Steve woke up, utterly surrounded by Tony. He was draped over Steve's chest, one hand resting on Steve's cheek and the other gripping his arm. Their legs were tangled together. Tony must have kicked the quilt off them at some point, but Steve didn't mind. He always ran warm, and Tony was acting like his blanket at the moment. Tony's hair tickled Steve's jaw, and Steve smiled, moved just a bit and kissed Tony's brow. Tony didn't wake up, but he nuzzled closer to him. Steve kissed him again, licked at his forehead, and Tony stirred.
It took Steve a while to understand why Tony always slept like that, trapping Steve, making it virtually impossible for him to get up without waking Tony. Steve wished Tony didn't feel like he had to keep Steve down to stop him from leaving, didn't expect him to try and sneak out in the night. He knew Tony didn't really believe that consciously, but the expectation to be left, thrown away, was there. Steve just hoped he'd never done and never would do anything to make Tony believe he was right to think so.
At first it bothered him, waking Tony when he was getting up, because Tony slept little enough, but he quickly learnt that Tony liked it, Steve kissing him awake before going for his run, telling him to go back to sleep. And Tony did, every time, easily.
“Hey, sleepy head, morning,” Steve said softly. Tony opened his eyes, blinked a few times, and looked at Steve, not yet conscious. Steve grinned at him. “Let me go.”
“You're crazy,” Tony muttered, and rolled off Steve, threw his arm over his eyes.
Steve kissed him gently. “Be back soon.”
Tony would probably pull him back to bed again when he returned, for a round of morning sex or cuddles, and Steve waited for it. He treasured the moments when Tony was still sleepy, open like he rarely let himself be when he was fully conscious.
Steve pulled the quilt over him, and quietly set about his morning routine.
Just once, Steve would like to get through his morning run without encountering villains wrecking havoc on his city. Or, well, trying to wreck; Chemistro wasn't doing a great job –
Steve jumped, pushed a civilian out of the way as Chemistro aimed his gun at him. Steve rolled down and as he was standing up he pressed the button on his Avengers card. He figured convincing Chemistro to just go back to his cell wouldn't work. Looking around, Steve noticed that other people were wisely turning back instead of coming into the street, leaving just the man Chemistro had attacked moments earlier. He was sitting, his hand on his ankle, and Steve swore. He could deal with Chemistro on his own without his shield, if he didn't have to worry about casualties, but protecting an immobilised person –
Steve jumped out of the way of another beam and winced as the lamppost behind him melted and fell down, crushing the pavement.
“I am not going back to Raft!” Chemistro shouted. Steve thought his mind was off the other man. Good.
“Never said you were,” Steve answered. “But now that you mention it . . .”
Another shot went over Steve's head, and he rolled forward, aiming to push Chemistro off balance and disarm him. Chemistro fired at the ground just in front of him to keep Steve away and backed off several metres.
Steve moved to the side, judged the distance, and a second before he thought he could just jump, he heard the well-known and very pleasant whine of the repulsors. He didn't take his eyes off Chemistro, but in a moment Iron Man was in Steve's field of view, the shield in his hand.
“Getting into trouble already, Steve,” Iron Man said, and threw the shield to Steve.
“Iron Man,” Chemistro spat, and attacked him. He evaded easily, charged the repulsors and shot back, and Steve got ready to throw his shield.
Chemistro managed to dodge the shot, and then the shield hit him, and threw him several metres back.
It bounced off, and Steve jumped and caught it.
Chemistro looked around, cackled and fired his gun to the right, Steve catching his intent a moment too late. Iron Man was already flying in the hurt civilian's direction, so Steve threw his shield again, aiming to knock Chemistro out this time.
Chemistro didn't have a chance to dodge it and he fell down, unconscious. Steve ran to him, secured the gun and then turned to Iron Man. He was pulling his left gauntlet off.
“You all right?”
“He's got a sprained ankle,” Iron Man said, gesticulating at the man. “I called the EMTs.”
“Fine. The gauntlet got hit, Mister Stark will need to repair it.”
Steve fought the urge to grin at the words. He came closer to them. “What did Chemistro want with you?”
The man looked up at him. He was pale, probably stressed, and definitely in pain. “Don't know, but I run a chemistry lab here,” he said.
“That's when we long for villains like Doom, who can pay for their own ingredients,” Iron Man said, and the man laughed.
They waited with him till the EMTs and SHIELD arrived, and then Iron Man flew Steve to the Tower.
In the workshop, Tony pulled off his helmet. “You know, you promised to come back to me, not the other way round,” he pouted.
“Sorry,” Steve offered, and kissed him, his other hand going to grasp Tony's bare left hand, finally giving in to the urge to feel for himself he was unharmed. For Tony to pull the gauntlet off, he really must have been worried.
Tony laughed against his lips. “Told you I'm all right,” he whispered, and kissed Steve again. Still in the armour, he was slightly taller, and Steve arched up. Tony's hair, messed from sleep and the helmet, was just long enough for him to tangle his fingers in. Steve leant forward, letting Tony take his weight, and enjoyed the certainly not new, but not really usual feeling.
