Tony's fingers danced over blown glass and carved crystal ornaments on their shelves while he waited for the shop owners to finish with another customer. They tinkled and glittered, shining back colors from the strung lights overhead. The little Christmas tree shop smelled like pine and cinnamon, with just a hint of apple in the mix. It was a smell he'd learned to associate with the holidays. Every year, he had come to the same place in Virginia for a tree, just like his parents had. It had become routine more than tradition, done for the sake of parties he didn't want to host and people he didn't really like. But for the first time in years, it would actually mean something to decorate—the Avengers had all made plans to spend the holidays together, so the mansion would be filled with people.
And one of them would be Steve.
In his long and rich history with love, Tony had been head over heels for a lot of different people, but he hadn't expected to fall for Steve nearly as hard as he had. Captain America should have been some jerk that history had been way too kind to. Finding out he was pretty much exactly as advertised had been a shock to Tony's system. After that, it was a short trip past schoolboy crush into total infatuation.
Not that Steve had noticed, but Tony followed the better safe than sorry method when it came to Steve. He didn't want to face the likelihood of Good Friends being quashed down to Just Teammates because he'd pushed. It was enough that Steve would be there for Christmas. Maybe he could convince Spider-Man to start a snowball fight. After Steve got all soggy, Tony could get him to strip off his shirt and dry out in front of one of the fireplaces. And there were always cookies and cocoa to share while watching old holiday movies on the sofa.
Smiling to himself, Tony fingered one of the ornaments, a piece of colored glass shaped like mistletoe. When he held it up, a trick of the light made it seem like it was glowing. The little silver bells that hung from it tinkled with the movement, bobbing on the end of their ribbon.
"Nice, isn't it?" someone said behind his shoulder. "Some of my best work."
Tony turned and smiled at the old man. He had that odd sort of balding pattern that on some men made it look like they had horns. "I didn't know that the ornaments were made in-house. They weren't last year."
"Times are tough; everyone's trying a new angle these days." The old man offered his hand, which Tony shook out of habit. "The name's Erik Laufeyson. You're Tony Stark, aren't you? We see you on the news. My wife's got every issue of Sun Times that you've been in."
"Guilty as charged," Tony admitted with a laugh. "I try to stay out of the news these days. Settling down, getting serious with my company. Scandals are bad for business."
"They sure are." Erik nodded at the ornament Tony was still holding. "You like that little piece of work?"
"It's pretty." Tony glanced down at the piece. The green of the leaves was marbled so that it almost looked real, and the white berries could have been fresh from the snow. "I've never seen glass glitter like that."
"It's an old family secret, blowing glass like that." Erik waved him toward one of the registers. "If you're interested in it, I'll make you a deal."
"Oh?" Tony was instantly on guard for the sales pitch. "I really only came for a tree. I've got everything else I need." One of the advantages of coming from money was that things stacked up; the attic at the mansion was filled with ornaments from Tony's childhood.
"It never hurts to look," Erik replied, and turned, leaving Tony no choice but to follow if he wanted to finish buying his tree. Mr. Wintler, the man he usually dealt with, was three people deep in customers, and wasn't going to have time for him any time soon. At the register, Erik bent down and picked up what looked like a file box of normal mistletoe. On a second look, though, Tony noticed it had flowers and berries.
"What's this?" Curious in spite of himself, he picked up one of the little plastic-wrapped bundles for comparison. Now that he was looking closer, he saw the tiny little flowers on the ornament. Red ribbon had been wrapped around the fresh plant, with little silver bells dangling from it. Fine golden pollen dusted the inside of the plastic. Next to the real thing, the glass looked even more lifelike.
"This is a hybrid we just came out with." Erik tapped the box, making the little bells attached to the mistletoe ring. "My cousin just came out with it. Stays fresh three times as long, which means you can put it up early and take it down late, no problem."
Tony hummed and compared them again. Steve's face flashed through his thoughts, bright red like it always got when he was embarrassed. Mistletoe had rules. He'd have to be able to get at least one small kiss from Steve. Sure, maybe he'd have to kiss Jan or Thor, too, but it would be worth it. "And you want me to buy it."
