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Tony eyed his opponent warily as he carefully circled to the left. His back still ached from the hard throw he'd suffered earlier, and he was well aware that he'd be feeling every bump and bruise from this encounter in the morning. His opponent was quick and strong, not to mention ruthless at pressing his advantage and Tony knew, after several years, that he was completely untrustworthy when it came to situations like this.

Regardless of all of that, Tony was grinning exuberantly. He hadn't enjoyed himself this much in far too long.

He blinked away a drop of sweat as it rolled down from his forehead, not taking his eyes off of the other man. His shoulders were beginning to protest at the lengthy fight, the tension that filled him bunching up beneath his shoulder blades as he kept his hands up, not missing the impatient frown on the face of the man across from him, and he lunged.

Twenty seconds later, he was wondering if adding some sort of motivational artwork to the ceiling would make it any more interesting. He'd already memorized how many tiles it was comprised of, although that didn't stop him from automatically beginning to count them all over again as he tried to catch his breath, wincing at the ache in his ribs.

"Too slow, Tony," Steve grinned down at him. The bastard was barely even sweating, Tony noticed absently, trying not to notice Steve's body pressed against his as Steve held him pinned down. Steve shifted his weight, standing up and leaning down slightly to offer a hand to him. There had been a time when Tony would have resented the gesture, but that time was long past. Instead, he rolled his eyes, then reached up and clasped Steve's hand, ignoring the heat from the strong grasp, and let Steve pull him upright again.

"Everybody's too slow compared to you," Tony griped, wiping the sweat from his face. Steve laughed and Tony found himself smiling reflexively at the sound.

"Maybe, but today is all about you," Steve replied, his blue eyes twinkling. Tony put on his best long-suffering expression, not missing the way that Steve's lips twitched, and looked heavenward, raising his arms toward the ceiling in a melodramatic pose.

"Gold help me," he drawled, giving Steve a sidelong glance. The man was watching him with an exasperated expression that did nothing to hide the amused affection beneath. The sight warmed Tony a little and he added in a stage whisper, "What did I ever do to deserve this?"

"You asked me to spar with you," came the prompt reply, and Tony sighed.

"I did, didn't I? I must've been insane," he said, not quite able to hide the curl of his lips. "Does temporary insanity excuse me from sparring practice with Captain America?"

A snort was his only answer, and Steve moved away from him to resume his ready position, waiting expectantly. Tony shook his head, but raised his hands again. This time, he thought, he'd just go for it. None of his planning or tactics ever seemed to work with Steve, so what the hell?

With that in mind, he swung at Steve, using his expected dodge to get closer in before attempting a leg sweep. Steve sidestepped easily and Tony narrowed his eyes. At the very least, the man could occasionally look like he hadn't anticipated every move Tony made before Tony had even thought about them!

Moving in again, Steve caught him by surprise with a quick twist and a sidestep that left him looking at empty space. Whirling around, Tony led with a kick toward where he knew Steve would be. He grinned again as it connected with a solid thud, but Steve dropped down, rolled, and grabbed -- and Tony found himself immobilized. With one hand wrapped around his fingers, forcing them back toward his wrist, and the other at his throat, he knew that he could drop out of the hold, but only at the cost of more pain than a simple sparring session was worth.

Swallowing, very much aware of Steve's fingers pressing against the too-fast pulse in his throat, he raised his eyes to meet Steve's. The smartass comment on his lips faded at the blazing fury he saw there, and he blinked, wondering wildly what the hell he could have done to piss Steve off that badly while they were sparring. He wasn't that bad any more -- Steve had spent the last few years making sure of that, after all.

An uncomfortable silence grew between them as Tony stared mutely at his friend, at a complete loss for words. He was increasingly aware of the closeness of Steve's body, the heat radiating between them, their thin workout clothes doing nothing to muffle the effect, and of the indefinable smell of leather and sweat that always said "Steve" in his mind. Trying to rein in his wandering thoughts, Tony swallowed again as he tried to think of something, anything, to say. Steve's sudden sigh surprised him and Steve shook his head slowly at Tony's expression.

