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Drowning Out The Silence

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For the first time since what Tony liked to call ‘Day X’, the communal area of Avengers Tower was completely encased in silence. There was no agitated pitter-patter of feet running up and down the stairs. No angry shouts from the hallways. No tensed sighs whenever someone tossed Steve a worried glance over dinner table. No one watching their every word on what was or wasn’t appropriate to say about the return of one James Buchanan Barnes.

There was nothing but silence.

Tony didn’t even blame the others for needing some time off. The last week had taken its toll on all of them and Clint had all but fled the tower when Coulson asked him to help with some non-SHIELD mission in Russia. Tony didn’t know where Jane and Thor had gone off to, but they were likely banging somewhere. Bruce and Natasha had set up camp in the tower’s medical floors with Bucky, and Steve—sulking, angry, stubborn Steve—was hiding away in his rooms.

It was just Steve and Tony now, and the tension between them, if possible, had only thickened since the others left. They’d shared very few words since Day X. Day X being the day when Bucky had suddenly jumped right into the middle of their living room, collapsing on the floor and begging them for help. He’d begged—but he’d also screamed every time Steve so much as tried to come near him; hadn’t even so much as looked at him. It had been Natasha he’d leaned into, and Natasha’s shoulder he’d started to cry on. When asked directly, he’d said it couldn’t possibly be Steve helping him. Not now. Not ever.

The words had killed Steve. After months of searching, he’d finally had his best friend back and was now denied the right to actually help him get through the hell that was awaiting him. Tony knew—it was shame and guilt that made Bucky say these things, and of course he’d come around eventually, but Steve had refused to be reasoned with.

The week following Day X had been… long and excruciating. Steve was immersed with heartache Tony hadn’t anticipated and hurt that he’d foolishly thought he was strong enough to handle. He’d thought that… even if it’d take a while, that he would manage to help Steve.

He’d been wrong.

He had miscalculated the extent of Steve’s pain. He hadn’t thought it possible that Steve could break like that, but the desperation over seeing his best friend hurt had singed his mind and Bucky’s screams that day lingered with him in a way Tony hadn’t foreseen.

Every time he tried to talk to Steve—every time anyone tried to talk to Steve—they were met with harsh words and slammed doors. Every inch of Steve’s body visibly etched with pain. And it was obvious that he was in too deep to rein himself in. He was shouting and grumping his way through the bad days, and was sullen and passive-aggressive on the good ones. And Tony? For once in his life, he was at a complete loss for what to do.

Steve wouldn’t let Tony near him, and every gentle attempt at comforting him had led to a shouting match that rivaled their first one on the Hellicarrier. It was hard to stomach the idea that Steve would distance himself from him like that, because before Day X—there had been a moment. Albeit short-lived and fragile, it had been there. He and Steve had been down in the gym, doing their usual sparring-routine, and of course, Tony had inevitably ended up with his back on the floor, Steve leaning over him with a shit-eating grin.

“Uncle?” Steve had asked, and grabbed for both of Tony’s wrists, pinning them above his head.

Tony had rolled his eyes. “Yeah, fine, whatever.”

But Steve hadn’t stood up like he usually did. He’d lingered, and after a few seconds, his thumb had brushed over Tony’s cheek and their eyes had locked with an undeniable intent.

And Tony remembered so clearly that Steve had been about to say something—something that might’ve changed everything—but the next second, JARVIS’ voice had alerted them to Bucky’s presence in the living room, and that had been it.

They’d had a moment. And now it was gone.

However, Tony couldn’t help thinking about it. And in hindsight, his behavior towards Steve had always been kind of single-minded. Intentional or not, he’d done everything to earn a friendship with Steve. To be the sort of man Steve would like to be around. The sort of man he could respect. And amazingly, he hadn’t even needed to change for that. Steve and him, they’d just sort of… clicked. And they’d been close. So damn close. Steve understood him, he smiled at him like he was precious and Tony wanted…

God, he just wanted.

Thus, he dreamed of Steve every night. Craving the one thing he’d been so close to, and could not have. And he missed Steve. He missed the kindness in his eyes. He missed talking to him. He missed the way they were so in sync with each other. He missed Steve so much his insides ached.

He knew of course, that any touch Steve had allowed so far might’ve meant nothing. There was every chance that the moment in the gym had just been that—a moment, and nothing else. Still—lying on the couch, and staring at the ceiling as though he could see through floors—Tony burned with the need to know.

