“I think it’s a good idea.”
Tony didn’t look up from his laptop. “I don’t.”
Anyone else might have been off-put by Tony Stark’s apparent disinclination to discuss the issue, but Steve Rogers wasn’t just anyone. For a start, discouraging him on an issue he cared about was nearly impossible, and he cared about this one. In a neighborhood not too far from Stark Towers, graffiti had become a rising problem. A community art wall had been proposed as a solution, but you would think someone had suggested a complete government overhaul from the passionate support and opposition the idea got.
As an artist who believed in an encompassing definition of art, and as a man who felt invested in youth and community, Steve landed on the ‘passionate supporter’ end of the spectrum. It appeared Tony was closer to the other end.
The cause needed a boost, which Steve was willing to give, but he was worried it wasn’t enough. Tony was the one whose name adorned buildings and swayed politicians, after all. Steve had hoped his fellow Avenger would be willing to help. He’d come up to Tony’s office as soon as Jarvis had informed him the afternoon teleconference was over.
“Most of the businesses in the area are fine with an art wall,” Steve said. He leaned against the doorway to Tony’s office, hands in his pockets. “Some are actively in favor of it.”
“They probably shouldn’t be. It goes against common sense to think promoting graffiti will reduce it.”
“We’re promoting legal graffiti.”
Tony quirked his lips into a smile, amused. “How many kids do you think will really respect that qualifier?”
“I would, back when I was a kid. I would’ve jumped at the chance to share my art and put my voice out in the public.” This seemed to be interesting enough to finally pull Tony’s eyes away from the laptop and on to him. Encouraged, Steve continued. “Think of how powerful a tool this could be for quiet or troubled kids who need to make a point.”
“You can’t apply your own experience to all of today’s youth,” Tony pointed out.
“I’m not. I’m saying that even kids can understand the importance of expression.”
“Today’s youth have a place to express themselves. It’s called the internet. And besides, isn’t the big appeal of graffiti its illegal nature?”
Steve was always sensitive to Tony’s body language, and now something in the way Tony averted his gaze caught Steve’s attention. It was a leap, but Steve suspected there was something in this branch of discussion that Tony didn’t want him to know. He played dumb, hoping that If he fished a little in this direction, he might find the key to winning this argument. “What’s so appealing about illegal graffiti?”
“You know what I’m talking about,” Tony said, looking vaguely uncomfortable. “I’m sure for some people, it’s exciting to sneak around, avoiding the police, marking something that doesn’t belong to you, all under the cover of darkness.”
“You make it sound almost glamourous.”
“It probably is. For some.”
“If you think the wall won’t appeal to graffiti artists, then what’s the problem? A blank wall can’t harm anything.”
“Maybe not, but I guarantee you that once the wall is there, it will be blamed for any illegal graffiti within a couple miles of it, whether or not that blame is logical. That’s how public opinion works.”
Steve resisted the urge to roll his eyes at Tony’s cynicism. “If you’re worried about PR, you could support it anonymously,” Steve said.
“And why should I support something I don’t believe in, if not for PR?”
“You could do it for the youth of today who don’t have the means to put their art on the internet.”
Tony arched an eyebrow. “How many kids don’t have a single friend with a camera phone? Three? Four? Steve, anyone that isolated must be living under a rock. Go tell them to spray paint their rock.”
It was obvious that Tony’s attention was starting to drift again, and Steve was feeling the edges of discouragement. It was time to fight dirty. The super soldier cleared his throat, trying to sound and look hesitant about what he had to say next.
“I’ve had an idea for a while now, about some street art I’d like to do...”
It worked like a charm. Tony continued to stare at his laptop screen, but Steve could tell from the way his brow creased that he was intrigued. He pressed on, victory in sight. “I’ve always thought it would be fun to paint anonymously... you know, have a work out there that’s not connected to Captain America. I suppose it would be easy enough to just pick a wall and hope the owners don’t mind. I’d wake up a few hours early - three or four in the morning would be the best bet.”
Steve noticed Tony was beginning to blush slightly. He shamelessly laid it on thicker. “I guess I’d dress in dark clothes, maybe even wear a ski mask. I have a good set of spray paints, and I’d put them in a backpack and slip out of here unnoticed.”
