Tony did not suffer from PTSD. He'd had a hard time of it right after he'd escaped from the Ten Rings and Obadiah Stane ripping the arc reactor out of his chest in his own living room hadn't helped matters, but he'd worked through it. Sure, he still had the occasional nightmare, but he didn't suffer from the vivid ones common to those dealing with PTSD nor did he have flashbacks or any of the other lesser known symptoms. To make certain he hadn't missed something and was in denial, he'd manned up and consulted a shrink. She'd assured him not everyone who survived a trauma developed PTSD and Tony'd had the advantage of closure since the terrorists who had kidnapped and tortured him were all dead. Lady hadn't known it, but the same could be said of Stane – he'd opted not to share the whole 'betrayal and murder attempt by his father-figure' thing – and Tony had been at least indirectly responsible for the end of all of them. But he wasn't telling her he was Iron Man either. Instead he'd cheerfully paid her bill, then waltzed out secure in the knowledge that he was 1) not an alcoholic and 2) did not suffer from PTSD. This brought him to the last of the big lies.
Tony was not short, damnit! He stood 5 feet 8 inches tall. Okay, so one had to take a generous view of an inch to get the 8, but even if forced to round down to 5'7.5" he was still less than two inches shorter than the average height for a male of his ethnic type. So, not short! Just not tall either. Unfortunately, he worked around a lot of tall people. Even his once assistant, now CEO, Pepper Potts was a full inch … fine, inch and a half taller than him.
He honestly hadn't minded during the brief time they'd dated. They'd discovered romance didn't work for them but she'd turned out to have an amazing mind for business and he'd hired her as his assistant to compensate for his general 'don't fucking give a damn about it' attitude. Over time he decided to hell with it and flat out gave her his job. It was when she'd officially became CEO that he'd come to dislike both her height and the heels she favored. It gave him that same vague feeling of unease he had around the male members of his board of directors – all who happened to be taller than average.
He'd worn lifts whenever he'd dealt with them and recently he'd started wearing them around Pepper, too. He hated the damned things. They felt heavy on his feet and clunky no matter how much he spent on them. Looked stupid, too. Found it all sorts of unfair that a woman put on high heels and looked sexy as hell, but when a man wore them they made him seem vain. Ironic since a vertically-challenged French king had first worn high heels. A Charles or a Louis, he couldn't remember which. In any case, not fair.
And now that he was no longer dying or had to be anything but an eccentric genius, he decided he was damned well going to do something about it. He ended up creating a virtual model of his feet, then he started to play around with designs and materials.
He quickly decided he didn't care for open-toed shoes. Nor did he see the point since he wanted nice shoes not to paint his nails toe or otherwise. Next he saw the value of a basic black pump and came up with one with nice lines. Making it comfortable was the next step. The platform lifts he'd resorted to had felt clunky, but they didn't pinch toes, cause blisters, etc. But if he could develop a flying suit of armor he could damn well design a comfortable pair of four-inch heels.
Wasn't too difficult to do given he could make them specifically for his feet. He even put in a super comfortable lining so he didn't have to wear hose or ruin the effect with socks. Within two weeks of starting his part-time project – he did have enough sense not to back burner SI or Iron Man to design shoes – he stood in front of a mirror admiring the way the shoes looked on his feet. His jeans hid most of them, of course, but he had no more desire to wear a dress than he did to paint his nails. At the same time enough of the shoe was visible to make it clear what he was wearing and he had to admit he was looking forward to the shock that would cause.
It didn't take long for him to get the hang of walking in them and he supposed he had Iron Man to thank for that. After spending a good chunk of the last two years learning how to hold himself steady on mini-thrusters, a spike heal wasn't much of a challenge. So shoes made, check. Able to walk without fear of breaking his neck, check. Now the big question, was he really going to do this?
