Howard didn't want to be in Brooklyn opening a recreation center for underprivileged kids. He didn’t have anything against underprivileged kids, nor did he have anything against helping them. He would just rather do it from afar. With a donation or maybe a gala. In Manhattan.
But Tony asked him to do this and, as Obi so helpfully reminded him, Tony never asked for anything from Howard. Not since he and Maria divorced when Tony was five—like it was his fault she found her One True Dom.
So he built the damn rec center, called in a few favors for equipment and supplies, and had his people plan the opening, with ribbon cutting and cake and the fucking press.
And he did it. He made the speech, cut the ribbon, took some pictures with Tony and some of the neighborhood kids. Wasn’t that enough? Why was he being forced to drink lukewarm punch and eat disgustingly sweet cake?
Fuck, he couldn’t do this; he had two days to finish a prototype for the military brass and he still had a week's worth of work to do on it. He tossed the cup and plate into a garbage can and began looking for an exit. Ah, there. He headed straight for it, dodging anyone he thought might try to stop him.
He almost made it, he almost fucking made it, when he heard Tony calling to him.
"Dad! Dad, wait! I want you to meet someone."
Howard stopped, which was a rookie mistake, but Tony was his kid and he had *promised* Obi he would be nice.
"Dad, I want you to meet my friend Steve!"
Tony touched his arm: Howard pasted a grin on his face and turned. He locked gazes with the bluest eyes he'd ever seen and—
Howard gasped, his eyes widening as a bolt of hot recognition ran through his body. That wasn't right, he thought, it couldn't be right because he'd never met Steve before. But there it was. His mouth went dry, his pulse raced, and his knees weakened with the sudden urge to kneel.
Steve took a step forward and gripped Howard by the upper arms. He growled softly. "Mine," he said. "You're mine."
And oh, oh, yes. That's what it was. That's what was right. Before he could respond, Steve yanked him close and kissed him. And he… he kissed back, opening his mouth to Steve's tongue, ignoring the sudden absence of conversation in the room and the click of photography.
So good, this was so good. He belonged here, right here in Steve's arms, where it was safe and warm. He arched against Steve's body, making a soft needy sound when Steve cupped his ass and squeezed.
"Wanna fuck you, Howard," Steve panted into his mouth. "Gonna fuck you."
"Please," he said. He'd never… but the idea of Steve penetrating him, filling him, almost made him come in his pants. Steve's hands went to Howard's belt buckle, but before they could begin to undress, Howard was wrenched away.
Howard keened softly, struggling to get away. Why… why were they doing this?
They pulled him into an office and shoved him back on a chair. "Stay," someone said, but Howard didn't want to stay. He wanted Steve, he *needed* Steve.
"Please," he said. "Please, I need to get back to him. I need him."
"Dad, calm down." Tony grabbed his hands. "I called Obi, he's coming right over and someone's contacted the paramedics."
"I don't need Obi and I don't need the paramedics, Tony! I need Steve. Please." He squeezed Tony's hands. "Let me see him. Just for a minute."
Tony just shook his head.
Howard doubled over; it hurt. God, it felt like fire was pouring through his veins. If Steve were with him, it wouldn't hurt.
Why were they doing this?
"Easy, Mr. Stark. This will help," the paramedic said, sliding a needle into his arm. "Take a deep breath. That's it. One more."
Howard still felt feverish and his clothes scratched where it touched his skin, but his mind was clear, mostly clear. He still wanted Steve, wanted him like air, but he could think. He could reason. He blinked and looked over to where Obi and Tony were conversing quietly.
"When." His voice was hoarse, so he cleared his throat and tried again. "When did you get here?"
"A few minutes before the paramedic. Goddamn it, Howard, you're a fucking sub! You didn't think I should know about this?"
Howard ran a shaky hand through his hair as the implications crowded his mind. "How the hell was I supposed to tell you, Obi? I didn't know myself! Fuck, fuck, we're screwed! I'm screwed!" Everything he worked for, everything he built was gone, it didn't belong to him anymore. Subs couldn't own property, they couldn't own anything.
He looked at Obi. "What do you mean?"