There couldn’t be any harm, he supposed, in asking Steve if he wanted to eat something. Just a meal between friends, as it was before, like those days that seemed so uncomplicated in retrospect. Tony might not be the company Steve yearned for right now, but he surely wouldn’t deny it if Tony asked nicely. Dinner would still be tensed and awkward, but not seeing Steve was worse.

Tony threw his bare feet over the edge of the couch, taking a deep breath. The worst Steve could do was say no. For whatever reason, repeating the mantra to himself didn’t help at all. And when he reached the door to Steve’s floor only to find it vacant, his nerves all but flew out of the window. He stepped over the threshold, eyes scanning the empty room.

He was about to open his mouth, when—

“Sir?” JARVIS asked. “You asked me to inform you when Captain Rogers spent an above-average amount of time on the fitness floor. He has now crossed the three point five hour mark.”

Tony sighed, leaning his head against the door. “How many bags?”

“Number seven is currently at a stable twenty-eight percent chance to tear on the next punch, Sir,” JARVIS replied.

Tony hummed, and made his way to the elevators. “Don’t alert him.”

“Sir—”

“Nope, I don’t care about your privacy issues, I need to see this.”

“Very well, Sir,” JARVIS replied, and there was an undertone to his voice Tony couldn’t quite put a finger on. Disapproval he’d understand, but this almost sounded like gloating, and it wasn’t until Tony set a first foot on the gym floor that he realized his mistake—and what JARVIS had meant to tell him.

The light was still on, the punching bag still swinging lightly in the middle of the room, but Steve wasn’t there. Instead, the air was thick with steam and scented with the hint of Steve’s usual shampoo.

Oh God, he was in the showers. Tony willed his eyes shut and fought off a shudder. Just thinking about Steve in the showers opened the door to a thousand fantasies that made his blood run south with an embarrassing speed. The door to the showers was open a sliver—a low light falling into the gym. It wasn’t hard to imagine what lay beyond that threshold, and his overactive mind wasted no time in filling the gaps. Steve naked. Steve wet. Steve standing beneath the showerhead, hot water raining down on him and his perfect flushed skin.

If he were a better man, he’d turn around now. Leave the room; return to the communal floor and wait for Steve.

Before his mind could catch up with his legs, Tony was already moving forward. God, he couldn’t stop if he wanted to. He expelled a ragged breath, his eyes zeroing on the sliver in the doorway. He had kind of expected Steve to notice his presence immediately—being a super soldier and all—and didn’t know whether to be relieved or not when he didn’t.

Steve was standing underneath the shower exactly as Tony had pictured it, though reality was so much better than his imagination. He was so gorgeous—so breathtakingly gorgeous. His back was to him, his ass a perfect round curve, and the wide, muscled shoulders slightly bowed backwards.

Tony stayed right where he was, behind the door, and slowly started to rub his palm against his crotch. There had been no hope for him from the start. None whatsoever.

Steve turned sideways, his eyes firmly closed. He massaged shampoo into his hair, and Tony had a moment to acknowledge the light cuts and welts on his knuckles, before Steve bowed his head and let clear water wash it all away. Then, his left hand pressed against the wet tiles in front of him and he spread his legs lightly. And oh God—someone clearly hated Tony’s guts—because now, Steve’s right hand began a slow slide down his body. He was slowly curling his fingers around his cock, and Tony hadn’t yet dared to glimpse at it, but now that he had, he couldn’t possibly look away.

Ever.

Again.

Watching Steve tease his cock until it was fully hard—while wishing it was his own hand stroking him, or better yet, his mouth wrapped around it—it was too much. Jesus, Tony was caught between full perversion and self-loathing. He knew, rationally, that he needed to give Steve privacy—that he should just make a run for the elevator, but his heart wasn’t in it. And his heart, as always, won the battle. He couldn’t move away from this. Not when this might be his only chance of witnessing the sight of Steve being aroused. He needed to absorb it all. The way Steve’s perfect mouth parted as small nearly soundless moans touched the air. The way his golden skin was flushed with need. The way he threw his head back with a groan on a particularly good stroke.