If he walked out his door in these shoes, the media would go into a frenzy to make Shark Week look dainty. They'd immediately try to tie it to his so-called alcoholism and PTSD. Doubted the 'stylish way to look taller' truth would even occur to any of them. On the other hand, it would feed his inner attention-whore, something he was desperately in need of since he'd opted to keep the fact that he had anything to do with Iron Man out of the public eye. Pepper, Rhodey, plus Fury and a couple of SHIELD's key people were the only ones who knew, and he wanted to keep it that way despite the sometimes almost-overwhelming desire to jump up and down shouting 'It's me! It's me! I'm Iron Man!'
While he tried to decide, he walked around his workshop some more then came to at least one firm conclusion. He should shave his legs if he intended to cross them and flash some ankle. This lead to two more decisions – he liked the feel of shaved legs but getting them to that state was a messy pain in the ass.
He wore his shoes constantly while he worked on a laser hair removal system that 1) didn't hurt and 2) actually worked. He sent the specs to Pep after he finished using it. Doubted she'd want to pursue all the testing needed to get it approved for commercial use, but that was her decision not his.
An hour later she texted him back, Do I even want to know?
He smiled and hopped into his Audi.
She looked behind him like she was trying to find an invisible woman in high heels and her frown deepened. "Tony…"
"Why are you clicking?"
"Usual reason," he answered, sitting down and crossing his legs. It put a shoe on display.
Her eyes widened either because he was a man in high heels or because she was a shoe-whore and they were damned fine looking shoes. Probably a mixture of both.
"Be nice or I won't give you the pair I made for you."
Her jaws snapped shut and he smirked. If there was one thing he knew how to do it was exploit a weakness. He could see her carefully consider her next words, so it didn't surprise him when she came up with a fairly neutral, "Why are you wearing women's shoes?"
"Actually, since I designed them for my foot and made them myself, I'd say they were men's shoes modeled after women's, but why quibble when a picture is worth a thousand words?" He stood up and turned his back to her, letting her take in the effect on his ass and legs which was fairly impressive especially since he'd had a fine version of both to begin with. "I wanted the height and lifts don't do this."
She snorted. "Very nice, but I suspect you just want to give the board ulcers."
"Merely a fringe benefit," he assured her, dropping back into the chair.
"The press will crucify you."
"They already do."
"No one will take you seriously."
"Does anyone anyway?" Between all the buzz of his being an alcoholic suffering from PTSD on top of all the vids out there featuring his drunken sexcapades, his reputation was pretty much set in stone. Fossilized shit might be more accurate. "And who knows, maybe I'll set a fashion trend."
The next morning he had JARVIS sort through the fallout and find anything needing a response beyond the obvious 'fuck you, too.' A few blogs had gone on about the shoes with the author wishing s/he had gotten a better look at them. Tony answered those with a simple photo and comment of 'thanks, made them myself' although he might have used a few more words to convey the sentiment.
And that's how Stark Shoes was born. He streamlined the process enough the output was still far more comfortable than normal high heels while getting the price down from outrageous to ouch, then put them into production. All profits went the Maria Stark Foundation. And that was the last comment Tony had about his shoes.
He still wore them. He just didn't talk about them. Or rather he let them do his talking for him. He'd quickly moved on from basic black – although he still wore those with his tux – to bolder colors. His favorites were the same red and gold as his Iron Man armor and he wore them with his jeans. It was the closest he ever came to publicly admitting he was Iron Man, but since Shellhead was so popular, it was also a wildly successful design so his private joke existed in the anonymity of a sea of many.
Pepper still punched him in the arm. She also insisted he make her a pair.
It made him almost grateful when Fury interrupted his workout to ask him to help save the world. Almost. He might ache to have meaning again, to have something to do besides feel like some dusty old antique, but he hadn't lost his perspective enough for more than a twinge of relief.
