They’re in the lab, Tony bent over a soldering iron and Steve to his right, arms crossed and feet spread. Cap looks disgruntled, amused, and then about as mischievous as any kid from the streets of Brooklyn can, right before he bends at the waist and hauls Tony onto his shoulder. Tony is too shocked at first to flail, to grasp at his table or equipment. He’s in the air and Jesus, no one has hauled him around like this since. . .no this is actually an entirely new experience. Lots of people treat Tony like he’s a child. After all, he is an emotionally stunted billionaire genius with ADD and a classic case of narcissism. It’s not actually that far off from being one of the little prepubescent nightmares, so he can’t blame anyone for making the connection.
This though, this manhandling is new.
Tony admits to himself that he hadn’t exactly realized what he and Cap were doing could be termed flirting until that moment. Sure, their banter had become more amicable. It was no less heated at times, but there was at least respect and playfulness in their interactions as well. That was just getting to know one another as co-leaders of the Avengers though, a byproduct of battle and time. Tony could, completely objectively, admire the physical perfection of Steve after a workout, flushed pink and panting. Or the way his eyes danced with amusement even when he forced that heroic jaw-line into a stern angle of disappointment. Those were just aesthetics, like admiring a well crafted engine, or Tony enjoying the danger of Natasha’s thighs without any actual intention of finding himself between them.
Somewhere along the way though, and he couldn’t be sure exactly where (but it had to have been sometime between breaking up with Pepper and helping Cap dig the shrapnel out of his back as his flesh tried to heal itself around the jagged pieces in the middle of the night. Clint really wouldn’t have survived that one if Steve hadn’t taken the brunt of the blast.) Tony had stopped admiring ascetic beauty and started flirting with Steven Rogers.
Which, in itself, is not miraculous or paradigm shifting in the least. Tony flirts with everyone. There’s an element of sarcasm, flirtation and even challenge to his interactions with almost every person on the planet. It’s who he is. It’s not even that surprising that Tony hadn’t realized he was actively flirting with Captain America. It’s rather more of a surprise to be introduced to the idea that the flirting was a mutual thing. A two person thing, where one person flirted and then the other person flirted back. Because that would mean Steve Rogers was, in this hypothetical scenario, flirting with Tony Stark. Things like that just didn’t happen.
It takes Tony, a self-proclaimed genius, months to realize all of this. He doesn’t even harbor a suspicion until that mischievous look, until the moment Cap lifts him off his stool. Uninhibited by his pathetically sleep-deprived brain processes, a wave of hot and unadulterated want shoots down his spine and pools a little too quickly in Tony’s groin.
Tony’s groin, which is conveniently pressed tightly into the line of Steve’s shoulder.
He panics, that’s the only word for the wildly uncoordinated flailing of limbs that occurs. His hands grip and slide wildly against Steve’s back as he tries to push himself up and away from the contact, only that’s wrong. That’s leverage 101 you idiot. That’s pushing his hips into Steve, and as Tony manages to tip himself upright in a move he can only hope will at least let him end this on the unforgiving floor with some dignity left to him, Cap wraps a large hand around his thigh and pushes upwards, driving Tony back down across his shoulder.
The feel of that large palm on the back of his thigh, right below his ass, sends another tight pulse of panic and wantneedyes through Tony.
Happy in a bikini. Fury naked. Reed Richards lecturing in a thong-
Luckily, the combination of his desperate, wiggly bid for freedom and the warm hand on his thigh – practically cupping right below his ass – repositions him far enough that he ends up with his stomach shoved into Steve’s shoulder instead of his groin. This is considerably less comfortable for the purposes of breathing, but also less likely to necessitate further contemplation of Fury’s naked body just to keep things decent.
Jesus, just the thought of his erection rubbing against Steve’s chest is enough to make him- No! Tony tells his brain sternly, he can think about that later. Alone, very alone.
Wait, Steve’s talking. How long has Steve been talking?