"Tony..." Steve paused, and Tony could almost hear him thinking, considering different statements and discarding them. He realised he was holding his breath and forced himself to relax. Finally, Steve pulled his hand away from Tony's throat, running it through his disheveled hair with an almost frustrated gesture. Perversely, Tony found himself wanting those fingers around his throat again.

"Look, I don't know..." Steve trailed off, and then he met Tony's wide eyes with a serious gaze. "Is there something you need to tell me?"

Tony blinked. Of all the strange... Steve couldn't possibly mean what he thought, could he? No, there was no way he could know. Tony had done everything humanly possible to hide his reactions to Steve...

"Tony." The serious tone, edged with an unreadable emotion, only increased the feeling of dread that was clawing at Tony's gut. Looking at Steve, he could still see that fire in his eyes, although it was veiled now. His confusion must have shown on his face, because Steve stepped back slightly and gestured at Tony's hand. Which, Tony now realised, was still grasped firmly in Steve's. Which sent a little rush of heat through him, until he realised that their clasped hands weren't what Steve had been indicating. Tony frowned, studying his raised hand, captured in midair by Steve's firm grasp, still in the same position it had been in when... oh.

Oh, shit. But... that couldn't be what... Jerking his head up to meet Steve's steady gaze again, he swallowed hard against his now dry throat at the expression he saw there.

Apparently either his silence or his face told Steve what he'd wanted to know, because he released his hold on Tony's hand and stepped away. Part of Tony mourned the loss of contact, while the rest of him frantically tried to think of something, anything, to say to get him out of this one. He glared at his hand, still apparently frozen in midair, wondering almost abstractly why it didn't seem to want to move from its damning position.

"That's the third time today," Steve said quietly. All traces of his earlier amusement were gone. Tony sighed, closing his eyes, and finally, finally managed to bring his hand down from the betraying position: Arm straight out, hand up, palm outward, directly facing toward Steve... exactly as it would be to fire a repulsor blast.

"Steve, I..." He stopped. He wasn't sure what to say, he realised. All of his glibness, his normal ease with manipulating words... all of it was gone. His mind was a complete blank, and he stared at his long-time friend, knowing that guilt was written clearly across his face.

"How about you try something new?" Steve's voice was clipped, and the anger that had previously only been visible in his eyes now edged every word. "How about you tell me the truth."

Tony's mouth opened as he stared at Steve, strangely hurt by the sharp words.

"I have been--" he started, and Steve's nostrils flared, and he fell silent.

"You have been lying to me from the beginning," Steve said levelly. Tony's eyes narrowed again, anger finally washing over, replacing the odd numbness. It was almost enough to hide the pain.

"You didn't give me any choice!" The words were out before he knew it, hanging in the air between them and inwardly, he winced. It was too late to stop now, though. "Dammit, Steve, I'm only human. You-- you're--" Words failed him again as he struggled to find a way to say what he needed to say without saying too much. Steve crossed his arms, his eyes narrow, but he seemed to be waiting --for him, Tony knew. Even now, Steve was giving him a chance to explain. That knowledge seemed to set the words free.

"I'm not like you, Steve," he bit, running a hand through his already-tousled hair. "I'm not perfect. I'm just... I'm an arrogant, alcoholic son of a bitch who's too full of himself to take life seriously, who almost got killed by the same damned weapons that I created. I'm anything but perfect -- hell, I'm everything but perfect," he said bitterly, knowing that he was telling Steve more than he'd meant to, that Steve was reading everything into his words that he'd never be willing to tell anyone. Steve didn't even twitch.

Frustrated, knowing he wasn't making a lot of sense, Tony plowed on anyway. "Meeting you was... God, Steve, it was like every childhood fantasy come true all at once. I mean, I grew up on stories of you, you know? And then, getting to work with you -- there was no way I could live up to what you thought I was."

"You don't know what I thought." Steve's words were quiet, but Tony paused.

"No, I don't -- but I know what I saw," he agreed despondently. He turned away, pacing toward the far wall, and only turned to look at Steve again once he felt far enough away.