He read as much of the briefing packet as he could make heads or tails out of but Iron Man showing up in Germany had been a surprise. Armor was impressive, but the man inside? Too rash in action and too much a mystery in the files for Steve's tastes. Not to mention SHIELD suspected the technology to build the suit had been stolen from Stark Industries. Stark. As in Howard Stark.
No one had told him a thing about his friends until he'd indicated he was ready by asking about them. As he'd suspected they were all dead, including Howard. The man hadn't been a close friend, but he had been a friend which left Steve in no mood to deal with someone who had robbed him. No, not Howard. Howard was long gone, he reminded himself as he fought to stay civil to a thief who considered himself a superhero – securing the prisoner took precedence over personal feelings. Still, he was more than a little relieved when Iron Man gave them all a jaunty salute and disappeared into the bowls of the helicarrier. Again, not impressed and the guy had stolen from Howard's son, Tony.
Fury had mentioned Tony Stark once. "He's one of our consultants," he'd said with a sigh that had sounded downright weary. Steve understood the moment the flurry of motion and sound known as Anthony Edward Stark announced his arrival in the command center with a string of technobabble (Steve had quickly learned the word) that seemed to make everyone's head spin. Well, everyone but Banner's.
The man was all over the place, his stream of words never letting up as he made the large room seem too small to contain him. And … good God, was the man wearing high heels? Steve may have gaped. Stark definitely smirked and did a little twirl in his sparkling pumps. "Like them?" he asked. "Made them in your honor."
Huh? Steve looked closer at the shoes and … oh. Red, white and blue. Subtle. Had the overall look of a pale bluish white, but yes, the individual colors matched his uniform. Perfectly. And that didn't seem much like a coincidence. "You make the uniform, too?"
"Yep, that was me. Although Agent Coulson's input was invaluable," he said flashing a grin in Coulson's direction.
"Taser," Coulson answered with the deadpan expression and tone Steve was rapidly recognizing as his defaults.
Stark actually pouted, then spun again on those ridiculous heels and walked over to Fury's usual position and asked Agent Hill how the director could possibly see everything.
"He turns," she answered.
"Sounds exhausting," he answered, then turned again. "Now, now Captain, my eyes are up here."
Steve blinked and realized he'd been staring at Stark's backside. It made him blush.
"And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why you should choose heels over lifts every single time," he smirked while those big, brown eyes sparkled with mirth.
"Stark," Fury stalked in, interrupting their staring contest, "if you are done embarrassing yourself, maybe we could get back to the crisis at hand."
"Nick," Stark answered walking over to sit on the edge of the table instead of in a chair. Put his legs on display and Steve found himself admiring them even with the denim blocking most of the view. "You know I'm a master of multi-tasking."
Despite it sounding like he intended to keep disrupting things, Stark settled down and they quickly came up with a plan that had him asking Banner if he wanted to go play doctor. Steve knew that euphemism and didn't like it so he quickly convinced himself he needed to check in on them.
He arrived just in time to catch Stark jabbing Banner with something, then looking disappointed when the doctor didn't turn into the Hulk. Steve immediately launched into a tirade about being responsible, but he found himself standing too close to Stark as he delivered it like some muscle-bound bully trying to intimidate the smaller man. Furious with himself he stepped back, but Stark followed keeping the distance between them to less than three inches.
Didn't stop them from arguing and damnit, some of what Stark and Banner were saying made a troubling amount of sense. SHIELD was the only thing keeping Steve grounded in this era and he did not want to believe they might be hiding something, but Stark was right. Fury was a spy.
He stalked out of the lab and went to check on things himself. Disappointed him when he found the weapons, but he couldn't find it in himself to be surprised. He carried one back to the lab only to find Fury had discovered Stark's tampering and was arguing that it was all necessary while Thor watched.
Words flew fast and furious between them all, but somehow he found himself once again squaring off with Stark while standing much too close. Steve's skin felt almost itchy and he heard himself once more dressing down Stark for his lack of responsibility, for not being someone who he wanted around in a crisis.