"I mean your Dom is sixteen years old, Howard. Imprint or not, he can't claim you as his submissive until he's eighteen. And until you're claimed, you're still a null. Tony here says that Stevie's birthday is after his, so we've got time to put all your assets in Tony's name." Obi raised an eyebrow. "Just don’t do anything overtly submissive."
Howard gasped softly as the image of him kneeling at Steve's feet reemerged.
"Dad," Tony said, touching him gently on the shoulder. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, yeah of course." Howard rubbed his hand together. "Can I see him? Can I see Steve?" He sounded eager, even to his own ears. Eager little submissive ready to spread his legs for his Dominant; his body flushed at the thought.
"I don’t think that's a good idea." Tony exchanged a look with Obi.
"Please? It hurts and I just want to see him. That's all." He grabbed Tony's wrist. "Just for a few minutes."
"No, Dad, I'm sorry. I think you just need to sit here and let the suppression drugs take effect."
"I don’t need the goddamn suppression drugs!" His voice shook, his whole body shook. "I need Steve! I *need* him."
"I know, Dad. I know."
Howard found out later that they had to sedate Steve.
That evening he lay in bed, staring at his wall, listening to the sound of the house creak, when his cellphone rang. He glanced at the display and saw that it was Maria. Before he could change his mind, he picked it up and answered.
"What do you want?"
"Congratulations, I hear you just had a baby boy! Or, more specifically, he had you," she said, cheerfully.
"Fuck you. Where's your Dom? Should you be off your leash?"
"He's at work. Where's yours? Oh, don't tell me, his mom won't let him out this late on a school night."
"Ha, ha, very funny." He rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Seriously, what do you want?"
"I wanted to see how you were doing. I remember how intense it was finding Robert and I was allowed to touch him, be with him. How are you holding up?"
"I'm fine," he said.
"You don’t sound fine."
"I'm a sub, Maria. A sub with a sixteen year old Dom. How I am supposed to feel?"
"It gets better."
"When?" he asked.
"When you see him again. I promise." She continued, cheerfully, "At least now we know why you were such a crappy Dominant."
He laughed weakly. "Screw you, I was amazing."
"You keep telling yourself that, baby. You keep telling yourself that."
He worked from home the next few days following the incident. It was better that way: pictures of his and Steve's meeting were plastered all over the news and the Internet. Stark Industries stock plummeted thirty points.
Howard felt hollowed out and fragile, flashes of heat and need catching him unaware at the most inopportune moments. He was told they would fade as the imprinting strengthened. Of course, he'd have to see Steve in order for that to happen.
He wanted that desperately, with an ache that left him panting and curled over. But the law stated that when one of an imprinted couple was underage, there could be no contact between said couple without a state sanctioned Dominant present.
Howard rubbed his eyes, fighting the urge to take a car and find Steve. He could do it, he had the money and resources to do it.
The door to his workshop opened and Jarvis walked in carrying a glass of water and his suppression pills.
"Thank you," he said, his throat raspy, and he took the items from Jarvis.
"Sir," Jarvis replied, waiting for Howard to hand him the empty glass. When he did, Jarvis turned to walk away.
"Did you know?" he couldn’t help but ask. "Did you know I was a submissive?"
Jarvis turned slowly and looked at him. "No, sir. You always read as a potential Dominant to me."
"And now?" He clutched the edge of the desk; Jarvis was a Dom, a Dom who had lost a sub.
"You might be able to pass for a Dominant, sir, once your bond strengthens. Until then you…" Jarvis's nostrils flared. "There's no hiding you’re a submissive and an unclaimed one at that."
He swallowed hard against the implication that he was unclaimed. "Thank you, Jarvis. That'll be all."
Jarvis's gaze raked over him, hot and possessive, and a burst of anger made Howard straighten and lift his chin defiantly. "Yes, sir," Jarvis said.
He received a summons to report to the local office of the Department of Imprinting and Bonding for his first meeting with Steve a few days later.
"Tell me about Steve," he said to Tony at dinner. "What's he like?"
Tony looked up from his plate, a small smile on his face. "You held out a lot longer than Steve. He called me as soon as the sedation wore off."
"Really?" He smiled at that, desire curling in his belly.