The blush had spread, turning Tony’s ears pink. Steve had been with Tony long enough to recognize the signs - the man was seriously turned on. Steve almost felt bad about how easy this was.
“But can you imagine if I were caught? I have an image to uphold as Captain America, and I can’t be seen vandalizing property. If I were caught painting a wall legally, though - there’s nothing too scandalizing about that.”
Tony was silent for a moment. The way he was staring at the edge of his keyboard, pupils dilated, made it look as if he was deeply fascinated with the caps lock key. When he spoke, though, his voice was aggressively casual. “Any wall of Stark Towers is yours. You don’t even need to ask.”
Steve sighed and left the doorway, choosing to sit in the leather armchair closest to Tony’s desk. “I appreciate that, but it’s too obvious. If you didn’t have it washed off within eight hours, all the Avengers would guess who painted it. It would also probably give ideas to those less enthused with the Avengers or your company.”
“Fine,” Tony grumbled. “Fine. You said that most of the local businesses were okay with this wall?” Steve nodded. “What about those who weren’t? Are you planning on steamrolling over them?”
“No, of course not. That’s why we need you. The neighborhood wants to set up a fund that would clean up any extra vandalism brought on by the wall. That would be enough insurance for the other local businesses. I’m not asking you to sink your money into this - I’ll put my own money into the fund. But any check of yours will be... well, much more convincing than one of mine.”
“If it’s only for a few thousand, I don’t see why. Like you said, you have an image. Captain America’s checks don’t bounce.” Tony pulled a checkbook out from his desk drawer and started scribbling. “You do know that you haven’t changed my mind, right? A community art wall is a superficial non-solution proposed by people trying too hard to be trendy.”
“I don’t want my name splashed around in connection to this. I don’t want any newspapers asking me about it.”
“They won’t. And I won’t mention it to you again, either.”
Tony suddenly looked a bit disappointed. “Well, I think I deserve to know which nights you might be sneaking off to paint, in case there’s an emergency and I need to contact you.”
Steve put on a thoughtful expression. “I guess that’s only fair. I’d hate to worry you by going AWOL during the night.”
“Well, I’ll worry anyway. Villains have such a knack for knowing when super heroes are off by themselves, especially if the hero is attempting an emotionally satisfying activity. I’d say your chances of being attacked are pretty high.” He stared hard at Steve.
“I suppose you could come along, if it’d make you feel better.”
The smile made Tony Stark look less like Tony, the ruthless businessman and more like Tony, the passionate inventor. “I think that’s a great idea.”
Steve did, too.
They decided against the masks. Steve reasoned that two large men in ski masks in any setting besides a ski trail was as good as calling the cops themselves. Tony had to agree, but he refused to back down on the charcoal gray hoodie he had found for Steve no matter how much Steve whined that it made him look like a two-bit thug. Donating to Steve’s cause had made Tony feel like a closeted hippie, so he figured this made them even.
The wall had debuted three weeks ago. In light of all the controversy, it was something of an anticlimax. Maybe people really had been mollified when they heard an anonymous CEO was taking financial responsibility for the wall’s surroundings. Maybe they had gotten tired of this particular news item and moved on to the next. Or maybe - and Tony hoped this was the case - people had finally realized a graffiti wall wasn’t a sign of the second coming.
For all his talk of it being a poor but ultimately inconsequential idea, Tony had spent the last three weeks thinking some pretty warm thoughts about that wall. All of them featured Steve in street clothes, painting by the low light of the street lamps. The warmest of them ended with himself between Steve and the wall.
They were fun fantasies, and Tony shared them liberally with Steve, hoping to speed along the process of making them a reality. His fellow Avenger was constantly postponing their ‘night out’, patiently citing reasons why they couldn’t go yet. It had really started to grate on him.
Sorry, Tony, but I need to work more on my sketches before I can paint. I think it’s too soon, Tony. People are still watching the area pretty closely. Not tonight, Tony; we really need to deal with that mutant that’s terrorizing local duck ponds first.
Tony had perhaps used a bit more force on that villain than was strictly necessary.