Oh God. Tony didn’t know when he’d opened the zipper of his pants, or how long he’d been pumping himself. His eyes flickered alternately from Steve’s face to his bubble-laced cock. Every moan that rolled off Steve’s lips drowned out the ones Tony couldn’t hold back. They were in sync in easy seconds—as though they’d done this numerous times. And for the waves of ecstasy crashing over Steve’s face, for the throaty sounds that clawed at his throat, Tony could almost believe he was performing for him. That he knew Tony was there and he was stroking his cock because he wanted him to watch.

“Christ,” Steve gasped, his forehead pressing against the tiles in front of him as he arched into his hand.

Simultaneously, Tony tightened the grip on his cock. He wished the world would stop long enough for him to memorize this moment from every angle. Because once he’d come, everything would return to the way it was before—to that horrible state of distance between them. And once Tony’s senses returned, shame and horror would set in. He had no right to see this. God, he had no right at all. Standing here, jerking at his cock so hard it’d be a wonder if he got any use out of the thing ever again—and spying on a moment of pure intimacy. Steve was his friend, and he had given him so much, and Tony, as the pervert he was, stole the rest from him.

Steve inhaled sharply, his mouth opening in a silent cry. His brow was furrowed, and the jerks of his arm were getting faster. Water swirled and splashed. The muscles in his shoulders twitched under the weight of his movements. He was beautiful—and so far from Tony that they might as well have been separated by the seventy years it had taken Steve to get here.

That was until Steve moaned something that had Tony stop in his tracks.

“Yes,” Steve gasped. “Oh, Tony…”

Tony’s eyes widened. He couldn’t have said… he couldn’t have…

Tony…”

Tony pressed his eyes closed. God, this was unfair. This was so fucking unfair. The idea that Steve touched himself while thinking of him was beyond anything he’d ever thought possible.

“Oh God,” Steve groaned again, his voice cracking on the last word. He pressed his whole body against the wall, his hips were bucking madly, and then—oh God—thick ropes of come flew against the tiles alongside a deep grunt of completion. Steve gasped and tossed his head back again, pulling at his cock until it was going soft. “To—”

His name was cut off as an involuntary drawn-out moan slipped through Tony’s lips and was now echoing through the vast space between them. Tony went rigid. And sure enough, when he looked up, Steve’s eyes were now fixed on his shadow, locked on the thin outline of him.

“Fuck,” Tony gasped, stumbling back in horror. “Oh fuck.”

“Tony?”

Fuck.” He couldn’t move away fast enough. His vision was blurred and with a wince and shaking fingers he tucked his erection back inside his pants. He jerked the zipper up so fast that it was a wonder it didn’t break.

The door to the shower flew open the next second, and then Steve was there. Right in front of him. He was still naked, his hair wet and sticking to his forehead. “Tony, wait—”

“Fuck,” Tony said again, and tried to move away. This was going to be bad. “I know how it looks—”

“No, you really don’t.”

Tony shook his head with a self-deprecating laugh. God, he was such a fuck-up. It’d serve him right if Steve decided to never talk to him again. There was absolutely no excuse for what he’d done. “I just came down here to see if you wanted to eat something,” he said, gaze fixed on the floor. “Fuck, I know it’s not enough, but I’m sorry. I heard you and I should’ve left. I just miss y—” He cut himself off, shaking his head. Better stop right then and there—no sense in digging his grave any deeper.

Steve’s answering silence was almost worse than the screams of the past couple of days, but then, in a blink, everything changed. Everything.

Steve whispered his name and stepped forward. He pressed his fingers under Tony’s chin and slowly coaxed his face upward. And Tony did not—could not—deny him. And the look on Steve’s face, well, it certainly wasn’t what Tony had expected. There was no repulsion, no hatred. Instead, Steve smiled at him in a way that was…

Wait a second.

Before he could finish that thought, Steve had closed the gap between them. He cupped Tony’s face, stroking his goatee, and slowly pressed their lips together. And God, his mouth was soft and still wet from the shower. His hands slid up Tony’s arms, palming his cheeks as they moved against each other. Tony formed mumbled questions between them, but Steve refused to release him. Instead, he just hummed into the kiss, exploring Tony’s mouth with gentle movements. God, Tony couldn’t form a rational thought. All he knew with certainty was that the days of ache were over. Steve was in his arms, and he wasn’t fighting him anymore. For the first time since Bucky had returned, he found some measure of calmness.