"And I know what you said," he added. When Steve just blinked at him, he snapped, "Being told how much I was appreciated for my money certainly told me what you thought of me!" Steve opened his mouth, but Tony cut across whatever he was going to say, continuing, his words sharp, "After that..." His shoulders sagged, knowing that this conversation was going to finally kill his hopes, his fantasies, more certainly than anything else he'd ever feared. He raked his fingers through his hair almost savagely, turning to stare at the wall for several minutes.

Finally, he said soft, "After I got to know you, really know you, Steve Rogers, not just Captain America... How could I ever stand to disappoint you by telling you the truth? You always saw me as a hero, as a good man, even when you were telling me off for letting my job with Stark interfere with my duties as an Avenger. How could I ever tell you that it was me all along?" Dimly, he was aware that Steve had approached and was standing just behind him, but he didn't turn around.

"I'm Iron Man." The words were flat, almost despairing. "Now you know. I can't tell you how much I hated lying to you, but now--"

"Tony." Steve's breath puffed against the side of his face and Tony shivered before he could stop himself. A second later, he stiffened in surprise as hands fell on his shoulders, gently turning him around. "Shut up."

And then Tony knew that he was going insane, because there was no way, absolutely no way in hell that Steve Rogers was kissing him.

One hand threaded through his hair, and his hands slipped up to wrap around Steve's waist and Tony was absolutely lost, the sensation of Steve's lips on his more than enough to overwhelm him. His own lips parted with a whimper that he would absolutely deny making until his dying day and he could feel Steve's smile against his mouth. Then Steve's tongue flicked against his, learning his mouth, claiming it, and there was no mistaking the possessive growl emanating from Steve's throat.

The noise did something to Tony, flipped some sort of switch inside him, and he surged forward, his hand tangling roughly in Steve's hair as he pursued Steve's lips when they would have pulled away from his, and then he was kissing Steve with everything he had, letting his lips say all the things he hadn't been able to, and only when spots swam in front of his eyes did he pull away, chest heaving for breath.

"Tony..." There was a strange tone in Steve's voice, but Tony ignored it, staring into blue eyes turned nearly black, aware that they were plastered against each other from chest to knees, and some part in the back of his mind was practically giddy at feeling an unmistakable hardness pressing against his abdomen. He squirmed experimentally and watched heatedly as Steve's eyes closed, a quiet noise slipping out of him as his hands tightened on Tony's body. All of his earlier despair was gone, wiped away by the unexpected knowledge that Steve wanted him.

That thought nearly took his breath away all over again. His mind was already moving on, though, and even as Steve opened his eyes, his tightening grasp on Tony's waist indicating the direction of his own thoughts, Tony moved. Pulling back as far as he could without actually moving out of Steve's grasp, he glared up at the other man, watching as the lust written clearly on Steve's face faded into confusion. Not that Tony was surprised by that -- he was giving off incredibly mixed signals. At least his were on purpose, unlike the twisted-up reactions that Steve was giving him in return.

Pursing his lips, he waited until Steve grew uncomfortable enough with his silence to try to say something. Then he followed his instincts.

"How long?" he demanded.

Steve's eyes widened almost comically and he stuttered, "I -- I've always -- wait, what?" Tony's lips twitched, although he carefully filed away that "I've always" for future reference. Rather than reply, not quite trusting his voice, he watched Steve with what he hoped was a semblance of calm, waiting for the nonplused man to form a coherent sentence. Raising an eyebrow at the confusion on Steve's face, he internally revised that to 'or a coherent thought.'

After another moment of silence, not nearly as uncomfortable as the last, Steve seemed to figure out what Tony meant. His face smoothed and he cocked his head at Tony, his expression caught between amusement and resignation.

"I've been pretty sure that you were Iron Man since the incident with the Carnelian ambassador," he admitted softly. Tony pushed away the almost-reflexive twinge of guilt at the memory, reminding himself firmly that it hadn't been him, wasn't his fault, and Steve must have been following every thought on his face as he added almost hastily, "Because of the hand thing."

"The hand thing?" Tony repeated, taken off guard and not quite sure what Steve was talking about.