The wait was over, though, Tony thought with relief as he watched Steve pack his spray paint cans into a ratty backpack. It was two-thirty in the morning, and Stark Towers was as quiet as it got. They were in Steve’s room. Tony was lying on the bed, dressed and ready to go. He was still marveling that he could feel so hyped about this, when these days fighting evil extra terrestrials could feel mundane. Comfortable, if he was fighting with Steve and the Avengers at his side, but mundane.
He supposed it boiled down to this: Tony vs. Bad Guys had been done ad nauseam. Sneaking out with Steve, though - if he ignored the fact that it was perfectly legal - was Tony and Steve vs. Society at Large. That was new. That was different. That, Tony couldn’t help but find highly erotic.
The charcoal gray hoodie wasn’t hurting. Steve was adjusting the zipper, first zipping it all the way up, and then trying it half way open, exposing the blue shirt he wore underneath. Satisfied, he gestured towards Tony. “Hand me that sketch pad, will you?”
Tony turned his head, trying to see where Steve pointing. Steve grinned. “You’re using it as a pillow.”
“Ah.” He sat up and held the pad out to Steve. “Just trying to get some of your artistic talent through osmosis.”
Steve laughed. “Is that what’s going on when I find you asleep in your workshop with your head on the latest engineering magazine?”
“No, that’s what’s going on when I run out of coffee. You ready?”
Steve slipped the pad into his backpack and slung it over his shoulder. “Yeah. Let’s do this.”
“Great. Which car do you want to take?”
Steve paused with his hand on the doorknob. “Car?”
“Yes, car. Do you want to drive? You know the neighborhood better than I do, so you can pick one that won’t be too conspicuous.”
He was frowning at Tony now. “You do understand the concept of stealth, right?”
“...Obviously, we’d take one without a vanity license plate.”
Steve tossed up his hands, as if momentarily unsure of where to even start. “A car will just hinder us if we need to make a getaway. And you don’t own a single car that wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
Tony shrugged. He liked flashy cars, but that didn’t mean he only owned flashy cars. He got the feeling that pointing that out Steve would accomplish nothing. “I’ll get my armor then. I can fly us there.”
“Stealth, Tony. Under the radar. Unobtrusive. Cloak and dagger. Lurking in the shadows.”
“Fine, fine. No armor. What did you have in mind?”
With a smile, Steve replied, “there are two bicycles waiting for us downstairs.”
Tony stared. “You’re kidding. Oh God, you’re not kidding.”
“Come on, it’s not that bad. They’re perfect for stealth: silent, fast, and small. And you can park them anywhere.”
“I’m not biking several miles in the middle of the night.” Maybe that sounded like fun to super soldiers, but Tony could see himself biking over a pothole and planting face first into the asphalt. Even if he did make it there in one piece, he’d be too exhausted to enjoy the main event.
“I’m not taking one of your cars,” Steve replied, crossing his arms over his chest. After a moment his expression cleared and he let his arms drop to his sides. “How about a compromise?”
Steve slowed the motorcycle slightly before taking the next turn. The autumn night air was cool and crisp, and he could still smell the rain that had fallen earlier that evening. The headlight illuminated a thin layer of cityscape, leaving the rest up to memory or imagination.
All of this barely made an impression on Steve. Instead of taking in the sights, smells and sounds around him, he was hyperaware of Tony Stark sitting behind him, the man’s arms wrapped tightly around his waist.
The road straightened out, and Steve accelerated. Riding with Tony conflicted him; on the one hand, he wanted to drive as carefully as possible, knowing that Tony without the suit was as breakable as any man. On the other hand, he wanted to show Iron Man that this could be as good as flying. He settled for a slower, steady speed, grinning from inside his helmet at the irony that Tony was for once keeping him grounded.
He could feel Tony adjusting his grip as Steve turned again. They drove down a smaller street, and a block later they pulled into a parking lot next to a three story building. As he had expected, all the windows were dark. Steve had decided to park by the United Way center because it seemed less suspicious than parking by a closed shop, and less conspicuous than parking in the street. Plus, the wall was only a five minute walk from here.
Steve parked in the furthest corner of the lot, where they were shaded from the street lamp by a scraggly tree. For a moment he just sat, enjoying the way Tony’s hands curled into the fabric of his hoodie. Steve leaned his head back, and the plastic of their helmets made a dull clack as they tapped against each other.