Especially when Steve broke away to collect a few short breaths, then immediately dove in for seconds, instead of backing away. A dam broke and Tony allowed himself, ever so briefly, to hope.

“Well,” Tony murmured dazedly, after Steve leaned back a fraction. “I think it’s safe to say that I have no idea what’s happening here.”

Steve smiled, as he pressed their foreheads together. “I’m sorry,” he said.

Tony blinked, shaking his head. “You’re sorry,” he stated, and furrowed his brows. “I just went all Peeping Tom on you, and you’re sorry.”

Something that looked a lot like guilt flashed across Steve’s face. “I needed to know, Tony, I needed to be sure that—”

It clicked, then. “You knew I was there,” Tony said, his tone abrupt, and he took a deep breath to tell Steve exactly what he thought about that when—

“I needed to know if I’d misread things, and I just—”

“What? Decided to make me feel like the biggest pervert on earth? You could’ve just asked me!”

Steve exhaled and offered a shaky, self-consciously smile. “No, I couldn’t,” he said softly, his face becoming dreadfully serious.

“Steve…”

“I tried, all right? I know my behavior was terrible, and I’m sorry, but I couldn’t…” He stopped himself, rethinking his words. “I tried to talk to you, about us, and about Bucky, and I got so angry with myself every time I couldn’t find the right words that I just… yelled at you, and I’m sorry, Tony. I tried, and it just got so much worse every time.”

Tony nodded and was quiet for a minute. “I just wanted to help you.”

Steve cupped his face again, caressing his cheek. “I know. I knew. I just…” He breathed a low laugh. “How’d you always put it? I couldn’t get my head out of my ass.”

Tony smiled in spite of himself. “You hate it when I tell you that.”

“Figures that the one time that I’d actually need it is the time you stop doing it,” Steve said. Then, he leaned forward to kiss him again, and God, Tony tried not to groan at how wonderful his lips felt against him.

Steve shook his head, and when they parted, his mouth broadened into a hopeful smile. Tony tried to ignore the way his heart pounded just a little faster, but he couldn’t. Not when Steve was undressing him with his eyes like that. “I’m sorry I tricked you,” he murmured in a low voice, before grabbing for Tony’s tee and—without further ado—drawing it over his head. He kissed him again, pressing their naked chests together, and the taste of him made every inch of Tony ache with yearning. His mind went blank with near unbearable shades of hope. “I missed you so much,” Steve mumbled. “I was afraid that you wouldn’t want me anymore after everything I’ve thrown at you and… the idea that I’ve messed up my only chance to be with you—”

“You haven’t,” Tony said, before jerking Steve back to him and consuming him in a fierce kiss. In a blink, Steve’s hands linked around Tony’s waist, and just like that, the world around them vanished. This time their kiss wasn’t soft—it burned. Steve drank him in as though he’d been the one starving for him—as though the distance between them had been driving him crazy.

God, Tony couldn’t think straight anymore. He was only barely aware that Steve was dragging him back into the shower room, but he followed nevertheless. It seemed he was hopeless to do anything but follow Steve.

“Can I have you?” he murmured against Tony’s mouth. “Tell me you’ve thought about this.”

Tony swallowed, hard. “We’ve barely talked. We probably shouldn’t just—”

Determination crossed Steve’s eyes. “Oh, I think we should.”

“I—” Tony stopped there, because he sure as hell was not going to argue Steve out of having sex with him. “Yeah, yeah… okay, we should. Definitely should. I just… Maybe we should move this to my room, I don’t have anything—”

“I do,” Steve interrupted. He moved them further into the room, and stopped at one of the shower-shelves. Without any kind of hesitation, he grabbed for one of the tubes standing there, making Tony shake his head with a disbelieving chuckle.

“I cannot believe you. You actually planned for this.”

Something almost devious flashed across Steve’s face. “They don’t call me a master strategist for nothing.”

Tony snorted, his fingers gently tunneling through Steve’s hair, his teeth nipping at his lips. Every corner of his body was enveloped in happiness. “Been that sure that I’d be putting out, were you?”

Steve smiled and pushed him against the next wall. “A man can hope, can’t he? And speaking of which…” He looked down on Tony’s crotch. “That looks kinda painful. Something rile you up?”

Tony barked a laugh at that. “Oh, now you’re just being sassy.”

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Steve said and pressed his warm, naked body against Tony. He sucked on his tongue like a man starved and before Tony realized what was happening, he had tugged at Tony’s fly and shoved both pants and boxers down in one go.