"That I do, son." Erik reached a gloved hand into the box and pulled out another sprig, holding it up. "See, we've had a hard time shifting this stuff lately. No one cares about mistletoe. But if they saw it in Tony Stark's house..."
Nodding, Tony set the little bundle back in its box. For good measure, he put the ornament beside it. "You mentioned a deal?"
"You buy twenty five dollars of mistletoe, and the ornament's free." A gust of wind blew in as someone opened the door. Erik drew his jacket closer to him and stood up straight. For just a moment, he reminded Tony of someone, but then he slouched again and it was gone. "It's twenty by itself, so you're getting a bargain."
"A real bargain..." Tony frowned, wondering why the whole situation was setting his internal alarms off. It was only twenty five dollars. He could lose that every hour for a year and not miss it. And Erik certainly wasn't the first salesman to try and profit off the Stark image.
Besides that, even if the claims that the mistletoe would last longer were bogus, it would just mean it dried up in the rafters. The rules weren't any different for dried or fresh, as far as Tony knew. He'd have a whole month to catch Steve under it. That was worth the money. The ornament was just a pretty icing on the cake.
"Alright, Mr. Laufeyson, it's a deal." Tony held out his hand, and Erik slapped his palm into it for a shake. "I'll tell everyone who asks where I got the mistletoe, and the ornament, as long as it lives up to your word."
The old man grinned, his blue eyes gleaming. "Don't you worry, Mr. Stark. It's going to be magic."
Thor stood well back as Tony hung the last of the mistletoe with a pretty red bow. He wasn’t going to allow the murdering thing close enough to do to him what it had done to Baldur. Or so he said.
“I mistrust that monstrosity,” Thor grumbled. "Diabolical plans lurk within its evil heart. Take care and bind it well, friend Tony."
Tony rolled his eyes. “It’s just a plant,” he said, but to appease Thor he checked to make sure the mistletoe was solidly anchored before stepping down off the stool. Twenty five dollars worth had been a lot of mistletoe. Every major doorway in the mansion had a sprig over it, along with most of the halls and a few over convenient gathering spots. In the den, the as-yet undecorated tree was practically ringed with it. The Mansion had been transformed into a deathtrap for kisses, just like Tony planned. Steve would have to be completely out of town in order to avoid it. "It won’t hurt you."
“So you say,” Thor insisted darkly. He reached up with Mjolnir and poked the hanging bit of greenery. It shed pollen in a spray of yellow dust and a chime from its bells.
As soon as the dust touched Tony's nose, it started tickling. He wrinkled it to fight back a sneeze. The last thing he needed was to be allergic to his own brilliant schemes. Then he might as well pack up the suits and go be a penny-rate villain with the Wrecking Crew.
Thor was still staring at the mistletoe, his eyes distant. Fresh pollen dropped down from the plant, painting his cheeks with freckles. He huffed out a sneeze. "Foul thing," he grumbled, crossing his arms over an impressively muscled chest. "Is there more? I would see the imprudent bedecking of these halls with the fiend finished, that I might know where it lurks."
"Just one more thing." Reaching into the box, Tony pulled out the glass mistletoe. The silver bells on its ribbon tinkled. Tony's nose tickled again. "I'm going to put it on the entry. Unless you think it needs to be under guard?"
The question had been mostly facetious, but Thor looked like he was seriously considering it. "Tis but glass," he finally announced, waving his hand dismissively. "A faint shadow of the murderer. You may hang it as you like."
"Gee, thanks. Glad you approve." Step ladder braced on his hip, Tony headed for the foyer with Thor lurking behind.
"Hey, Tony," Jan chirped as Tony passed the door to the den, making him pause. She and Peter were absorbed in one of their video games—so absorbed Tony was surprised she noticed him. As far as he could see, Jan hadn't even looked away from the TV. The pollen was surprisingly thick for such small plants. Jan had a fine dusting over her shoulders, but Peter had managed to escape by way of clinging to the ceiling while he bashed away at the controller. "Decorating?"