“Now wasn’t that better than one of your cars?”
“I can see a few points in its favor.” Tony slowly released Steve’s waist. “The chauffeur-passenger relationship is considerably more... intimate on these things.” Steve could feel Tony’s helmet roll against his as the businessman cocked his head. “Not sure how Happy would feel about that.”
Tony lowered himself off the bike and removed his helmet, running a hand through his hair as Steve followed suit. The backpack, which Tony had worn during the ride, was handed back to Steve. He slung it onto his back as he secured the helmets to the motorcycle, and then they were off.
Neither man talked as they walked. Their strides didn’t quite match, but Steve found himself counting out a pattern in their footsteps all the same; every fourth step landed at the same time. The syncopated rhythm stood out against the background noise of the city, more personal than a conversation. There was something almost exotic about a casual walk with Tony.
They passed some apartments, a bar, and a shop that was identified only by some large photos of trendy hairstyles taped up in the window. The wall was between the hairdresser’s and a tiny Chinese restaurant.
Steve had to be honest - the wall didn’t look like much. It was blocking off an alley that was still accessible from the next street over. A small plastic plaque proclaimed it a ‘legal graffiti area’, but few people had taken advantage of it. There were some names and initials in bold, block letters. In one corner there was a small green cartoon something that looked like a cross between a rabbit and a penguin.
“Wow. The local urban artists have really spiced this up,” Tony said.
Steve shrugged. “It leaves more room for us, then.” He dropped the backpack to the pavement and knelt down next to it. After rummaging through it for a moment, he pulled out his sketch pad, a folder, and a couple paints.
He could feel Tony’s eyes locked on him as he planned where on the wall to put his art. He really was glad that there was ample free space; he would have felt bad about painting over someone else’s work. As it was, he only spent a minute staring at the wall before he picked up his blue spray paint can and began.
Tony moved to lean against the other end of the wall, where he could watch Steve’s profile as he painted. Tony was smiling. “How many super heroes have snuck out at night to spray paint?” He asked.
Steve added some black. “Well, there’s Banksy.”
“Banksy isn’t a super hero.”
“Sure he is.”
Tony rolled his eyes. “Painting political art doesn’t count as crime-fighting, no matter how good it is. I’ve never heard of Banksy saving lives.”
“Of course not. How many people have heard of Tony Stark saving lives? Banksy uses a secret identity.”
“I thought Banksy was his secret identity.”
“He uses a double secret identity. It’s very counterculture.”
“That makes no...” Tony frowned. “You’re making this up, aren’t you?”
Steve grabbed two paint cans from his bag and tossed them to Tony. “Be quiet and let me work.”
“Red and gold,” he heard Tony mutter under his breath. “I’m not that predictable, am I?”
The next hour flew by for Steve as he brought his sketches to colorful life on the wall. Out of the corner of his eye, he watched Tony. At first the businessman ignored the paints he was holding, simply staring at Steve instead. Then he walked to a blank space on the wall and began to paint. It looked like a technical drawing, but of what Steve had no idea.
He didn’t realize that Tony had stopped until he paused from his own work to grab some stencils from his bag. He saw that Tony had put his paints back in the backpack, and was now looking at Steve’s art.
“That’s gorgeous. Very film noir.”
“Radio noir would be more accurate.” Steve carefully taped a paper stencil over part of his painting. “And thank you. I promise I’ll be done pretty soon.”
It was a good thing ‘pretty soon’ was subjective, because by the time he put the last finishing touches onto his painting, the sky was a milky gray tinged with pink. He took several steps back to observe his work, and then quietly announced, “I’m done.” The next thing he knew, Tony was kissing him.
“It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”
Steve laughed, which was a little difficult with Tony’s lips mashed against his own. “You say that now.” He suddenly realized that he hadn’t commented - or even taken a good look - at what Tony had drawn. Feeling a bit like a heel, he pulled away and looked towards Tony’s piece of the wall. “Yours is...” he started, and then paused.
The technical drawing, which looked a bit like a horizontal computer screen, had been expanded on, and now featured blowout details. There was a crowded mess of mathematical equations filling any remaining blank space. Steve had seen drafts of Tony’s projects before, but only in neat black or blue pen on high quality paper. Seeing it in red and gold spray paint on a grungy wall was bizarre, to say the least.