“You might wanna hold onto my shoulders for this.”

“Promises, promises,” Tony gasped, and in a blink, Steve had his hands under his armpits, pushing him upwards. Tony’s feet slipped out of his pants, and the next thing he knew, his naked thighs were around Steve’s waist, and his back pressed against the cold wall. He shivered, but only for a second, until Steve turned at the faucet and a low stream of warm water rained down on them. Their mouths were ravaging each other with hunger that had been beyond Tony so far. Steve’s tongue had a mind to lead, and Tony was hopeless to offer anything but complete surrender.

“Touch me,” he mumbled, thrusting against Steve with hard motions. Steve’s left arm wrapped fully around his waist, and then, holding him up as two fingers started to caress the crack of Tony’s ass only seconds later. Steve took several delicious seconds, rubbing a fingertip along the rim and teasing the skin until Tony’s body was wound so tight it was a wonder he hadn’t yet popped.

“Come on,” Tony grunted and kissed him, demanding everything at once. Not because he thought this would vanish once it was over; because he knew it wouldn’t. The affection he felt rolling through Steve’s body couldn’t be fleeting; it was too intense. And Tony released a long, strangled moan, when Steve finally started to push a finger into him with a deep, steady motion. His right hand was braced at the back of Steve’s neck and wove through his hair. His lips pressed a kiss against the little birthmark next to his nose while his legs tightened around him. “God, Steve, I’ve thought about this so much.” The words were cheap compared to what he wanted to say. What he couldn’t convey simply by speaking.

A shaky smile touched Steve’s face and his lips found his, the muscles in his arm contracting as he pushed the finger in and out again. “Me too,” he whispered. “All the time.”

He needed to savor everything. The way Steve arched his pelvis against him with need, fighting to give him as much pleasure as possible. His eyes were wide and his heart was open, and he realized then, that the whole of Steve belonged to him now.

“Oh fuck,” Tony moaned, arching against the wall, when Steve pressed another finger into him. And he couldn’t hold still any longer. Taking leverage with his thighs around Steve’s hip, Tony pushed upwards slightly, before shoving down. The start of something slow and gentle was shoved aside in the need of more. His plans never lasted, anyway. Not when Steve was moaning like that—needy, and honest, and carefree—and pressing his hardening cock against Tony’s.

He was so fucking glorious and he didn’t even know it.

Being rocked against the wall was far from comfortable. It was hard and cold, despite the warm water dribbling down on them. It didn’t matter, though. Nothing mattered but this. After such a long time of fantasizing about him, after the miserable week what lay behind them, watching Steve’s eyes grow wide with need meshed a world of endless fantasy with the hard lines of reality. And with this—fantasy couldn’t even hope to compare.

The fingers in his ass parted, stretching him wide, until another was shoved in, moving in quick thrusts. Tony choked back a sob, bucking wildly against him. He felt slick and sensitive, and every time Steve pushed his digits back into him, every time he caressed his insides, Tony’s body cried out in strained pleasure. It was too fucking much. Steve was going to send him over the edge before they’d even started.

“Okay?” Steve asked and God, his voice was wrecked.

Tony nodded in desperation, trying futilely to ignore the hot rush in his cock. Fuck, he was so close, and he felt his eyes water with the strain. “You’ll want to hurry, though.”

Steve’s body pushed him flush against the wall as he consumed him in a hot, searing kiss. He poured a moan into his mouth and his free hand clamped tight around the base of Tony’s cock, effectively keeping his orgasm at bay. “Just a little bit more,” he said, his voice low but almost matter-of-fact, as if it was completely out of question that Tony wouldn’t do this for him.

“Yeah, well,” Tony breathed with a snort, “you can say that. Already got your rocks off.”

Steve just laughed, the bastard. “You were free to join me,” he whispered and the emotions in his voice made Tony feel lightheaded. And then, Steve removed his fingers and Tony looked down just in time to see his cock poised and ready to push inside his body.

Steve’s name on his lips was only a whisper as he sank into him, the hard length of him rubbing his soaked insides, burying himself deeper, spreading Tony so wide he thought for a moment he would rip him down the middle—and were it not for the pleasure numbing his mind and attacking every vital nerve in his body, he was sure he would be in pain.