"It's a little early, isn't it?" Peter chimed in. Behind his mask it was hard to tell, but Tony was pretty sure he wasn't looking either.
Tony planted the stepladder by the front door and started to climb. "It's never too early to deck the halls with heads of your enemies," he joked, earning a grumble from Thor. He ignored the protest and reached up to start twisting a hook into the ceiling.
"We're decorating with villains now? Cool," was all Jan had to say. "Dibs on Ultron."
"I will take the Mandarin." Ororo trailed Luke down the stairs across from the den. They were both loaded down with cardboard boxes and dressed in thick coats. "Why are we choosing villains?"
"Cage match," Peter answered, as the sounds of button mashing reached extreme levels. "Loser ends up as holiday decorations. Can I fight the Enchantress?"
"We are not having a villainous cage match." Tony finished hanging the little glass decoration and adjusted the length of the ribbon so every time the door opened it would ring. "I'm just hanging mistletoe. Thor thinks it's evil. It was a joke."
Luke shifted his box, making whatever was in it clank around. From overhead, Tony could see that it was filled with odds and ends, books they'd already read through and a lamp Tony had wanted to get rid of. "Why are you hanging mistletoe?" he asked suspiciously.
"I'm starting to wonder," Tony muttered. He gave the belled ribbon one last tweak to make sure it wasn't too long or too short, then started down to earth.
Half-way down, the front door swung open, letting in a blast of cold air and slamming into one of the legs of Tony's ladder. He fumbled for the top, but his foot slipped, knee hitting the rung on the way down. With a yell, he dropped off, crashing right onto the bundled-up form of Steve Rogers. Pain shot through his hip as it cracked against the tile floor.
Overhead, the mistletoe's bells jingled.
Steve sat up, groaning. "Tony? Are you..." He paused, wrinkling his nose as fine, glittering gold dust drifted down from above. Then he sneezed. The muscles in his chest and stomach tightened under Tony's hand, which had somehow slipped under Steve's coat. He sneezed again, curling forward, chapped lips parted.
They stared at each other. Something about the dust teased the back of Tony's mind—a glass ornament didn't have pollen, and this one didn't have any sort of glitter either. Something was very, very wrong. Those thoughts were shoved away by the feel of Steve's stomach under his fingertips and the firm muscle of his thigh against Tony's knee. Even the aches from his hard landing became secondary.
He'd always gotten a thrill out of touching Steve. Brushes in the hallway, a hand up after a hard fight, training in the gym. Tony had always been a tactile person, preferring to put his hands on something over any other method of examination. Just then, he wanted to get his hands all over Steve.
"I heard a crash. Is everyone okay?" Out of the corner of his eye, Tony saw Jan wander into the room to stand by Ororo, cheeks pink as if she'd been out in the cold. Wind from the open doorway blew a drift of pollen into her face. She rubbed her nose and let out a delicate little sneeze. "And did someone turn the heater up?"
Over Jan's head, Peter crouched, looking confused. "It's actually kind of cold in here... Um. Guys?"
"Cap?" Tony's voice shook slightly. His nose itched from the pollen, and some of it was catching in Steve's eyelashes and his hair, far more than there should have been from such a little plant, but Tony couldn't care about that, not when Steve was all broad shoulders and hard muscle and staring at him like he was about to—
Steve fisted Tony's shirt and yanked him down. The cold tip of Steve's nose deliberately brushed against Tony's. "Hush." His mouth slanted over Tony's, tasting of peppermint. There was a faint sticky residue on Steve's lips that Tony couldn't quite place, but that made Steve's lips catch against his, instead of sliding smoothly.
"Guys? " Peter's voice sounded high-pitched and panicky. "Jan—you—Cap...?"
Candy cane, Tony realized, just before getting the air knocked out of him as Steve flipped him over and pinned him to the floor. His hands burrowed under Steve's coat, trying and failing to find skin under the layers. Eventually he remembered to try the zipper, but by then he'd already gotten it halfway down just from yanking.