“You owe me five hours of sleep,” Tony said.
“Sleep? Or just bed?”
“I can be persuaded.”
Steve felt along the armour for the release clasps and pulled at them.
“That's just cheating,” Tony said, amused, and didn't move an inch to help Steve get him out of the armour.
Sometimes Steve thought Tony enjoyed seeing Steve handling it.
Well, Steve enjoyed stripping him at all times, and he knew the armour. Tony had taken his time teaching Steve how to handle it. Steve would like to think it was so that he could make sure Tony was all right if he passed out inside it, knew it was because Tony was afraid of losing control over it and having to be stopped, and was amused, thinking how years ago he had taken it off him like that for the first time, and Tony had looked at him, perplexed, before he'd said, softly, “well, I haven't imagined you'd use it like that.”
Steve had been and still was stupidly in love with him.
He took his time, kissing each exposed piece of skin, and he wasn't surprised at all at how it looked like Tony hadn't worn anything under his armour.
Maybe he had the red thong on.
Steve wasn't going to rush it to check. He could be patient. Tony, however, looked like he was close to breaking his decision about not helping Steve. He shivered as Steve kissed his collarbone, licked the skin up from there and bit at Tony's neck.
“Steve,” he said, and he sounded wrecked already. Steve grinned against his skin, and his fingers found the clasps on the right arm plate.
He pulled it off gently and put it on the workbench next to them, along with the chest plate he'd taken off Tony already.
Tony grasped at his t-shirt, pulled him closer, and Steve laughed quietly. “Impatient,” he said.
“Stop – teasing,” Tony said, breathlessly.
Steve kissed him in the nose. “No.”
Tony grabbed at him, and Steve stepped away. Tony still had on his left arm plate and right gauntlet, but apart from that, he was naked from the waist up. Steve thought he would like to draw him like that some other time, but a part of him doubted he'd ever be able to stop himself from touching Tony when he looked like that: his eyelids heavy over his eyes, his pupils blown, blue irises just a narrow line around them.
It took all of Steve's not inconsiderable willpower not to rattle off the code to remove the armour in a few seconds.
Tony chased him, surprisingly elegant even in only half of his armour. He put his gauntleted hand around Steve, worked it under his t-shirt and Steve shivered at the touch of cold metal. He leant forward, kissed Tony breathless, until his grip turned just shy of painful and with a rush of blood Steve realised the repulsor was pressed against his flesh, that if Tony were a different man, he could kill him like that. But Steve knew Tony would never hurt him, so the touch of the lethal weapon was just exciting. And Tony knew it, the bastard, judging by the way he was smiling against Steve's mouth.
Steve felt blindly for the release catches on his left arm plate, pressed at them and let it fall to the ground with a loud thud.
“Who's impatient now,” Tony said.
He was infuriating sometimes, and brilliant, and Steve loved him.
Tony pulled his t-shirt up, so Steve took half a step back, took it all the way off, pressed flush against Tony, enjoyed his warmth.
He felt Tony trying to take off his gauntlet behind Steve's back, so he reached back and stilled his hand. “Leave it on,” he said, and watched as Tony's eyes got impossibly darker.
Steve had on just a pair of loose training pants and even that felt restraining, now, and he thought briefly how Tony must feel in the armour – but he wasn't rushing him, so Steve kissed him again, slow and deep, and then bowed down, licked at Tony's neck, and lower, his collarbone. He bit on it, gently. Tony shook a bit. He closed his armoured hand over Steve's shoulder as if to steady himself, and Steve took in a sharp breath.
He knelt and kissed Tony's stomach, enjoyed the way Tony's muscles trembled under his skin. Steve put his hands over where Tony's hipbones were still hidden by his armour, pressed at the catches there. Tony was very still as Steve ran his hands down to the other pair of catches, near his knees, and then Steve peeled the armour away, carefully, leaving Tony naked but for his jetboots. He should look hilarious, and Steve couldn't think straight.
“I thought you had an undersuit somewhere,” he managed to say.
“You don't seem to be complaining,” Tony said and Steve could hear the smile in his voice.
He put his hands on Tony's waist and urged him to step off his boots, and then Tony was suddenly a few inches shorter, and Steve, still on his knees, was just in the right place. He ran his hand over Tony a few times and then swallowed him whole, and Tony's hand on his arm tightened until it hurt. Steve was sure he'd have bruises, and thought it was perfect.
He focused on Tony. He knew him so well, he knew exactly how he'd react to every touch and every breath. It was never any less amazing how responsive Tony was, how he vibrated with energy when he tried to stay still, how he tried and failed to contain all the little sounds he made.
Tony's bare hand was in Steve's hair, and it was obvious he was consciously stopping himself from pulling at it. His breath was too quick, his pulse wild, he was moaning Steve's name mixed with curses in several languages.
Steve loved to make him come apart and lose his composure like that.
“Steve,” he said. “Steve. Let me –”
Steve flicked his tongue and the rest of the sentence changed into a moan, but Tony still tried to push him away, so he went, let Tony pull him up.