"Oh, please," Stark snorted, "don't pretend you don't want me to climb you like a tree!"
Steve had no idea what that meant, except his hands had settled on Stark's hips and he found himself lifting at the same time he drew the aggravating man closer.
Legs wrapped around his hips, arms around his shoulders and their lips touched for a brief second. Stark drew his head back and looked at him with those big eyes for a moment, then their mouths crashed back together as they tried to devour each other.
Their groins rubbing together made him harden so quickly his head almost spun and his fingers clutched at the swell of Stark's backside, not wanting to let go at the same time he need to rip off the jeans keeping him from bare flesh.
His hand shifted, reaching for the waistband when the world exploded. Instinctively he turned as he fell shielding Stark from the impact only to twist the moment they hit to cover him as debris rained down around them.
When it stopped, they scrambled to their feet and Stark tried to bolt. "Wait!" Steve hissed, grabbing hold. "We don't know –"
"I need the suit!"
Stark gave him a fast kiss, said, "I'm Iron Man," kicked off his shoes, then darted down the hallway.
He thought back remembering the battle, helping with search and rescue and all of them eating something Stark called shawarma afterwards, then … Stark had said they could all crash in guest rooms in the Tower and somehow that had led to them doing so together. Exhaustion could do strange things to the thought processes. Steve knew that, but on the other end of a long sleep, he found himself unwilling to slip away, so he settled on not moving a muscle as he watched the rise and fall of Stark's chest.
After a few minutes, Stark's voice disrupted the plan. "If I let you cuddle me, can I sleep a few more hours?" It was something between a mutter and a whine and it made Steve smile.
"Fine." He flopped over toward Steve, then snuggled up against him when Steve pulled him closer. "'s nice."
Yes, it was, but after less than an hour hunger made them both drag themselves out of bed. They foraged in a kitchen stocked with non-perishables, took turns showering, then grabbed a few granola bars to eat while they began to explore the remains of Stark Tower.
Turned out it really wasn't too bad. The battle had fanned out around the tower instead of centering on it, so beyond the top few floors and the sign everything was in one piece, and even the top floors were still structurally sound. Tony – he'd become Tony somewhere between the bedtime cuddling and eating cereal out of the same box – looked pleased. "I'll want to do some remodeling, of course," he said, hopping up to sit on the bar, gold lame pumps glittering in the sun.
"I thought the place was brand new?"
"Steve, Steve, Steve," Tony said, his finger hooking in Steve's belt loop and pulling him to stand between Tony's legs. "Destruction is just nature's way of saying 'time to do it even better.'"
He smiled. "My mistake."
Tony hummed and did the thing with the eyes again.
"What?" he asked his attempt at looking innocent effectively ruined by the legs wrapping around Steve's hips. He decided he'd missed the feel of them around him, and his cock rose against the inseam of the jeans he'd found in the guest room. Suspicious that they fit, but he'd been a soldier long enough to know that there were always layers of things going on.
He settled his hands on Tony's ass, and pulled him closer so their erections rubbed together, then kissed him again.
It wasn't as violent or as hungry as the kiss the explosion had interrupted, but the itch under his skin was gone and that made it far better.
"Mmm," Tony hummed his approval, then drew back. "You do realize that Loki's glow stick of evil ramped up our emotions and made us flash forward through possible months of unresolved sexual tension while you worked through all the baggage of being a homosexual in the 1940s. If we'd done it the long way, there might have been tears. Some of them even yours."
"Sorry to disappoint you, but I worked through most of that while I was stationed in Italy." There had been … well, not tears, but he'd definitely done some teeth gnashing. "All Loki's staff did was make me realize I want you no matter how insufferable you are."
Tony grinned. "So you've done this before?"
"No," he answered his hands sliding up the sides of Tony's torso. "Never found the right partner."
Tony's hand slipped between them to cup Steve's groin. "Well, if you want to put this inside me, we need supplies."