Somewhere in the struggle Steve's knee knocked into the door, nudging it closed. Something heavy dropped to the ground, Peter was babbling, and fabric was being torn, a combined effect that almost drew Tony's attention away from Steve for a second. But then the zipper came loose and nothing could be as important as stripping Steve's clothes off of him.
Someone slammed into a wall and a feminine voice groaned. Steve glanced up at the sound, and Tony took advantage of the distraction to shove the jacket down Steve's arms. It bundled at his elbows and twisted, forcing Cap to sit up to keep his balance. That gave Tony the opening he needed to yank Steve's t-shirt out of his jeans, slipping his hand under it to feel hot skin underneath. He spread his fingers over Steve's ribs, marveling at the smooth glide of muscles. It was like feeling an ancient piece of art come to life under his hands. Michelangelo couldn't have done better.
Clumsily, Steve twisted to get free of the coat. His hips rocked into Tony's, an unmistakable reminder that peak of human perfection wasn't just a catch phrase. Feeling Steve through his jeans was a good start, but not nearly enough. Tony's hands itched to run over him, learn the dimensions and texture, memorize every square inch. Just as Steve managed to rid himself of the coat, Tony gripped his shirt and shoved it over his head, pulling it off entirely. Gold dust sprinkled down onto hard, clean planes of firm muscle, giving Tony yet another reason to stop breathing.
Jeans were harder. Steve wore them tight, and his cock was just making them tighter. Steve got in his way, too, yanking at Tony's button-up shirt, knocking his hands aside. In retaliation, Tony ran his fingers over Steve's bulge and made him fumble. "Ha," he breathed against Steve's lips, grabbing the button on Steve's fly and popping it open. White briefs peeked through the gap. Licking his lips, Tony reached in. "Got you now—"
In a flash his wrists were pinned over his head in one hand. Disappointment that he'd missed his chance melted away at the hunger in Steve's eyes. Heat shivered down Tony's skin as Steve leaned down into his face, growling, pollen dusting his cheeks like glitter. Fresh in from the cold or not, he was a wall of heat. "Who has who, again?"
One by one, the buttons on Tony's shirt popped off under Steve's fingers, scattering across the floor. Cloth ripped across the back of his shoulders and the seams of Tony's sleeves. In a heartbeat it was gone, and Tony's slacks were next, removed with the same efficiency he'd seen Steve use dismantling bombs. In less time than it took to make a cup of coffee, Steve had him stripped and his clothes tossed across the room.
Steve's nails raked down the sharp angle of Tony's hipbone. Tony groaned, arching upward. Teeth sank into Tony's throat, then lower to leave a bruise on his collarbone. Writhing, Tony managed to hook his thigh between Steve's and rock upward. Hard metal teeth from Steve's open zipper scratched his skin, but then Steve groaned and a little bit of pain hardly mattered at all.
Sharp peppermint coated Tony's tongue as he leaned up to kiss Steve. Every little movement ground him up into Steve's cock, sending bright sparks through Tony's vision. Simultaneously, it loosened the hold on his wrists, which gave him even more freedom of motion. He arched up again, biting his tongue as the rough fabric of Steve's jeans rubbed over him.
Something's not right, Tony's higher functions helpfully submitted for review while the rest of him was utterly shut down by Steve's body. He'd started the day certain that he'd be lucky to get even a kiss, and now Steve had him naked and pinned to the floor in the foyer. Things just didn't work that way.
Groaning, Tony pulled away from Steve's mouth. Something sharp and flowery coated the back of his tongue, fine grit that he couldn't quite swallow. "Wait—wait, Steve— something's wrong."
Blue eyes rolled down at him as Steve pressed a hard kiss to his jaw. "What?" he demanded, voice low and rough with sex.
Breathing without Steve's lips against his was nearly impossible. Tony took a gulp of air and told his lungs to just deal with it. The little bit of Steve's body that he could see was gorgeous, and not nearly enough. He needed to feel Steve under his fingertips, map him out and learn what made him tick. "You—you're overdressed."