"Yes," Tony rolled his eyes and stabbed at a spear of asparagus. "There's not much to tell, really. He's sixteen and goes to PS 107 in Brooklyn. His dad died when he was just a little kid, so his mom brought him up herself."
"His mother's a Dom?"
"Naw, but neither of his parents had any living relatives left, and since he read as submissive, they decided to leave him with her instead of trying to place him with family with a Dom." Tony shrugged. "It's weird how both of you got read wrong."
'Yeah, well, pre-imprint behavior is only an indicator of future alignment in about 95% of all cases."
Tony lifted his water glass. "Well, congrats, Dad. You and Steve are part of the 5% deviation from the norm."
"Mmm." Howard poked listlessly at his steak. "So he was brought up by his mom."
"Yup. She's a nurse, you know, and part of the Submissive Rights movement. Has been for years now. Steve's following in her footsteps."
Howard snorted softly. "They're collar burners?"
"Equal rights for all and the private is not public. Rah, rah, rah!" Tony shook imaginary pom-poms. "We might want to look into pouring some private funds into their cause."
"Because I'm submissive my political views should suddenly shift?"
"Maybe. Wouldn't it be nice if you didn't have to give up *everything* because of your alignment? Besides, what happens if I wind up being submissive, too?"
"You're not a sub, Tony."
Tony waved his fork in the air. "You don't know that."
"First born Starks are never subs," he said, then he stopped and set down his fork because that wasn't true anymore now, was it?
"Grandpa have another kid I don't know about?" Tony raised an eyebrow.
Howard pushed away his plate, his stomach churning. Suddenly, he wasn't hungry anymore.
Howard sat in his office, staring intently at the papers in front of him, his hands pressed firmly against the top of the desk as if to steady him. He tried not to think about the men and women gathering in the boardroom, about how they'd been scheming to get him ousted as CEO.
The door opened and he looked up to see Obi slip into the room.
"You ready for this, Howard?" Obi asked, perching himself on Howard's desk.
Was he? He didn't know. He didn’t say that though. He smiled, instead. "I was born ready."
Obi tilted his head, frowning slightly. "You're scared."
"I am not scared."
"You are." Obi put his hand on Howard's in a strangely possessive gesture.
Howard jerked his hand away; he was getting pretty damn sick of people doing that. "I don't need your fucking reassurance, Obadiah. Contrary to popular belief, I didn't get my goddamn spine removed."
Obi smiled, slow and predatory. "Not the timid little submissive looking for the big brave Dom to save him?"
He bit back his first response, which was to state that Obi wasn't his Dom. "I can save myself."
Obi spread his hands. "Then by all means, my boy, save yourself."
It was easier than Howard thought it would be. He stood in front of the Board of Directors, his heart hammering in his chest, his palms sweating, as he envisioned his life's work slipping through his fingers. He fumbled through the papers in his hands, his voice uneven.
Off-balanced in a way he had never been before.
Then Mathews, the degenerate fucker who made sure that every secretary he had was young, blonde, and submissive so he could harass them with impunity, snorted and rolled his eyes. "Don't you think you've wasted enough of our time, sweetheart?"
Howard paused and blinked. "Sweetheart?" he repeated softly. Sweetheart? As if he hadn't single-handedly brought the company back from the brink of bankruptcy fifteen years ago. As if he wasn’t the reason the U.S. military was falling all over themselves for Stark Industries' weapons. As if he wasn't the reason Roxxon was shitting themselves when *his* company announced they were joining the energy race.
He felt a calm settle over him and he smiled at Mathews until the man flinched.
Howard sat on the lumpy beige couch in one of the Department of Imprinting and Bonding's meeting rooms, hands clasped loosely in his lap. He breathed slow and deep, and reminded himself that there was no reason to be nervous. Or ashamed.
He flushed hot as he thought about his conversation with the DIB chaperone—she said her name was Hill—in charge of their case fire. She was a no-nonsense Domme with a brisk manner who outlined how she expected him to behave during his meeting with Steve. She was quick to reassure him that she would make sure that Steve didn’t take things too far, but if Howard could try to police himself, since she'd probably have her hands full with his Dom, she'd appreciate it. *If* he could, she'd said, with a slight smirk.