"What you did earlier. When I stopped you." Steve's voice was oddly gentle and Tony was aware of the concern now evident in the unwavering gaze.

"Oh," was all he could think of to say.

"It took me a while to figure out why it looked so familiar," Steve said, smiling a little. "But it's very distinctive, and well... I'd already suspected it was you." Tony's eyebrows shot upward again as he recovered himself and Steve flushed slightly. "I, uh... I've spent a lot of time... watching you," Steve said awkwardly. "As Iron Man, I mean. What with working together and all, of course. And, well, you're really one of a kind, Tony. I always wondered how Iron Man could know so much about how your inventions worked, and then I realised... you have this way of talking, when you're working on something, and your hands..." Steve paused, and Tony kept staring at him. He'd never really tried that hard to give Iron Man a different personality, but no one else had ever caught on to that.

"What about my hands?" His voice was low, almost husky, and he saw the quickly-controlled reaction that shivered through Steve's body at his words. Good to know that it wasn't just him being affected, he thought, and pondered for a moment possibilities involving Steve and phones and video cameras. Steve's cheeks darkened.

"You have very expressive hands," he said, almost primly, and Tony couldn't help the smile. "And you talk with them, you know. Even when you're in the armour. It was never enough to be sure, but... I knew it had to be you. And the more little things I noticed, the more it got to me, that Iron Man was you and he was my best friend, and you wouldn't ever say anything, or do anything, and I..." He paused, and Tony could see him swallow before continuing, "I wanted you to do something."

"Something?" Tony asked, his own voice quiet now.

"I... dammit, Tony. I wanted you to be honest with me. You're my best friend, and I..." Steve stopped again and Tony watched him try to find the right words, wondering how he'd missed so much. He'd always thought of himself as intelligent and insightful but obviously, he'd been missing something important. "I didn't want to have to choose between Iron Man and Tony Stark."

Tony didn't know what his face looked like at that moment, but he knew that for all of his predictions, all of his planning, he never could have expected this. His earlier anger had long since faded and so had Steve's, judging from his eyes. All Tony was aware of was a fragile sort of feeling, something new and strange between them, and one thing he'd absolutely never been afraid of was venturing into the unknown. He shifted slightly, not quite sure of what he was planning to do, but whatever it was, he never did it. Instead, moving slowly, almost as though he were afraid of spooking Tony, Steve raised a hand to cup his cheek. Tony was aware of the slight tremor in the fingers touching him and he wondered how he could have been so blind as to not see any of this.

The slightest pressure from those fingers made him twist his head, and then Steve kissed him again. This time there was no anger, no force. This kiss was soft, almost hesitant, and Tony let out a breath he hadn't known he was holding and kissed Steve back. He wasn't sure exactly when they'd moved together, but they were pressed together again, almost wrapped around each other, and the almost chaste kiss was stealing his breath. It was soft and slow and gentle and even better than the first one. When Steve pulled away to look at him questioningly, he whined quietly, wanting nothing more than Steve's lips on his again and he knew that none of his other addictions would ever come close to this one. He could tell already that Steve had wormed his way into him, made himself necessary for Tony to function, and that knowledge wasn't surprising. It was just... there. A simple fact.

"Tony -- talk to me. Please," Steve said, and Tony realised that he'd been staring silently at Steve for long, silent moments, caught up in his quietly profound realisation. He laughed.

"After that, you want me to talk?" he asked, smiling, not quite ready to face his new knowledge. He would. Just... not quite yet. Steve smiled back at him, shrugging slightly.

"I just... I always worry a little if you're quiet," Steve replied. Tony blinked at him and decided that he really didn't want to pursue that comment right now, not with the telltale twinkle in Steve's eyes. Instead, he leaned forward, wrapping an arm around his waist and looked at him, very much aware that he could feel Steve's arousal pressing against him again and knowing that Steve could feel his.

"Is this where you tell me that we need to take it slow?" Tony asked, trying to sound lighthearted and failing miserably. He suspected that he actually sounded half-pleading and more than half-horny. Or, he wondered suddenly, would this turn into the 'let's just be friends' speech, regardless of their obvious attraction? Physical reactions didn't necessarily mean anything, after all, and he was more aware of that fact than most people. A wave of such deep dread swept over him at the thought that he had to swallow back an abrupt burst of nausea.