Surging upward, Tony wrested his wrists free and shoved, rolling Steve onto his back. He followed just enough to hook his fingers in Steve's jeans and tug. They caught on his hips, so impossibly tight that it was a miracle Steve could even breathe. Tony kept working at it, assisted by Steve's squirming, until the blasted things slid down his thighs and took his briefs with them.
Unable to help himself, Tony glanced down. The Captain America uniform never left anything to the imagination, but there was still a surprise to be had. "Uncircumcised?" he blurted out. Of course, it made sense with the time period Steve had been born in, but he'd always pictured...
"Serum healed everything," Steve explained, levering himself up onto his elbows as he kicked his jeans the rest of the way off. Behind blond eyelashes his pupils had blown wide open. "Well? Are you going to gawk, or are you going to make yourself useful?"
Tony licked his lips. Steve was delicious, stretched out under him, flushed and eager. He loved seeing him like this, loved knowing that it was Tony that he wanted, not Jan, or some pretty girl that he'd saved. "Definitely useful."
He wrapped his hand around Steve's cock, eyeing it measuringly. Steve was big, but not unreasonably so. It couldn't be that different from other men, he reasoned, leaning down to slide his tongue over the head. Tony made a face at the salty taste of precum, but Steve's breath caught, which was always a good sign. Rolling his eyes up to watch Steve's expression, Tony wrapped his lips around the shaft and slid his mouth down until Steve nudged the back of his throat. Back in the day, Tony had managed to train away his gag reflex, but he was too impatient to relearn the trick. Humming, he worked his tongue down along the down and used his hand to cover what his mouth couldn't.
Strong fingers slid through Tony's hair, gripping close to the scalp. Steve made tiny, breathless whimpers every time he bumped Tony's throat, followed by a deeper gasp when Tony's tongue slid under the head. Once he learned to work with the extra skin it was easy to move past and relax into it. Tony even risked swallowing an extra inch before his gag reflex remembered itself and he had to back off. He glanced up to see Steve's reaction again.
Steve's eyes were fixed on what Tony was doing to him, barely blinking, giving Tony's ego an unnecessary but welcome boost. Raising his eyebrows, Tony stroked his thumb just behind Steve's balls. Steve's eyes rolled back in his head as he arched off the floor with a surprised shout.
He needed something—lube was upstairs, and there was no way Tony was going to go all the way up there to get it. But Steve spread out under him was too good a chance to miss. There was only one real option. Grinning around the cock in his mouth, Tony dragged his thumb behind Steve's balls again. He was rewarded as Steve came with great, shuddering gasps, hands tightening almost painfully in Tony's hair.
Only by dint of sheer will did Tony keep from gagging on the flavor or swallowing to avoid it. When Steve had stopped spilling over his tongue, Tony spit it out into his palm. It wasn't great, but it was better than nothing. He coated his fingers and slipped them down to press one gently inside. Steve's expression tensed with concentration, but he relaxed easily, legs falling open to give Tony more room.
Someone's been practicing, Tony thought, leaning down to drag his tongue along Steve's softening cock. The idea sent a shiver of heat down his spine. If he searched Steve's rooms, would he find a carefully hidden box of goodies? A dildo maybe, or a strap-on for one of his infrequent girlfriends to use? It was much easier to picture than Tony would have thought— Steve spread out on a bed working himself open with a toy, eyes closed and one knee propped up, groaning and grinding down... And once the image was there it was stuck.
What else was Captain America up to that Tony never knew about?
Tony dared to look up again, but this time Steve was staring intently off to the left, lips parted in sharp pants. Curious, he followed Steve's line of sight. Just a few feet away, Jan was sharing Luke and Thor's laps. It would have been a shame for Ororo if she hadn't been pinned between Jan and Luke, getting plenty of attention from three sets of hands. Tony caught himself timing his fingers to their movements, twisting and curling them, adding a second when Ororo cried out and Steve made a barely audible whimper.