“-I don’t care how much you struggle or yell Tony, you are going to bed. What if we got a call right now? You can’t fly in this condition. I’m not-“
. . .Right. Right! Steve wanted him to sleep. Tony had been sassing him (flirting with him). Steve had sassed him back (flirted back?) and then Cap had decided their argument (flirting?) should be escalated to a physical altercation (a warm hand on the back of his thigh.) And now Tony is being carried over a well-muscled shoulder, staring straight at an ass that Tony is fairly sure he himself could not have designed better. And oh, his hands are just close enough to-
What in the name of circuitry does he normally do with his hands? His hands aren’t normally anywhere in the vicinity of Steve Roger’s ass, Tony is sure about that. In fact, he’s positive he’d have known if his hands had ever seemed this conveniently close to Steve’s ass. He could not possibly have been oblivious to proximity like this, it wasn’t possible.
He should stop thinking about Steve’s ass before what little remaining dignity he has finds a way to grind itself out against Steve’s chest, actually.
The elevator – Now that he’s looked away from Steve’s ass Tony realizes they’re taking the private line up to the penthouse. – is strangely quiet as Tony searches his mind for things that won’t lead him to grabbing Steve’s ass or in any other way embarrassing at least one of them.
Steve’s silent too, as if he realizes Tony’s checked out and isn’t listening to anything except the confusing mix of sensory input following days of deprivation and his own always chaotic thought processes. Maybe he thinks Tony’s plotting something. Maybe that’s why the steady strength of one hand is still gripping Tony’s thigh, keeping him in place. The warmth of Steve’s hand has already clawed its way through the fabric of his jeans, and Tony has to keep himself from shifting to try to get that warmth and pressure to more interesting places. In the silence of the elevator the points at which Steve touches him are all he can concentrate on, the feeling of that hand as central to his being as the arch reactor. He thinks about laughing eyes and stern jaws and his hands twitch, itching to touch in return. He feels like he hasn't touched anyone in days, in weeks. Maybe he hasn't, he can't remember.
Jesus, what do people usually do with their hands in this situation? He’s never been slung over someone’s shoulder before. Like a sack of potatoes. Shifting slightly at last, Tony catches the smell of the t-shirt that he can’t remember having changed in several days. He immediately stills, hoping that a lack of movement will somehow keep super senses from catching the smell of sweat, unwashed skin and burnt metal. It’s embarrassing, he’s only just realized he’s been flirting with Steve, and apparently he’s been doing it most recently while in a state of unwashed mania. He is definitely being slung like a sack of potatoes. Unsexy potatoes. Unsexy, unwashed potatoes with a bit of a beard growing in.
Maybe he was wrong about the flirting being mutual, he considers.
After all, Steve usually gets flustered and holds doors open for the girls he likes. He doesn’t get all handsy. This is definitely handsy. Maybe this is a buddy thing. Buddies rough house, right? Tony doesn’t know, because for the most part his male friends were either too terrified of his body guards growing up or just too mature to rough house. Conceptually it fits in with this newly- handsy activity. Steve is treating him like a buddy. An unsexy, unwashed potato-sack buddy who he needs to cart to bed for his own good.
Tony feels himself sag a little as the doors open into the penthouse, not sure why he feels disappointed. He’d only just hypothesized flirtation a few moments ago. He shouldn’t be so attached to the idea already. Steve stops as they pass the kitchen and there’s a small shrug that isn’t comfortable at all, but brings Tony back to the present.
Tony tends to get monosyllabic, and then finally nonverbal, after too long without sleep or coffee, so he grunts in response when Steve asks him when he last ate. J.A.R.V.I.S. jumps in to inform Cap of whatever the actual answer might be and probably tattle about the sleep priority protocols that are supposed to keep Tony from working while having sleep deprivation induced hallucinations. Tony’s busy contemplating whether grabbing Steve’s ass after all will at least get him put down. He could go hide back in the lab where no one will care about his unwashed state or treat him like a sack of potatoes. He’s even here on the floor with the coffee machine. He can escape, get coffee, and then get back to work. Coffee and machines, the two things he needs to sooth the strange sting of disappointment. Plus, he’d get to grab Steve’s ass in a perfectly legitimate bid to obtain his rightful freedom. It won’t be misinterpreted as an actual ass-grab, while still familiarizing Tony with the chiseled planes in question.