It was like seeing a gourmet meal on a paper plate. Or, Steve reflected, like seeing a polished CEO with grease stains up and down his arms because he didn’t trust anyone else to fine-tune his car.
“It was just to pass time,” Tony said, sounding slightly frustrated. “Of the things I want right now, an art critique is low on the list.”
Steve wasn’t ready to let it go. “It’s very you.” He slid his hands under Tony’s shirt and up his bare back, pulling him into another kiss.
Tony shivered at the touch. “I take it back - I like your art critique technique.” With a groan he moved closer to Steve. “You wouldn’t believe what you’ve been doing to me all night. I didn’t think it would take so long. It’s been torture.”
“Don’t be. Instant gratification is boring.”
Steve smiled. “You are a masochist.”
“Well then, stop enabling me and hurry up.”
Steve didn’t need to be told twice. He scooped up all his supplies and shoved them with little care into the backpack. Once it was over his shoulder Tony grabbed him by the arm and set their pace back to the bikes. It was considerably quicker than the pace there.
As they neared the parking lot, Tony broke the silence. “I have a couple of questions.”
“How confidant are you in your motorcycle driving skills, and how much does sex distract you?”
Steve froze, images of gruesome vehicle accidents spoiling his mood. “God, Tony. Please tell me you aren’t thinking what I think you’re thinking.”
“I’m just saying it’s going to be hard to control myself; me sitting behind you, flush against you, the bike vibrating beneath us...”
“Stop that line of thought right now.”
“This wouldn’t be a problem if we’d taken one of my cars.”
Steve glared. “You have to do everything your way, don’t you?”
Tony actually had the gall to look hurt. “You knew what you were getting into.”
Despite himself, his irritation vanished. “Yes, I did. Okay, new plan - we’ll go home later.” He looked around. “Can you use Extremis to see if there’s a motel within walking distance?”
“I can do one better,” Tony declared, and closed his eyes. Movement in Steve’s peripheral vision caught his attention, and he turned in time to see the United Way building’s double doors swing open. “Automatic doors for wheelchair accessibility combined with electronic locks.” He opened his eyes and grinned at Steve. The lights in the building’s foyer flickered on. “It’s almost like the universe wants us there.”
Steve couldn’t think of an argument to that, so he followed Tony inside.
The interior of the building was nice, if nothing fancy. The doors opened onto a small reception area with a desk, some chairs, and a table on which sat the requisite four month old Reader’s Digest. In the mark of function-over-style mentality, all the doors were labeled with small plastic signs. There was an elevator, and doors labeled ‘stairs’, ‘restroom’, ‘meeting room A’, and ‘office’.
It had what Steve was currently most fond of in a building, though - walls that made it possible to do this to Tony without potentially scarring pedestrians.
“I love discovering new kinks of yours,” he managed as he came up for air from a long, frenzied kiss. “I always think I know them all. Then I find out that something random like graffiti turns you on, and it’s like a pleasant-” he faltered as Tony nipped at his neck, “really pleasant surprise.”
Tony ran his teeth lightly along Steve’s clavicle, evoking a groan. Mouth against skin, Tony said, “Good to know. I was going to get you some books for Christmas, but maybe now I’ll just let you know how I feel about you in a trench coat and fedora.”
Hot, wet tongue followed the teeth’s path, making Steve’s toes curl in his boots. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving,” he agreed, and pulled Tony into the meeting room.
The lights flickered on as they entered. The room was equipped with three long tables pushed together in the middle and about ten chairs surrounding it. “Perfect,” Tony grinned and tugged Steve towards the tables.
Steve planted his feet. “Isn’t there something more comfortable? A couch or something?”
“What’s wrong with this?” Tony asked, arousal and impatience clipping his words. He was still ineffectively trying to tug at Steve, in between bouts of full-body rubbing. “We’ve had table sex before.”
“Yeah, and that’s why I know how hard it is to enjoy the afterglow on a hard surface. Just check, will you?”
Tony sighed and closed his eyes. “Okay, I found the building directory.” It only took a moment for him to sift through the information. “Best bets for a couch... library or break room. Both on third floor.” As soon as he was done speaking, he was back to kissing Steve’s neck while pressing his groin against Steve’s thigh.