The quiet laugh took him by surprise, and Steve shook his head. "I think dancing around each other for the last few years was slow enough, don't you?"

"Oh," Tony said dumbly. "Good." He tried to work his way through the suddenly demanding tangle of thoughts and emotions welling up inside him, and decided that they could all wait. Except for the obvious, of course. He grinned at Steve, rolling his hips against Steve's in a deliberate motion, and laughed at the startled, needy noise that escaped him. "Because I don't do slow," he said, smirking.

Steve growled something that might have been his name, and then Tony was gasping for breath as he was unceremoniously slammed up against the wall and his eyes crossed as Steve laid claim to his mouth with ruthless efficiency. His hands clawed at Steve's back and he heard the sound of tearing cloth but he couldn't tear himself away from the heady feeling of Steve's lips on his, demanding a response. Instead, drowning in Steve's scent and learning his taste, Tony shifted, one hand sliding down to grab Steve's ass, pulling their hips together. Sparks shot up his spine at the sensation of Steve's cock dragging against his, their workout clothes barely diminishing the feeling.

"God," Steve gasped against his mouth, and Tony whined at the loss of Steve's lips. "Tony--"

"Too much talking," Tony said shortly, pulling frantically at Steve's shirt, frustrated when he realised they were too tangled together to let him pull it off. Steve grabbed his wrists and Tony struggled briefly, instinctively trying to break free, until Steve laughed at him and pulled his own shirt off one-handed before doing the same to him. Tony had a glimpse of a ragged hole in thin fabric, but then his hands were free and he was touching Steve's bare chest. He'd had dreams about that chest. No one else he'd known had ever been so prone to walking around half-naked as Steve Rogers, and every glimpse Tony had ever caught of flat pink nipples, muscled abdomen, strong shoulders, all of them had been stored away for later recall. And now... now he got to touch.

He spent half a second staring at bare skin, feeling Steve's amusement even through his heated gaze, and then mentally shrugged. With one quick movement, his lips were fastened on a flat nipple, tongue flicking against the sensitive flesh and he shuddered at Steve's deep moan, all too aware of his own aching cock. His hands moved across the expanse of skin, touching, caressing, learning the textures of Steve's body, and Steve shifted beneath his roaming fingers. As Tony dropped to his knees, nuzzling the softer flesh of Steve's abdomen, inhaling the warm musk, Steve's hands caught on his shoulders, one slipping around to his chin to tug Tony's face upwards. He resisted briefly, his hands tugging on the waistband of Steve's workout shorts, but gave in at Steve's wordless murmur.

Looking up, he found himself caught on a glittering blue gaze, Steve's eyes nearly black, only the barest ring of blue visible around the edges, and Tony moaned softly at the sight. His dick twitched and he shuddered and whatever Steve was going to say was lost as Tony's fingers scrabbled and finally managed to pull down Steve's shorts and briefs. His mouth watered as he stared at Steve's cock, watching a drop of precum rise and slowly roll down the swollen head. His tongue darted out, moistening suddenly dry lips, and Steve's hand clenched almost painfully in his hair. Tony didn't need any more encouragement. Splaying one hand on Steve's hip for balance, he leaned forward and swiped his tongue across hot flesh, a slightly bitter salty taste filling his mouth and Steve groaned deep in his throat.

"Tony..." It was almost a growl, and Tony made some needy noise in the back of his throat at the sheer sound of Steve's voice thick with lust. He knew this wasn't going to last long, and he didn't care. Licking his lips again, Tony wrapped his fingers around the base of Steve's cock and slid his lips over it, taking Steve as far down his throat as he could. Steve's hips bucked and Tony tightened his hold on Steve's hip, concentrating on the thick erection as he swallowed, then began to bob his head. He was too far gone for patience, and if the broken noises coming from Steve's throat were any indication, Steve was in no shape to appreciate finesse. Instead, Tony hollowed his cheeks, his hand sliding downward to cup Steve's balls, his thumb brushing against the sensitive skin behind them, and put his skills to good use. Steve stiffened, hands tightening, and Tony hummed against the hard flesh in his mouth, pressing firmly with his thumb. He felt Steve's cock swell even as Steve gasped before growling deeply, his fingers almost painful on Tony's shoulders, and then Tony was swallowing as Steve came, whimpering as he tried to ignore his own nearly overwhelming need.