That rankled. Everyone seemed to assume that they wouldn't be able to keep their hands off each other, and that he especially would be helpless to control himself, but it wasn't as if they were unthinking animals and they were both on the suppression drugs.
It would be fine.
He looked around the room to distract himself. Obviously someone had tried to make these meeting rooms look homey, in an institutionalized sort of way. Besides the couch he was sitting on, there was a matching chair across from him, a coffee table with a vase of fake flowers, an uncomfortable looking wooden chair in the corner, and a picture of a mountain on the wall. Half-Dome, he thought.
He was thoroughly unimpressed.
The door to the room opened, and he lurched to his feet, his heart pounding in his chest.
Steve entered the room, eyes lighting on him. Howard's legs trembled, suddenly too weak to hold him up, and before he could reconsider his actions, he knelt, ignoring the protest of his knees.
Steve smiled and moved towards him quickly. He ran a possessive hand through Howard's hair and said, "Mine."
Howard's breath hitched slightly and flushed because, yes, yes, he was Steve's. His body thrummed with an awareness he never felt before, with a desire to please and be pleased by Steve. "Sir."
The tips of Steve's ears reddened and he sucked on his bottom lip thoughtfully. After a few seconds, he released Howard's hair and took a step back. "Sit on the couch, please, Howard."
Howard scrambled to obey and now he knew why Hill had smirked at him. He was willing to do whatever Steve wanted of him, eager even.
Steve sat next to him on the couch, body turned to face him, and placed a hand on his knee. Howard spread his knees wide at the touch and Steve's fingers tightened on his leg.
"I missed you," Steve said in a breathless rush. "I missed you every second we were apart. Mom kept telling me it was for the best, but how can it be? How can it be for the best, Howard, when all I want to do is be with you?"
Howard shook his head because the very idea of being separated from Steve was horrific. A nightmare.
"You're mine and you're perfect and I don't see why we have to wait for a whole year and a half." Steve slid his hand up Howard's thigh.
Howard knew he should stop Steve, push away the hand, say no. Yes, he should say no. "I love you," he said when he tried, sounding drunk.
"I love you, too." Steve gave a delighted smiled and Howard wanted to kiss him and feel that smile against his mouth.
"That's enough now, Steve," came the sharp voice of Hill. "Don't make me end this meeting."
Howard blinked because he had forgot she was in the room with them.
Steve glared at her, but slid his hand back to Howard's knee. "Tony says you're a traditionalist."
Howard swallowed hard and tried to ignore the aching of his cock. "You're a collar burner."
"Not quite. I think… I think that just because your Dom puts a collar on you doesn't mean you should get your life stripped away." Steve smiled and squeezed his knee. "I don't mind if you're a traditionalist. I like traditions."
"I… I don't know what I am anymore." He was brought up to believe that Doms and subs had their roles and those roles should be strictly enforced. Of course, he never expected that he'd be taking the role of submissive. He never expected that he'd be the one kneeling and collared at his Dom's feet, the one being punished for disobedience, the one deferring to his Dom's thoughts and wishes.
"Hey," Steve said, pulling Howard into a hug. "Hey, it's okay. We'll figure this out. We'll be as traditional as we want."
Howard closed his eyes and pressed his face against Steve's neck, letting his Dom comfort him. It was easier than he thought it would be. "I do want to wear your collar." That he knew for certain. Every time he considered *not* wearing Steve's collar, his stomach clenched with how wrong it felt.
"Okay. I… I've been saving up for a gift for my Dom since I was old enough to start doing jobs around the neighborhood. It should be enough to buy you a really nice collar." Steve pressed a kiss to Howard's hair and rubbed his back; Howard did his best not to squirm with pleasure. Hill would probably break them up.
"What do I call you?" Howard fought the urge to lick the skin of Steve's neck.
"Um..." Steve slid a hand down Howard's back and underneath the waistband of his pants, before sliding it back up again; Howard shuddered and bit back a moan. "Sir when we're alone or… or with people you feel comfortable with. How's that?"
He nodded and tried out the word; it felt right on his tongue.
"I got something for you." Steve pulled away and reached into his pocket to pull out a small jewelry box. "Go on, open it."