Tony’s so busy with his escape plan and deciding exactly how he’d like to get his hands on that ass – He’s thinking two handed grip and lift –that he almost doesn’t realize they’ve reached his bedroom. The door slides open and the silent intimacy of his room is suddenly wrapped around the two of them. It’s night, and the stars are out over the city skyline. Tony’s breath stills in his chest when Steve’s hand twitches on his thigh, and he wonders suddenly if Steve wants to draw it, because that's Steve's drawing-twitch. Tony does have one of the best views of the city. All the tower views are great, but Tony’s used filters and special coating on the glass in his own rooms to really bring out the details of the city. It makes him feel alive to really see it like this. Maybe Tony should invite him back to draw. They could hang out on his bed . . .like buddies.
Tony admits to some confusion about what buddies do together when there aren’t stripping stewardesses or alcoholic drinks involved. He’s still silently contemplating social norms in that arena when Steve finally looks away from the city skyline.
Then Steve Rogers is striding on long, powerful legs towards his bed and Tony’s brain shuts off again. Tony’s trying to disconnect himself from his body while simultaneously recording every image and sensation of this moment. He’s going to use this later. It’s going to be him, his hand, a glass of scotch and the mental image of Steve Rogers charging his bed with purposeful strides and Tony on his shoulder. He won’t let himself think about that now, he’ll just mentally record it for later, because the danger of socially inappropriate erections has not yet passed.
And that’s before Tony gets tossed down on the bed.
Every part of his nervous system finds this something to be extremely excited about, and Tony tries to remind those nerve endings that he is currently an unwashed sack of potatoes, not a soon to be ravaged playboy with conveniently placed lube in his side table. This reminder is promptly ignored by the brain Tony really should figure out how to upgrade when Steve looms over him, his arms on either side of Tony’s prone body, one knee on the bed to the right of his hip. It’s only when Tony finds himself staring into Steve’s eyes that he freezes, his eyes widen, he feels himself holding his breath.
Tony briefly sends out a plea to anyone willing to buy his soul if he can somehow not have bad breath after almost three days without eating or sleeping, because for one insane and brief moment Steve’s eyes trace over Tony’s face, Tony’s horribly chapped lips, and Tony is almost sure he’s going to get kissed by Captain America.
He isn’t, but for the first time since the lab Cap has his complete and full attention when he says;
“You are going to sleep for at least eight hours. You are then going to wake up, shower, shave, put on something that doesn’t smell like burnt metal, and come eat a large meal. Yes, that is a checklist. No, you will not make it back into the lab if you do not complete all items on the checklist.”
It’s the voice of The Captain and Command, tinged with the friendly concern of doe-eyed Steve, the one they all abandon stubbornness for in the end because the guy is just so damn earnest about everything. . .Or maybe that’s just Tony. Tony wants to argue that Steve’s not the boss of him. He wants to say something witty about the Cap’s checklists and paperwork, and maybe a reference to filing his complaints in triplicate next time he wants Tony out of the lab. He wants to arch his hips up into the somehow graceful curve of Steve’s impossibly perfect body, because its cold in here and he hadn’t realized how warm Steve was until he’d thrown Tony on the bed and made him aware of every single cell in his body that wasn’t touching Steve. Instead he finds his mouth dry, his mind blanking on how exactly words work together to form language, and his dick incredibly hard. So Tony nods and tries not to stare at Steve’s mouth when the other man gives him a slightly suspicious look before he stands back up.
Tony’s convinced that it’s only by the grace of a dark room and a benevolent deity that Steve doesn’t notice how his hips push up a little in searching protest for contact when he leaves a moment later.