Whether it was the super soldier serum or Tony was just the luckiest man in the world, Steve started growing hard again after barely a couple of minutes. He rode Tony's fingers, rocking down as his body relaxed, just the way Tony had pictured. Tony was captivated by the way his flush extended down to his chest, and how his whole body seemed to flex when Tony touched something sensitive.
The glide and tug of Steve's muscles gripping his fingers had to be in the top ten Best Things Ever. Tony would have kept going just to see how far he could push, but Steve's leg snapped around Tony's waist and yanked him in close after not nearly long enough.
"You start it, you finish it," he groaned, open his eyes to stare down at Tony. He pushed down onto Tony's fingers again. "Come on."
"This'll suck as lube," Tony warned, and Steve's leg tightened again.
"Don't care. It'll be fine." Steve hissed and arched his back in a way that slid Tony's fingers deeper into him. "Just do it."
That made Tony grin. He twisted his fingers inside Steve, brushing up against his prostate before pulling them out. "You're going to owe Nike royalties."
The leg around Tony's waist squeezed in warning before Steve grabbed Tony's shoulders and dragged him forward. His hands landed hard on the tile, bruising his palms. "If you don't fuck me inside one minute," Steve growled, "I'm going to flip you over and spank you."
Air was suddenly in preciously short supply. He ground his cock down against Steve's, dry skin catching. "Is that a promise?" he asked breathlessly.
"Next time then." Tony rubbed his fingers together and frowned. Most of the come he'd saved had ended up smeared on the floor. Lacking anything better, he spit in his hand to slick himself up. The tug and pull after ignoring his dick for so long felt so good that he almost kept going, but Steve's other leg wrapped around him and reminded him that there were better things to be had.
Tony's deeply buried and often ignored reasonable side tried to get his attention again. Steve had never shown any sign of being interested in Tony before, it pointed out. Or in men at all. And the most unlikely foursome in the world was finishing up just out of arm's length. Didn't Tony think something odd was going on?
Nope, not listening, la la la la, Tony told himself as he leaned forward and kissed Steve. Common sense was buried under the slick touch of Steve's tongue and the bite of his fingers on Tony's hips.
There were better ways to do it, more comfortable positions than with Steve on his back. Tony's knees were aching and stiff, and Steve's shoulders couldn't be much better, but Steve would probably break him in two if Tony tried to pull away. He lined himself up and moved just enough to watch Steve's eyes glaze over as he pushed in. It was slow, and not as slick as Tony would have liked but not dry enough to make him stop. Steve's muscles gave way smoothly, gripping without fighting him. Heat crawled along Tony's skin, eating at him until he'd buried himself all the way.
Steve's teeth sank into Tony's throat, leaving a fresh round of bruises. "More," he ordered, squeezing his thighs to make Tony move.
"When did you get to be so demanding?" Tony laughed, but rolled his hips as ordered. He groaned when Steve clenched around him. It dragged at his cock, trying to hold him inside. "Stop that—" Tony gasped, feeling his brain grind to a stop for the umpteenth time. God, Steve was amazing. "Or you're going to have to finish on your own."
"And then I get to watch you," Steve said, and that teasing, devilish tone should have been illegal coming out of Captain America's mouth. "Come on, come on—"
Composure slipped through Tony's fingers as he ground their hips together, winning a sharp groan for his efforts. Steve whispered encouragement in his ear, the litany only broken when Tony managed some trick that made him stop breathing entirely. Heat built between them as they rocked together, slow thrusts building into something more. Sweat pooled between Tony's shoulder blades and dripped down his forehead to sting in his eyes.
"Let me see you," Steve's voice growled against his ear. Blunt nails dragged down Tony's back, sending a spike of light through Tony's vision like a camera flash. "Come on, Tony, do it—"
Tony groaned and came, gasping Steve's name into his shoulder. Distantly he felt something move between them, and then a shudder and a spill of warmth as Steve followed behind him. They lay together, hearts pounding, as the exhausted silence settled. His cheek pressed against Steve's shoulder, rubbing until he found a good hollow; it wasn't the most comfortable of pillows, but the view was great, and the company even better. Basking in the loose, warm afterglow seemed like an excellent idea. Possibly one of the best he'd had all day, in a day full of excellent ideas.
