and kicked Steve again, this time harder.



"You think I won't get you back for that?" Tony challenged.

"I think you're lazy and won't move so long as I'm still massaging you."

"I am not lazy, I am a hard-working genius who has earned a few moments of rest and recuperation, you Neanderthal."

"Neanderthal, that's a new one. I was expecting 'lug'."

"You are a lug," Tony told him decisively, sitting up enough to wiggle his fingers along Steve's side. Steve released Tony's foot to grab his hand.

"Don't start a fight you can't win, Tony," he warned.

A long moment stretched thin between them, neither willing to back down or break eye contact.

"You may win the fight but you won't win the war," Tony declared, yanking his hand free and launching himself across the couch to tickle Steve mercilessly.

It took Steve ten minutes, four couch cushions, and one definitely classified military maneuver to finally wrangle Tony into submission. For someone who whined his way through workouts, Tony was surprisingly wily when he was fighting for his pride. He still lost, of course, but Steve was impressed. He said as much.

"Oh, go fuck yourself, Rogers," Tony just panted, "And maybe get your fat supersoldier ass off me while you're at it."

"Is that you admitting defeat?" Steve smirked, not relinquishing his grip on Tony's wrists quite yet. He had the man he was utterly enamored with sweaty, tank-top-clad, and pinned to the floor; he was allowed to savor the moment a little.

"Battle not the war, you stubborn jackass."

"And what exactly do I have to do to win the war?" Steve snorted. "I've got you completely pinned."

"I will win the war," Tony challenged, a familiar fire lighting in his eyes, "Trust me. I'm nearly there, I can feel it."

"Nearly where?" Steve laughed. "You want to hit the gym, see how many more times it takes me pinning you to turn the tide?"

"Not that kind of war, Cap." Tony just grinned up at him.

Briefly, Steve was so, so damn tempted. He was already straddling Tony. It would barely take half a second to bend close enough. Half of a second, and he'd know how that beautiful grin felt against his own. Half of a second, and he'd lose his closest friend. Steve discarded the thought and rolled off Tony with a gusty sigh.

"What's with the face?" Tony clapped a hand to his shoulder, used it to push himself up.

"Nothing." Steve shook his head. "Business. I remembered I've got work to do at SHIELD this afternoon."

"Course you do." Tony chuckled, clambering to his feet as well. "Don't let me hog all the great Captain America's time. Go kick ass or file paperwork, whatever it is you do all day."

"I'll do my best." Steve nodded.

Tony was already moving back towards his worktable, waving commands to JARVIS. Steve watched him go, the usual sense of desire washing over him. It was partially Tony in general, but it was mostly that damn tank top; the thing pretty much always taunted him with it's flimsy, Tony-hugging existence, but now it was rucked up from their wrestling match. It was bunched enough that Steve could see the slight dip along the small of Tony's back, and he had to shove down the immediate flare of desire to fit his hand there.

So, for the record, he blamed that fucking tank top.

He was so damn busy simultaneously looking at it and attempting not to look at it, that he didn't realize what he was doing until, well.

Until he tried to open his mouth to breathe, and instead realized that he had somehow made it across the shop and was now in the process of kissing Tony stupid, so breathing wasn't technically an option.

The kiss seemed to surprise Steve a whole lot more than it did Tony, who had essentially vaulted across the shop to meet him halfway and now dug his hands into Steve's shirt tight enough that if he had superstrength he'd most certainly be ripping it. There was a very small portion of Steve's brain curious what exactly was actually happening here, but it was effectively drowned out by the rest of him screaming for it never, ever to stop. So Steve did what any sane human being would do: he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss, and dropped his hands to Tony's hips to help press him up against the nearest available surface.

Steve's brain remained very effectively off, right up until Tony pulled away long enough to murmur, "Told you I'd win."

Alarms rang in Steve's head—it's just a game, a bet, a joke, it's all a part of the single least funniest joke in the history of the world—and Tony seemed to notice, because he pulled back again.

"You're making a face." Tony frowned. "I mean, you're supposed to be making a smiley face—I was actually kind of hoping to discover a new face entirely—but you're wearing your this-is-confusing-but-I-will-soldier-on face. Which, I should mention, is not exactly flattering."