He nodded toward an alcove. "Bedroom. Top drawer beside the bed," he answered, then a delighted sounding laugh followed Steve as he hurried off. He heard Tony call, "We need the bottle of lubricant and a condom."
Steve found both, but opted to bring the entire box instead of just one. When he returned he froze in the doorway, taking in the sight waiting for him.
Tony sat exactly where he'd left him, but he'd taken all his clothes off except for the shoes. He'd crossed his shapely legs, but the glistening tip of his erection was still visible. Steve almost dropped the 'supplies.'
The fumble made Tony laugh again and he shifted so he was lying lengthwise on the bar, his ass at the edge, his hands pulling his legs up, then apart to give Steve a view of his groin and hole. Steve got over to him so quickly, he didn't remember moving. "What do I do?"
"You need to get me wet and stretched." Tony talked him through it – lube, then one figure, two, three fingers and he soon had Tony writhing on them. "Enough! Just fuck me!"
His hands were surprisingly steady as he unzipped, then slipped on the condom. He helped Tony drape his legs over Steve's shoulders, then leaned down and kissed him. For all his wanton wiggling, Tony eagerly accepted the kiss, even whimpered when Steve pulled back.
He couldn't help smiling at the way Tony looked at him with such … hungry awe. "You are beautiful," he whispered, his hands slipping under Tony's hips to lift him up. Their bodies perfectly aligned, Steve began his first push into another person's body.
Tony moaned a deep, gratified sound and the smoothness of his high heels shifted against Steve's back. Made him come before he was even all the way inside the man, but the serum had advantages off a battlefield and he stayed hard as he continued his slow push into the snug heat.
When not balanced on his enticing heels, Steve found Tony the perfect height for deep, hungry kisses at the same time he began thrusting. In and out, hands sliding along all that lovely lightly-tanned skin, it almost overwhelmed his senses, but he refused to allow it. He wanted to feel and savor everything about this time, this man.
Tony clutched at him, his soft moans of pleasure a heady sound that reassured Steve he was getting this right. "God," Tony hissed when Steve shifted his hips, slightly changing the angle of his thrusts. For a moment he worried he'd hurt Tony, but the hands on his shoulders tightened. "Do that again."
Oh, okay, he could do that. He soon had Tony writhing in a way that from this day on would be Steve's mental definition of the word, and on the sixth or so thrust, Tony clenched around him and hot fluid spread between their torsos. 'I did that,' Steve thought and the idea added to the sensation pushed him over the edge himself.
They both clutched at each other for a few moments, the sound of Tony's heartbeat slowly calming matching his own. And through it all Steve couldn't stop gazing at Tony's face. Those big eyes and that ridiculous beard had to be the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. And … wow, he had it bad.
For a moment he felt very vulnerable and an utter fool who had obviously let his feelings go tumbling into the mix too far and too fast. But once again Tony came to his rescue with a smile and a soft, "So perfect partner, then?"
In those big, brown eyes he saw the same hopeful nervousness fluttering in his own belly and he smiled. Crazy fast, but like Tony had said, Loki's scepter had sped everything up between them. "Yeah, I think you are."
Tony smirked. "Course I am, Cap. I'm me."
Steve snorted and helped the other man get to his feet. Couldn't help but drink in the sight of all that bare skin adorned with nothing but Tony's own seed and the gleaming heels. "So what happens now?"
"Hmm, well, there are things that we could be doing, things we even should be doing, but I think I'm going back to bed for a few hours."
Huh? Steve gave him a curious look. Had he tired Tony out that much?
Another smirk, then Tony turned and walked back toward the elevator that lead to the guest room they'd slept in. He paused after a few steps, then glanced over his shoulder to give Steve a look he could only describe as 'come hither.' "You coming?"
Oh, that kind of 'go back to bed.' Steve looked at the heels and the way they lifted Tony's bare backside and couldn't help responding to the pun. "Yeah, I think I am."