"I always wanted to do that," Jan groaned from somewhere under Luke. The foursome had settled into a pile of naked, sweaty bodies and, for Luke and Thor, growing expressions of confusion. If Jan felt the same way, she didn't sound it. "Why did I? And can we do it again?"
"I did too," Steve muttered, so quietly that Tony almost missed it. Warm, strong arms wrapped around Tony's waist, squeezing gently.
Reason, logic and common sense teamed up to wave a huge, billboard-sized warning sign in the back of Tony's brain. They didn't have a chance of breaking through the golden fog of afterglow.
"I love you," Tony said, wiping a bit of pollen from his nose. The whole world was fuzzy, warm and welcoming and full of good ideas. The possibilities seemed utterly limitless.
Back near the main entrance, something went crash, with the tinkle of a hundred tiny pieces of glass scattering over tile.
In the blink of an eye, the fog cleared from Tony's head. He blanched. Why did I say that?
Steve's breath stopped again, and not in the good way. "You do?"
Caught out, all Tony could do was nod.
He could feel Steve tense under him. "Tony, I—"
"I caught the bad guy!" Peter announced from the ceiling. He had one hand over his eyes, and the other held a webbed-up bundle of greenery. "I caught him and he's all webbed up in the kitchen and the mistletoe is down so if you guys could please put on some clothes I'd be really, really grateful."
Irritation flashed over Steve's face, but Tony wasted no time scrambling to his feet. He was a sticky mess of sweat and other bodily fluids, and Steve wasn't much better. He grabbed up their pants, tossed Steve his jeans, and then slipped his own on as quickly as he could.
Jan stretched languidly and squirmed her way free of Thor and Luke, then bent to help Ororo up. Neither lady seemed to care that Peter was blushing through his mask. For their part, Thor and Luke looked reasonably embarrassed as they scrambled for their clothes. Tony snuck glances, but with Steve on one side and everyone else on the other, he couldn't look everywhere at once.
"Mistletoe?" Ororo asked, shaking out her hair. As long as it was, it really didn't cover anything significant. "Is that what caused this?"
Thor stamped a bare foot. "I knew that foul monstrosity was treacherous."
"And I thought Tony was just hanging it to catch Cap?" Jan added, reaching for her discarded costume. Steve cast Tony a sharp look, but Tony looked away hurriedly.
"Are you dressed?" Peter asked plaintively. The bundle swung from his hand. It was, indeed, all the mistletoe Tony had spent the afternoon hanging. "I don't think I can talk about this until no one's naked."
Jan and Ororo shrugged, clearly not intending to hurry themselves. Steve crossed his arms over his bare chest. "Just tell us."
So Peter did. They all listened in a mix of amusement and horror as he explained how he'd realized the mistletoe was at fault. While he'd been going through the house webbing it up, he'd stumbled on a cameraman. Dangling the trespasser from the roof had gotten Peter the information that he'd been given an anonymous tip about Avenger orgies, and had decided it was worth the risk. There was a long ramble about the difficulty of avoiding all the mistletoe Tony had hung, the fight with the photographer, and a brief aside about sandwich toppings, but eventually Peter managed to explain the gist of it.
"So we were exposed to some sort of freaky magic pollen that lowered our inhibitions and made us jump each other like rabbits in heat," Luke summed up, shifting his weight awkwardly. He hadn't looked at any of them since he'd finished dressing. "You managed to keep from being dosed and saved our bacon."
"We still don't know who is behind this," Jan pointed out. "Not too many people could pull off something like this."
"It is like as not my brother, Loki," Thor sniffed, glaring at Tony. "Mistletoe is a weapon he has favored before. As I previously mentioned, before this ill-advised endeavor was undertaken. You have my thanks, Spider-Man."
"Anytime. Are you dressed now?"