A noise of protest slipped out of him when Steve moved back out of Tony's reach, but before Tony could react, he was being pulled upward, pressed back against the wall, and then Steve was kissing him again, soft and sweet and slow... too slow. Tony groaned into his mouth as he arched his back, rubbing desperately against Steve, close to losing it. He clutched at Steve, whining, and reached for the waistband of his shorts only to have his hand caught in a firm grasp and raised above his head, held tight against the wall. Blinking hard, Tony focused on Steve's face, the unexpectedly wicked smirk playing on his lips, and opened his mouth to... ask what Steve was doing? Beg for his touch? All of the above?

Instead, Steve's other hand covered his mouth, preventing him from speaking but not able to silence the needy, desperate noises that kept spilling from his throat. Steve pressed a kiss to his temple, then released his hold on Tony's mouth and reached down to pull Tony's other hand up, trapping them both against the wall above his head. Tony whimpered, tossing his head, and Steve leaned in, his lips brushing against Tony's ear.

"Don't move," he said hoarsely. Tony gave him a wild-eyed stare, then moaned loudly as Steve's free hand tugged his remaining clothing down before wrapping around his cock. His fists clenched, but Steve still held his wrists and he couldn't move and then Steve's hand started moving and oh, fuck, that felt fantastic and all he could do was throw his head back, moaning helplessly as he writhed, hips moving frantically under Steve's sure touch. Steve leaned in, his breath hot against Tony's neck, and he whispered, "Do you have any idea what you look like right now?" Tony's eyes flew open -- when had he closed them? -- and he looked wildly at Steve. "All flushed and hot and so close..." Steve drew in a ragged breath and was he blushing?

"Dammit, Steve... please." The words were broken, breathless, and he would have hated hearing that tone of voice coming from himself if he hadn't been so far gone with need. Steve pulled back slightly, his gaze sweeping across Tony's body as if planning his attack, then tilted his head and bit him. Hard.

Keening, Tony's head banged back against the wall hard enough to hurt and he came, spending himself in long pulses across Steve's hands. He would have fallen without Steve's hands supporting him, and when he finally came back to himself, Steve was watching him with an undefinable expression on his face. Tony just looked back at him for a long moment, savouring the feel of Steve's body against his, trying to ignore the part of him that was desperately afraid that this was going to be a one-time thing. If it was, he wasn't entirely sure how he would survive without this in the future. One taste wouldn't be enough. A lifetime of Steve wouldn't be enough.

Steve released Tony's hands, a gentle touch to each wrist as if to reassure himself that Tony hadn't been hurt, and slid his fingers along Tony's jaw until his hand was cupping the back of his head. Tony sighed, eyes fluttering shut at the touch, and Steve pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth.

"Mmm," was the only response Tony could manage, opening his eyes and looking up at Steve through his lashes, his mouth curving. Steve laughed softly and wrapped his other arm around Tony's waist, pulling him away from the wall into a firm embrace. Tony allowed his hands to wander across the broad back, tracing vertebrae and shoulder blades, and leaned his head against Steve's shoulder, and refused to let himself think. Thinking too much got him into trouble, especially at times like this. He just wanted to stand here, wrapped in Steve's arms, and enjoy the moment.

"I've dreamt about this," Steve confessed in a whisper after some time spent in silence. Tony's eyes shot open and this time he was positive that Steve was blushing. One eyebrow arched and Steve shrugged a little. "About you. And me. Like this. Well," he added quickly, after Tony's other eyebrow joined the first, "Not like this. But... together."

"Yeah?" Tony's voice was hoarse. He cleared his throat, leaning back just enough to watch Steve's face. "Together, as in... ?" His voice trailed off questioningly, and he knew that his attempt at sounding casual had failed miserably. Steve's hand tightened on his waist, almost protectively, and Steve met his eyes with a serious gaze.