“Do you want to take the stairs or elevator?”
Tony made a frustrated noise as he pulled up. “Can you walk up three flights of stairs while I hump your leg?”
Steve considered this. “Elevator it is.”
They made good use of the elevator walls during the short ride. When the doors opened onto the third floor, Steve was finally feeling the same urgency as his partner. Now he was the one tugging them along.
The first door they came across sported a sign which read ‘NAMI library’. Inside, wedged between two large bookcases sat a lumpy gray couch. It was covered in a hectic pattern of circles and triangles and it was, Steve thought, the most beautiful couch he’d ever seen. He shoved Tony backwards onto it and followed him down.
Tony immediately hooked his legs around Steve’s waist and lifted his lower body, pressing their groins together. The pressure against his erection, even through the thick layers of jeans, was delicious. His whole body was buzzing, making everything around him feel irrationally good: the whisker burn from Tony’s kisses, Tony’s shoe heel digging into the small of his back, Tony’s quick, moist exhalations that landed against his cheek.
He looked down into Tony’s half-lidded eyes. “Which pocket?” he asked, grasping at Tony’s coat.
“Left,” Tony answered.
Steve wriggled his hand into the pocket. It wasn’t an ideal angle, and the way Tony’s coat was twisted around him made it hard. But Captain America wasn’t one to be deterred. His determination was rewarded. “Victory,” he muttered as he pulled out a small bottle of lube. “Down,” he added, and Tony unwrapped his legs from Steve and let them stretch out until he was laying mostly supine.
Steve straddled him, knees on either side of Tony’s hips, one stuffed uncomfortably between the couch back and Tony, the other half hanging off the couch cushion. Well, he figured, that was what superhuman balance was for.
Pulling down his jeans and underwear, Steve shivered at the exposure to the cool air. Tony was mirroring his actions beneath him, shimmying his jeans and red boxers down to his knees. As soon as it was free he reached for his cock, but Steve beat him to it. He closed his hand around it, running his thumb up and down the underside. Tony tipped his head back and closed his eyes, making an indecent noise.
It was so arousing to see Tony like this. It didn’t matter that he was still bundled in his coat, with only his head, hands, and hips visible. The sight was still more than enough to light up his nerves with pleasure. He soaked it in, slowly stroking Tony’s cock. With his other hand he flipped open the bottle lid and squeezed some lube onto his fingers. He reached behind himself, sliding his hand down between his ass cheeks and prepared himself, the stretch of tight muscles adding to his buzz.
He had to let his leg on the edge of the couch drop to the floor to find the right leverage. Half standing, half kneeling, he lowered himself onto Tony’s cock. Tony hissed what may have been Steve’s name as he arched into the heat. For a moment they stayed still, pressing against each other with equal force. Then Steve began to rock his hips.
The pleasure from the friction of Tony deep inside of him built up like steam, having nowhere to go. With every movement the pressure grew, and he knew that it was compressing Tony, compressing everything he loved about Tony into something small, something manageable, something enduring: Tony’s warm body, Tony’s mind, Tony’s scientific talent, Tony’s neurosis, Tony’s ideologies, Tony’s lust and Tony’s anger.
He moved harder and faster, wanting something dense enough to hold onto, something to last even when this was over. The muscles in his thighs strained as he grasped Tony’s shoulders and thrust down. The sound Tony made in response was somewhere between a groan and a sob. His hand was shaking as he reached for Steve’s erection and began rough, blissful strokes.
The pressure was too much. He could feel Tony climaxing, but he couldn’t slow down for anything at this point. With messy movements he changed his angle, swinging his leg back up onto the couch and lowering himself onto his elbows. Face to face with the other man, he slid his cock, slick with pre-come, between Tony’s thighs. Tony’s eyes were closed, his lips parted, and his cheeks flush from his orgasm.
Steve brought his knees closer together, which in turn pushed the hot, sweaty skin of Tony’s legs tighter around his cock. That was all he needed, and with several quick thrusts Steve came.
The charcoal gray hoodie looked fantastic on Steve, but as a pillow it really wasn’t that great. Tony discovered this as he drifted awake. The hoodie smelled like Steve, which was a point in its favor, but the fabric was rather scratchy and the zipper was currently digging into the back of his neck.