Howard took the box, his hands shaking, and did what he was told. In the box was a silver ring; his breath caught in his throat.
"I can't collar you, yet, but I can give you a symbol of my love." Steve plucked the ring from the box and slipped it on Howard's finger; it was a perfect fit. "It used to be my dad's. My mom gave it to me after he died, said I could give it to my… my partner. I asked Tony to find out your ring size."
"I love it," Howard said, his voice shaking. "Thank you."
"I want everyone to know you're mine, Howard. I want everyone to know that you're loved and wanted." Steve cupped Howard's cheek and he leaned into the touch.
He never thought he could feel this way: complete and sure about his lover's feelings. "I don't… I don't want to leave you."
"I don't want you to leave me either. Stupid laws." Steve brushed their mouths together. "I've dreamed about you every night. About collaring you, about fucking you."
Howard moaned and arched against Steve's body. "Yes, sir. Please."
It deteriorated from there and Hill had to physically haul Steve off of him. All Howard could do was lay against the couch, panting harshly, while they tussled. Steve managed to get away, lurching against Howard's body—he felt Steve slip something into his pocket—before Hill regained control.
"Damn underage Doms," she spat and shoved him towards the door. "Out! Out, now!"
Steve practically snarled at her before stomping out.
Hill let out an amused huff. "Well, that went better than most." She raked her eyes over him and laughed. "You've got a half hour before the next couple is scheduled to arrive. That should be plenty of time for you to cool down."
He blushed furiously at that, but met her gaze defiantly. That just made her laugh harder.
Howard didn't check his pocket until he was halfway home. Steve had slipped him one of those cheap prepaid cell phones; he couldn’t help but feel a little proud about that.
Steve didn't call that afternoon, or that evening, and eventually Howard gave up obsessively checking it and got ready for bed. Just as he was drifting off, the cell gave a loud shrill ring and he fumbled for it, almost dropping it on the floor. Then he flipped it open and brought it to his ear.
"Hello," he said, clutching the phone so hard his hand ached.
"Hey," Steve replied, his voice soft. "Did I wake you?"
"No. No, I…" Howard swallowed, his cock suddenly hard. "I was waiting for you to call."
Steve hummed. "Are you in bed?"
He closed his eyes, imagining Steve was right there with him as he slipped a hand into his underwear and gripped his cock. "Yes."
"Are you touching yourself?"
Howard groaned and stroked himself slowly. "Yes."
"Me, too." Steve's breath stuttered out in a little moan that made Howard's cock twitch. "God, Howard. *God.* I just wanna pin you to the bed and pound into you. Just fuck you until you beg me to let you come."
"I…" He let out a little sob, stroking faster, rubbing the head of his cock with his thumb. "I want that. Steve… Sir, I want that. I want to feel you the next day, I want… I want to feel you *every* day."
Steve was gasping into the phone and making soft desperate sounds.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck! He arched into his hand, his toes curling. Lights starbursted behind his eyelids when he squeezed them shut. "Sir,' he begged, his own breath harsh to his ears.
"Yeah, yeah, come." Steve let out a choked cry and that was all Howard needed.
Howard dropped the phone on the bed and jerked off fast and hard until he spilled in his hand, Steve's name on his lips. He didn't open his eyes again until his breathing slowed. He cleaned up, then he picked up the phone. "Sir?"
"Yeah," Steve said in a sleepy, satisfied voice. "Still here."
"I wish you were here. I think it would be easier if you were here." He felt tired, old and tired.
"I wish I were there, too. No one told me this would be so hard. I want to hold you, take care of you." There was a slight pause, then Steve continued. "It would be so much easier if I were the sub. Everyone looks at me differently now."
"Yeah," he whispered. "Like suddenly you're an easy target."
"No, like I'm the enemy." Steve swallowed loudly. "I didn't think people would treat you differently. Because you're… older and… and rich."
Howard laughed, and it was only a little bitter. "Not anymore. Once Tony turns eighteen, everything will revert to him. Or it will once we get the lawyers on it."
'"Everything." He turned on his side and peered at the clock. It was getting late and he had an early morning. "Why? Do you want Stark Industries?"
There was silence at the other end of the line.
"Sir? You still there?"