"As in lovers. As in long-term," he replied without hesitation. Tony drew in a shaky breath, and Steve continued, his own voice rough now, "As in... forever."

"Forever?" Tony's voice cracked and he cleared his throat again, wondering if he'd lost his mind and just not realised it yet. "You... and me..."

"Tony." His name, said in that tone, was a clear order to stop speaking before he started babbling. He stopped. Steve smiled at him, so sweetly that it almost hurt, and said softly, "I didn't want to have to choose between Tony Stark and Iron Man... because I love both of them."

Tony stared. Steve chuckled.

"It's not often that I see Tony Stark at a complete loss for words," he said teasingly. Tony's eyes narrowed, but Steve's fingers caressed the side of his face and he relaxed again, trying to wrap his mind around something that he'd never even dared fantasize about. Steve pressed another kiss to his temple and Tony wondered if that was his idea of being supportive or if he just knew that the light touches were enough to make Tony do whatever he wanted. "I know you probably don't believe me, Tony, but I love you. I've loved you for nearly the entire time I've known you, and it was killing me to think that I was in love with two different men. By the time I started suspecting that you were Iron Man... Well, at first, I thought I was just seeing what I wanted to see, so that I wouldn't have to choose one of you." There was that little shrug again, and Tony finally found his voice.

"I love you," he said, his voice breaking on the words. Steve stilled against him, watching him intently, and Tony stared right back, willing the truth to be obvious. "I think... I think I loved Captain America before I ever even met you, but once I did... Once I got to know you, Steve..." He faltered and tried to imitate Steve's casual shrug. "It hurt to lie to you. I wanted to tell you, I tried to tell you, so many times..." He trailed off, his throat working as he tried to control himself. One thing Tony Stark did not do was cry. Especially not right now, when everything he'd ever dreamed of was coming true.

"It's okay, Tony." Steve cupped his face with both hands and the light in his eyes warmed something inside Tony that he hadn't even known was cold. "We're here now."

Silently, Tony nodded. He was pretty sure that if he tried to speak again right now, he'd just lose it and that would definitely give Steve completely the wrong impression. Instead, he leaned up -- strange, to be the shorter one -- and pressed a kiss of his own to Steve's mouth before pulling back again.

Then he glanced up at the clock and swore. "Dammit!"

"Tony?" Steve sounded taken aback, and Tony shot him an apologetic look.

"Sorry, not you. It's just... we've been in here for over an hour. The meeting starts in fifteen minutes, and--"

"And if we're late, the others will come hunt us down," Steve finished for him, chuckling. Tony smiled back, and in that moment, all of his doubts and dread and fear simply fell away from him. He and Steve had a long road ahead of them to make this work, but he had no doubt that they would do it. If the rest of the Avengers didn't come down the stairs and find them naked together in the gym, at least.

"Shower?" he suggested, shooting Steve a suggestive look. Steve laughed outright.

"Shower," he agreed easily. "But I think whatever you're planning will have to wait. If you don't want them to interrupt us in here, I'm sure you don't want them to interrupt... anything else." Tony's smile widened as he watched Steve blush again, and he vowed to himself that he was going to cause that to happen as many times as humanly possible, because it looked so damned good on him.

Stepping back, Tony wanted to protest when Steve's hands left him, but the reassuring glance Steve gave him kept him quiet. How did the man seem to know what he was thinking? It was uncanny. His thoughts were derailed as Steve turned and bent over, picking up their almost forgotten clothing, and he was treated to the sight of Steve's ass, muscles flexing with the movement. His tongue flickered out, wetting his lips, and no sooner had Steve straightened than he grabbed Steve's hand impatiently and pulled him toward the showers.

"What--" Steve started to ask, but Tony cut him off.

"The sooner we get showered, the sooner we get to the meeting, and the sooner that's done with, the sooner we can get on to those other things," he said meaningfully, his gaze sweeping over Steve's nude body. Steve's mouth opened, then closed, and then he smiled.

"Sounds good to me."

fin