Tony yawned and shifted his body. From the stiffness in his joints, he estimated that he’d been asleep for at least an hour. He turned his head slowly, pleasantly surprised to find that his neck wasn’t sore, despite the lack of a proper pillow.
Steve was sitting in a chair by a window. Sunlight was streaming in through the blinds, making lines on the opposite wall. Still early morning, then. He was engrossed in a thick book, unaware that Tony was awake and watching him.
“What are you reading?” Tony asked. His voice was scratchy, and he realized he was thirsty.
Steve looked up and smiled, closing the book and placing it on the floor out of Tony’s sight. “Good morning,” he said. “Are you ready to ride back home?”
With a groan Tony shut his eyes again. He hadn’t yet contemplated sitting up, much less riding a motorcycle. “What time is it?”
“Quarter to seven. You wouldn’t happen to know if there are any early morning meetings in this building, would you?”
There were scattered listings of times and dates on the internet, but nothing comprehensive. That reeked of sloppy management, but Tony was too tired feel disapproval. He’d do so later, after he’d had some coffee. “I think we’re safe.” He opened his eyes and gathered the energy to sit up.
Despite his reassurance, Steve hustled Tony off of the ugly couch and out of the library. He even checked his watch periodically as Tony relieved himself and tried to tidy up in the bathroom. Tony didn’t know why Steve had let him sleep so long if he was this nervous about being caught.
The cool morning air outside helped him wake up. Before climbing back on the bike, Tony asked Steve to drive past the wall. He had brought a small, high-end digital camera with him, and he wanted to get some pictures. The effort and talent of Steve’s art was eye-catching, and there was a good chance it would attract more artists to the wall. For all he knew, Steve’s art would be covered within a week.
Of course Steve knew this, and if he wasn’t bothered, then Tony wasn’t bothered by it either. But he’d be damned if he didn’t get some memento of the best night he’d had in ages. All he needed were a couple shots from his camera, and he’d be ready to go home, shower, and get on with his usual life of superheroes, supervillains, and corporate politics.
Steve looked up from the book he was reading at the sound of Peter’s voice. He was sitting in the kitchen, enjoying a bedtime milkshake. He stood up to see what Peter wanted, carefully placing his book a safe distance from his snack. He had an image to uphold, after all: Captain America didn’t return library books with chocolate stains.
“What is it?” he asked as he entered the living room adjacent to the kitchen. Peter and MJ were sitting on an overstuffed love seat in front of the television.
“That wall you were obsessed with a while back is on the news,” MJ answered without taking her eyes off the screen.
She was right. The TV was tuned to the local news program, where an anchorwoman was standing in front of the legal graffiti wall. Behind her, both his and Tony’s work was still visible, despite the few weeks that had passed since their creation.
“... may be the work of a young genius,” the anchorwoman was saying. “The design incorporates Stark Industry hologram technology into a graphic tablet, allowing digital artists new virtual mediums and a new level of detail and sensitivity in their digital art. Because the designs were painted anonymously, it remains to be seen who might use - and perhaps profit from - this innovation.”
The camera cut to a close up of Tony’s scribbles, which still just looked like a horizontal computer screen to Steve.
“We reached Tony Stark for comment on the mysterious design plans.”
There was a shot of Tony, standing next to his limo and wearing an expression of surprised amusement. “In fact, I have seen it. It’s obviously a very rudimentary and flawed plan, something someone might dream up while their mind is elsewhere. I don’t envy whoever tries to actually build it.
“Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the actual art on that wall.”
The camera cut back to the anchorwoman, now standing beside Steve’s work. “This masterpiece, which seems to have been painted the same night, is suspected to be by the same artist.”
The camera pulled back, nicely framing the noir tableau. A man stood in the shadows, his trench coat caught in a breeze, while in a doorway painted slightly behind him stood a classic femme fatale in a red, old-fashioned dress.
Pulling back a little more, the news piece ended on a shot of the whole wall. The two predominant pieces of graffiti looked extremely bizarre next to each other.
“Huh,” said Peter.
Steve grinned. He was going to have so much fun teasing Tony about this tonight. The way this was turning out, supporting the community art wall had been a fantastic idea.