"No. I mean, yes, yes, I'm still here. And no, I don't want Stark Industries. That belongs to you and Tony. But… I wouldn't mind being rich."
"Of course." Something cold and hard twisted inside of him.
"That way I could go to college." There was something wistful in Steve's voice.
"Tony would pay your way." Of course he would; Tony liked Steve, they were friends.
"Sure, but… You're a traditionalist and, God, don't tell my mom this because she'd probably rip me a new one, but I think I might be, too, a little. And… I know this is going to sound hierarchical, but I want to take care of you, provide for you. And you can work if you want, of course you can, because you're brilliant, but you shouldn't have to if you don’t want to." Steve took a deep breath. "Okay, we don't need the money. I can get a job working at a factory or maybe my mom can get me a job at the hospital."
It took Howard a moment to realize what Steve was talking about. "You want the money to take care of me."
"Well, yeah. You're… you're used to being rich and I don't want you to have to… " Steve let out a little huff. "Being poor is no fun and you're used to nice cars and clothes and food and… we'll need a place to stay."
Howard couldn't help himself, he burst into laughter.
"Howard, it's not funny!" Steve sounded pissed.
No, not pissed, he realized, upset. Upset and young, because Steve was only sixteen and unlike other Doms his age, he wasn't going to grow up alongside his sub. Howard already had a life, a good life, and there was no way that Steve was going to be able to match it.
"You're right, it's not funny. I’m sorry." Howard rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Tomorrow I'll dig out the number of a great lawyer I know and text it to you. The meeting is at ten on Friday, I'll make sure he gets a seat at the table. He can advocate for your—our interests."
"What about paying him?"
"He owes me a favor. A big favor. Tell him if he takes the case pro bono, it'll wipe his debt to me."
Steve giggled. "You sound like the Godfather."
"I made him an offer he couldn't refuse." He smiled when Steve giggled again. "Seriously, though, he'll make sure we're taken care of. Alright?"
"Yeah, alright." Steve sighed. "I better go, I got school in the morning. I'll call you tomorrow, same time."
"Sounds good," he said.
"I love you, Howard. Good night."
"Good night. I love you, too."
Matt was good, very good. Ownership of Stark Industries would be transferred over to Tony on his eighteenth birthday, as would twenty percent of Howard's stock options and bonds. The rest would go to Steve when he reached majority.
Howard was just happy he didn't have to give up the Ada Lovelace. She was his first plane, and he loved her the best.
Howard stumbled out into the alley, the cool air hitting his overheated skin, and took a deep breath, wrinkling his nose at the smell. This had been a mistake, one of the biggest mistakes he had made in a very long time.
Obadiah had wanted to come with him. After all, the Hellfire Club was a viper's nest even when you were a Dom. But Howard had bristled at the suggestion that he couldn't handle himself. He didn't need someone to fucking escort him to a goddamn club he'd been going to for years.
But now he wished he had taken Obi up on his offer because—except for the whores and waitstaff—he'd been the only sub in a club full of Doms. Doms as powerful and rich as he was who had no problem letting him know what they thought about uncollared subs who came into their club unescorted.
Fuck! It wasn't supposed to be this way. It wasn't supposed to fucking matter! He ran his fingers through his hair and thought about calling Obi to pick him up. Obi would do it without a second thought.
But he didn’t want Obi. He…
Howard reached into his pocket and took out the prepaid cell phone Steve gave him and hit redial. He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall of the building. When Steve picked up, he heard the sound of music and people laughing.
"Hello," Steve said cheerfully.
"Sir." And he wanted to say more, but his throat tightened.
"Howard? Is that… Hold on, just hold on." A few moments later, the background sounds were gone. "Howard?"
He cleared his throat. "I didn't mean to interrupt your… are you at a party?"
"No, no, just hanging out with a couple of friends. What's wrong, Howard? You sound funny."
"I'm not having a good night." Howard laughed and rubbed the palm of his hand against the rough surface of the building.
"Are you at home?" Steve sounded worried and Howard hadn't meant to worry Steve.
"No, no, I’m out."
"Where? I'll come get you."
"You can't," he said, his eyes burned and his chest ached and the movement of his hand against the wall was scraping his palm.
"Screw can't. Where are you?"