Tony kissed him, and Steve put his hand over Tony's heart, felt it beating quickly because of him, and he couldn't describe how it made him feel. Tony urged him out of his pants, and Steve breathed with relief at the air touching him, and then Tony pushed him back, and the back of Steve's knees hit the sofa Tony had in his workshop. He let himself fall on it. Tony straddled his knees, kissed him again and again, and then he put his hand, his armoured hand, over both of them, and Steve lost track of anything else.
He was saying something, but he wasn't sure what, maybe just Tony, and Tony kissed him and swallowed all the sounds. His rhythm was faltering, but Steve didn't care one bit. The gauntlet was still cooler than skin temperature, and it was hard metal, and it was as integral to Tony as his blue eyes were.
Steve dug his hands into Tony's back, and Tony briefly closed his fingers over them tighter, and it was enough.
When he came to, Tony was lying on top of him, utterly spent, but licking at Steve's neck lazily.
“Mmmm,” Steve said, eloquently.
“I might forgive you pulling me out of bed that early,” Tony said, and Steve laughed, and turned to kiss his forehead.
“Mind me watching,” Steve said, not really a question. Tony got absolutely immersed in his work more often than not, but he'd told Steve once he liked having him there in his workshop, even when it looked like he wasn't paying any attention to anything that wasn't his current project.
Tony turned to him and smiled. He looked happy and relaxed, standing in the workshop in black training pants and what Steve was pretty sure had once been his t-shirt, his hair utterly messed up and a pair of protective goggles hanging on his neck. “Never,” he said, honestly. “But I'll be boring company.”
“Never,” Steve told him, and settled on a sofa with his sketchbook and a pencil.
He drew from memory, knowing how Tony would look in a few hours: the goggles pulled off his eyes over his forehead, half turned to Steve, the fixed gauntlet on his arm, his fingers stretched and the repulsor shining bright.
His clothes would be even more rumpled, with black stains or maybe singes, and he'd have something smeared on his cheek as well, because Tony could rarely stop himself from gesticulating, and he tended to support his head on his hand while thinking.
Steve realised he was smiling softly, and didn't stop. He loved this man. He loved him so much it seemed scary at times.
Many things had gone wrong in his life, but looking at Tony now, Steve knew he wouldn't change a thing. Not if he ended here, watching the man he loved, knowing he was loved back.
He lightly sketched in Tony's expression like it would be when he fixed the gauntlet: a mix of a relief at having his armour fully operational again and elation at finishing his work, probably making it even better in the process, and somewhere there something soft at having Steve watch him.
Steve never wanted to spend a day without Tony.
His sketch mostly done, he watched Tony work, the play of muscles in his arms as he stretched or lifted another tool, the focused look in his eyes, the way he moved, smoothly, as if practising dance movements.
“A-ha,” Tony said, pulled the goggles off as Steve knew he would, and put the gauntlet on. The repulsor charged with a soft whine. Tony turned to look at Steve, and in this moment Steve knew he would never catch his expression on paper. Tony was vibrant, full of life; his eyes happy and his mouth curved in a small smile. He was proud of his work, and he loved the armour, loved how it helped him save the world. It was a minor repair, but it meant a lot all the same, and Tony was laughing with it.
Steve wanted to spend the rest of his life with him.
“Marry me,” Steve said.
Tony let his arm fell down to his side, and Steve realised what exactly he had just done.
He couldn't say he was surprised at himself, even if he didn't plan it.
But Tony was suddenly very tense. “I know, I rather appreciate my own genius too,” he said, and Steve frowned.
He stood up. “I mean it,” he said.
Tony bit at his lip. “Steve.”
“No. I mean it, Tony.” He walked to him, stopped within arm's reach. “I love you. Your genius too, but, Tony, I'm serious. I love all of you. Every part. How you're always there for me, and how you don't go to bed for days at end when you're working on a project, and how you give so much of yourself to the world, and –”
“Steve,” Tony said, breathlessly.
Steve searched his face. There was hope there, and disbelief, still.
“You have to forgive me, I don't have a ring,” he said, startling a laugh out of Tony, and then he went down on one knee and took Tony's hand in his, noticed a burn from the soldering iron and kissed it. “I'm serious,” he breathed over Tony's hand. “Marry me.”
Tony didn't pull him up, he went down as if his knees gave up, but Steve caught him and held him in a tight embrace, and Tony kissed him, desperately, searchingly.
“Tony,” Steve said, suddenly unsure, because they'd never talked about it, not really, and – it didn't matter what Tony would say, because nothing would change how Steve felt about him.
Tony kissed him again and again, and finally leant his forehead against Steve's. He tried to say something and couldn't, and with a pang Steve realised Tony's cheeks were wet with tears. He touched his thumb under Tony's eye and wiped one tear away, kissed his other eyelid.
“Tony,” he said, again, helplessly.
“Yes,” Tony said, his voice trembling even over the one syllable. “God, Steve, yes.”
He clung to Steve as if his life depended on it, one of his hands still in the gauntlet, and Steve clung right back, and he didn't quite believe what happened.