"What do you win?" Steve hedged.

"What do you mean?" It was Tony's turn to look confused. Steve wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign.

"You were talking about some kind of war, and now you say you win. What do you win?"

"Oh." Tony's frown almost immediately smoothed out to a smile; not a grin or a smirk but a smile, soft and pleased. "You, dumbass. I win you."

"But what was the 'war' about?"

"You're going to laugh," Tony warned, but the smile hadn't quite disappeared from his features.

"Probably," Steve didn't bother to deny it. Tony's mind worked in the strangest of ways, but he wasn't moving away, and that was enough to pacify Steve's nerves for the moment.

"See, thing is, technically, you kissed me," Tony told him.

Steve waited for Tony to finish his reasoning. After a moment, that seemed to be all. Steve leaned in enough to kiss him again, horribly briefly.

"So now you win twice?" Steve asked, trying to understand.

"No—" Tony cut himself off. "Well, yes, you kissing me is always going to be a win of some kind, but I mean, come on, who else on the planet can say Steve Rogers came after them?"

Steve, once again, waited for Tony to get to the "logic" part. It didn't seem forthcoming.

"So, you are interested in me," Steve clarified.

"Well, yeah." Tony snorted. "I'm alive."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I know you want to be loved for your soul—and don't get me wrong, you have a very nice soul—but you also have a very nice ass. And abs. And chest. And general facial region—"

"You're very handsome yourself, Tony." Steve couldn't help a laugh.

"Right, sure, obviously. But I'm charming billionaire handsome, you're legendary war hero handsome; if I hit on you first, it's tacky and expected. If you hit on me first, I'm lucky as hell and can take bragging rights to my grave."

"So you let me think for months that I was a hopeless fool for pining over you just because you wanted bragging rights?"

"Don't say it like that. It sounds stupid like that."

"I'm pretty sure it sounds stupid just about any way you say it—"

"Wait, back up, you pined over me?" Tony perked up.

"You don't have to look so damn gleeful about it." Steve could feel a blush rising on his cheeks, but Tony's grin only brightened.

"You did, didn't you? I thought you were hanging out down here a lot."

"It's that stupid tank top," Steve muttered, shoving it up enough that he could get his hands on the bare skin of Tony's hips underneath.

"Stupid, huh?" Tony smirked a little too knowingly. "Well, I'd take it off, but you're the one always telling me I need to wear more clothes in the shop…"

"Shoes, Tony, I'm always telling you to wear shoes." Steve narrowly resisted the ridiculous urge to whine, instead blurting out, "Could I take it off?"

Tony's teasing stuttered to a pause. He blinked once, twice, and Steve could all but see him attempting to reform a thought process. Finally, he managed a strangled-sounding, "Yes."

Steve didn't waste more time with words, instead immediately shoving that stupid damn tease of a shirt up and over Tony's head. He tossed it aside with as much irritated vigor as he could manage before running his hands gratefully over the wonderfully exposed expanse of skin. Tony was smooth but firm, a little soft around the stomach in the best of ways, and Steve was perfectly content to touch and commit the sight to memory until Tony cleared his throat awkwardly.

"Is there more kissing coming my way, or was this all some elaborate attempt to make sure your sketches were accurate?"

Steve hoisted Tony up in answer, carrying him with ease over to the couch. "JARVIS, black out the glass and lock the door."

"Uh." Tony licked his lips. "So. The whole, go-slow, be-gentle, skirt-around-Steve's-delicate-1940's-sensibilities, that's not a thing?"

"Do I look—" Steve paused long enough to strip off his own shirt, reveling in the slight drop of Tony's jaw and the mildly dazed look in his eyes before kneeling over him. "—like a man with delicate sensibilities to you?"

"Oh, so, I'm dreaming, that's cool too."

"Not dreaming." Steve took Tony's face in his hands, kissed him long and slow, with as much 'realism' as he could muster.

"To be determined," Tony conceded eventually.

"You're ridiculous." Steve just smiled, because he could prove this wasn't a dream in a number of ways and all of them were going to be far more fun than talking about it.

Naked, he knew, would be his favorite look on Tony yet.