"I should let you get back to hanging out with your friends," he said, trying to sound normal. Trying to sound like he wasn't falling apart at the seams.
Steve gave a frustrated sigh. "Promise me you'll call someone to pick you up. Someone you trust. Promise."
"I promise, sir. I promise." He quickly ended the call before Steve could say anything else. He took another few minutes to clear his head, then called Obi to come pick him up.
Neither of them said anything until they pulled up to Howard's place. As he was getting out, Obi grabbed him by the wrist.
"I told you so."
Howard yanked his arm out of Obi's grip. "You touch me again without permission and I'll break your fucking nose."
"Your permission or your Dom's?"
Howard slammed the car door in his smug face.
"Andre, I need that fucking file!" Howard called out to his assistant and flipped through the papers on his desk. He didn't look up until Andre cleared his throat and handed him the file.
"It's Andrew, Mr. Stark." Andre… Andrew fidgeted with the collar around his neck and shuffled his feet.
Howard leveled a flat stare his way until Andrew hunched his shoulders and dropped his gaze. Howard was trying to do some important work here and the kid was worried about *names?* "Shouldn't you be at your desk waiting for my Fujikawa call?"
"Yes, Mr. Stark," he said softly and then scurried out.
Howard shook his head; fucking subs. He looked through the file while he waited for Fujikawa's call; if it went well, they could change the face of energy and its consumption for the entire world. That was almost as exciting as blowing something up.
Five minutes passed, then ten, but it wasn't until the fifteen-minute mark that Howard was starting to get annoyed. He hit the intercom button. "Andre," he said, just to be petty, "has Fujikawa's office called yet?'
"No, Mr. Stark. I would have patched him through if he had."
"Find out what's going on. I don't have all day to wait for him." He cut off Andrew's, 'Yes, Mr. Stark.'
A few minutes later, Andrew came into the office, looking pale and nervous. "I got a hold of Mr. Fujikawa's assistant."
"And?" Howard tried not to let his quick temper get to him. After all, it wasn't Andrew's fault that Fujikawa hadn't called. And if it was, well, it shouldn't take the kid long to clear out.
Andrew cleared his throat. "Mr. Fujikawa hadn't forgotten about the meeting. He just… I was told that he would feel more comfortable talking to Mr. Stane."
"M-Mr. Stane?" Howard blinked up at Andrew, completely thrown. He hadn't expected that, but maybe he should have. Despite his daughter's outlandish behavior, Fujikawa was staunchly traditionalist. "I see."
"Would you like me to set up a meeting between Mr. Stane and Mr. Fujikawa?" Andrew played with his collar again and Howard almost snapped at him to stop.
"No. No, I…" He needed to think this through. "No."
He was still trying to think things through a few hours later when Andrew popped into his office.
"I’m leaving for the day, Mr. Stark. Do you need anything before I go?"
"No, no, I'm fine." As Andrew turned to go, Howard blurted out, "Andrew, wait."
Howard took a deep breath. "Does it bother you? Working for another sub?"
Andrew blinked at him. "N-No, Mr. Stark."
"It doesn't annoy you that you have to call me Mr. Stark?" Howard tried to keep his voice even, steady. "We're both subs. Equals."
"We aren't—You're my boss, Mr. Stark." Andrew bit his bottom lip, thoughtfully. "It's nice to know that I don't have to worry about you… you pressing the issue. Not that you did before. You always respected the collar."
Of course, he did. He wasn't… The relationship between a Dom and sub was sacred. "Do you think I'm getting what I deserve?"
Andrew's mouth twitched; Howard might not have noticed if he hadn't been looking for it. "I think, Mr. Stark, that you're a genius at what you do. Anyone who doesn't see that is an idiot."
Diplomatically put. But then, it was an unfair question to begin with. "Have a nice evening, Andrew."
"You, too, Mr. Stark."
Howard hadn't been shopping in a long time. Normally, he had people to handle that sort of thing, but this was different. He couldn't trust a personal shopper to buy Steve an imprinting gift.
This was… too intimate to trust to anyone but himself. Unfortunately, he was horrible at buying gifts. He once bought Maria a coffeepot for her birthday. Which she promptly threw at him. Luckily, living with his father had taught him how to duck.