"We have been for fifteen minutes." Tony had known the guy at the tree farm looked familiar. He rubbed his forehead, feeling a headache born of acute humiliation coming on. Every time he tried to catch Steve's eye, Steve had found something fascinating on the ceiling to stare at. A quick glance upward showed a stuck piece of the web that had knocked the glass mistletoe down. It wasn't that interesting, though. "Not that it matters. Lesson learned."
"There was a lesson to this incident?" Ororo asked bemusedly. She and Jan were practically hanging off each other, which Tony would have found much more interesting if only Steve would look at him.
"Of course there was," Jan commented. "Always wear nice panties, because you never know who will see them."
"Don't trust strange old men?" Luke suggested.
"Invest in earplugs?" was Peter's contribution.
"Close." Tony bent and grabbed his shirt, then headed for the stairs. Time to make a break for it, before Steve remembered that he had to shoot Tony down. "The lesson is that Thor is always right, but 'don't trust strange old men' is a good one. At least a good time was had by all, I guess. I'll be down in my lab if anyone needs me."
Five minutes later, Tony was half-way through dismantling a molecular destabilizer when he heard Steve come down the stairs. Everyone had their own unique walk, and Tony had learned to recognize them. Thor's was deliberate and heavy, as if challenging the floor to a duel. Ororo's step was lighter, slower; sometimes he didn't even hear her. Steve though, Steve walked like he was marching off to battle, striding across the floor.
Tony kept his head down when Steve paused at the foot of the stairs. He could just see his bare feet, toes curling against the cold concrete floor. He strained his eyes to see farther, and was barely able to make out Steve's bare shoulder. Maybe if I ignore him, he'll go away.
In the back of his head, Logic, Common Sense and Reason grabbed their coats and went out for drinks. Traitors.
Steve shifted from foot to foot for a minute. When Tony didn't respond, he cleared his throat. He stepped closer, more directly into Tony's line of sight. Florescent light bounced stickily off the dried sweat on Steve's chest. It took all the willpower Tony could dig up to not look.
"So. We turned the camera man over to the police for trespassing. He didn't see anything, but he was in the building. And Giant Girl and Storm have gone upstairs."
"Mmhm," Tony hummed, fumbling a screw driver.
"And I think Spider-Man's gone to see his aunt."
"Luke and Thor are hiding."
For a minute, Steve went quiet, and Tony thought he'd won. Then Steve touched his shoulder. "Tony... Look at me. Please?"
Reluctantly, Tony dropped his tools and turned around. Steve's face was pinched, his shoulders drawn in. Whatever he was about to say, he obviously didn't want to.
So Tony started first.
"What happened back there—what I said... Look, I don't expect you to return my feelings, okay?" He swallowed back a lump in his throat the size of a small moon. Steve's eyes were huge and blue, and there was a tiny purple bruise developing on his neck where Tony had managed to get a good bite in. "You don't even have to like me. Magical pollen explains everything, right? So just—just go back upstairs, and we'll forget all about it."
The corner of Steve's mouth turned down in a frown. "Are you done talking?"
"Good." Steve's hand curled around to the back of Tony's neck. With one sharp tug, he yanked him forward, slamming their mouths together. Tony clung to Steve, his lips parting easily as Steve's tongue pushed between them. He found himself pinned back against his workbench, with Steve slotted neatly between his legs. It was just as well, because Tony's knees chose that moment to follow Reason and the rest out for drinks.
The kiss ended slowly, trailing off with a dozen tiny kisses to spare. "I love you too," Steve whispered from close enough that Tony could see his white-blond lashes." And if you think you're going to walk out of this and nobly let me pretend it never happened, you have another think coming."
"Oh." Tony licked his lips, missing the taste of peppermint. It must have worn off sometime. Nothing else was really making sense, but he could manage to miss Steve's candy cane breath. Knots wrapped around and through Tony's heart, yanking it. "So I didn't need the mistletoe?"
Steve laughed and nudged their lips together again. "You never need mistletoe to get kisses from me."