“Oh God,” Tony moaned with a low disbelieving chuckle. He felt deliriously close to coming just from the penetration. He clutched at the back of Steve’s head as his own fell helplessly against the wall.

Steve mumbled incoherent words against Tony’s neck. Only after he was seated fully inside Tony, he leaned back a little to look at him. “Never thought it’d be like this.”

Tony liked to believe he would have said something moderately significant to that, but the next second, Steve was moving out of him again. It was a slow, tortuous slide, and Tony’s jaw fell slack as a long, wordless cry fell through his lips. It didn’t help when Steve’s mouth began peppering soothing kisses along his collarbone, nor did it help when his teeth scraped hotly against his throat.

“Oh fuck,” Tony grunted, digging his fingers into the flesh of Steve’s shoulders.

“You okay?” Steve asked, as he pressed his brow back to Tony’s.

“Yeah. Love it,” he gasped, choking a sob as Steve’s thrusts gained momentum. “I’m just so fucking close.”

There was the distant sensation of rocking—and then, the slams of Tony’s body hitting the hard tile behind him before falling back against an equally firm chest. Jesus, there was nothing but Steve—nothing but the raw feel of him plunging into Tony. It likely wasn’t as fast as it felt, or even as hard, but his back felt stiff already and his legs were sore simply from their position around Steve’s waist, and he loved every second.

Steve groaned, and Tony could feel his whole body trembling. His thrusts grew anxious, feverish, and he was pushing into Tony with pure intent, now. The slippery slide of him drove Tony into some unknown form of insanity, his ass tightening and grasping him so hard the moans Steve pressed against Tony’s neck were almost riddled with pain. Suddenly, Steve’s fingers at Tony’s cock were moving, rubbing him fast but softly. Steve leaned back a little, his hungry eyes focusing on Tony. “Let go,” Steve panted, buried to the hilt, his brow resting against Tony’s. “I’ve got you.”

Tony’s eyes watered, his hands linking behind Steve’s neck. This was a snapshot. A moment in time. And it was wholly theirs.

“Steve…”

“I love you,” Steve said, smiling. “Come on, let’s go together.” His hand was still rubbing over his cock, but he didn’t look away once while Tony slowly dissolved. He tensed and felt himself tighten around Steve. And then he was gone. Coming so hard he pulled Steve right along with him.

Long minutes later, they were sitting on the floor, Tony seated in Steve’s lap, his thighs still around his waist, and Steve’s back to the wall. Their wet, pliant bodies were pressed together, while Steve was running his hands over Tony’s back, kneading the aching muscles. Warm water rained upon them, as they kissed unhurriedly.

“Can’t believe we just did that,” Tony murmured against his lips. “Can’t believe Captain America tricked me into getting fucked in the team shower.”

Steve chuckled, the length of his soft cock still rubbing a tantalizing path over the crack of Tony’s ass. “It got through to you, didn’t it?”

Tony snorted, but nodded nevertheless. “It did,” he said and glanced up at Steve. “Love you, too.”

“I know,” Steve whispered and caressed Tony’s face with his thumb, slowly outlining the form of his goatee.

Tony dropped a kiss to the finger. God, he’d never get tired of the way Steve’s skin tasted. He studied him for a moment, before saying, “Bucky will come around, eventually. You just need to give him some time.”

Steve just looked at him for a minute, then blinked and sighed and averted his eyes to the nonexistent space between them. “Yeah,” he said eventually, and looked up again. “Thank you. It’s been a long time since I’ve needed… it’s been a long time since anyone really worried over me like that. And I didn’t exactly make it easy for you.”

Tony smiled. “No you really didn’t.” He exhaled slowly and wriggled on Steve’s lap with a little grin. “How about we move this upstairs? I’m not sure things can actually look any better in the morning, but I think we could both use some rest. I’ll tuck you in, if you ask nicely.”

“What?” Steve asked, his eyes shining with amusement.

“If you ask really nicely, I’ll even give you a bedtime blowjob.”

Steve chuckled softly, and leaned forward to nip at Tony’s lips. “Sounds good to me.”

Tony nodded, and with an embarrassingly long groan, he let Steve pull him to his feet. Together, they dried off, wrapped themselves in towels, and made their way to the elevator. It certainly hadn’t been the way he’d expected for them to get over their stalemate, but he would never question it. Not with Steve in his arms.

And now, at last, the silence was over.