God, he should have brought Tony with him.
Should he buy Steve jewelry? Would Steve *wear* jewelry? Maybe a watch or… what?
"Excuse me, sir, " said a pretty little sales associate. "You look a little lost. Maybe I can help you find what you're looking for?"
"Maybe. I… I'm looking for a gift." He stuffed his hands in his pockets.
"Is it a special occasion? Birthday? Maybe an anniversary?" She looked at him through lowered lashes.
"No, I'm—No…" For some reason he found himself reluctant to tell her why. "It's for… he's sixteen."
"Oh, your son?" And she meant it to be an innocent question, but he couldn't help but flinch.
"You know, I… I'm sorry, I just remember I…" He turned and walked out.
The nightly phone calls after their scheduled meetings were always intense. Steve had Howard stretch out on the bed, one arm over his head, the other clutching the phone to his ear, naked, while Steve whispered all the filthy things they were going to do together.
Howard wasn't allowed to touch himself, all he could do was lie there, panting, twitching his hips as his cock jerked and dripped against his belly.
"Are you touching yourself, Howard?" Steve asked, his voice thick with arousal even though he'd gotten himself off a few minutes ago.
Howard shook his head and whined softly. "N-No."
"Are you on your back? I don't want you rubbing yourself off on the bed."
"I'm on my back." Howard gasped and writhed. "Please, please let me touch myself. Please, sir. "
"Shh, don't talk, just listen. Listen to what I'm going to do to, Howard, once I have you naked." Steve's voice dipped lower. "I'm going to make you get on your hands and knees and crawl over to me. And I'm going to make you beg, you're gonna beg so pretty, ask me to fuck you. Ask me to use you, Howard."
Howard clenched his free hand and *sobbed* at the thought of kneeling before his Dom, panting and desperate and dependent on Steve's good will.
"But I'm not going to do it, I'm not going to fuck you. Not your ass anyway. Maybe I'll fuck your mouth if you ask nicely. You want that, Howard? You wanna taste me? You wanna swallow my come?"
"God, yes, let me taste you. Let me… all of it. I can…" He could take all of it into his mouth, gag on it, choke on it. "Sir, please me touch myself. It hurts and I… I need to touch myself."
"How much, Howard? How much do you need to touch yourself?" Steve whispered.
Howard's breath caught in his throat and he arched his hips off the bed, fucking at the air. "I'll do anything you want. Sir, I'll do anything! Let you do anything. I just need to touch myself, I need to… to come."
"But you'll let me do anything I want even if I don't, Howard. You're such a good boy. And good boys do what they're told."
Howard didn't think he could get any more aroused, but he was wrong. Heat and need raced up his spine like a lightning bolt. His cock jerked wilding, spurting precome along his already damp skin.
"Who's my good boy, Howard?"
"Me," he said eagerly, his breath coming in sobs, his hips rolling as he tried to get off without actually touching himself. "I'm your good boy. Just yours. I'll do anything you want, anything at all. Suck your cock, spread my legs for you, be your slut. Your willing little slut. I will. I will, I will, I will."
"Good boy, such a good boy. Come for me. Come for me now."
Howard cried out, his body spasming as Steve's words pulled his orgasm from him: hot and wild and absolutely perfect. It seemed to go on forever, wave after wave of pleasure, cresting, then slowly retreating back to nothingness, leaving him shaken and wrung out.
"Still with me, Howard?" Steve asked and all Howard could do was grunt, which made Steve laugh. "Alright, I'll give you another few minutes."
When Howard could actually think again, he let out a sigh, and said, "That was good."
"Yeah, you sounded like you were having a good time." Steve sounded amused and Howard couldn't really blame him.
"I still wish you were here, sir. I wish—" He cut himself off because wishing wouldn't do any good.
"Me, too. If I were there right now, I'd hold you so tight. I'd hold you and stroke your hair and tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of you. Tell you that you're my good boy."
Howard flushed. "No one's ever been proud of me before. Or if they have, they've never said it."
"That's dumb. I'm proud of you. You're… you're perfect."
He didn't know what to say about that declaration, he never did, so he said nothing. He pressed his face into the cool fabric of his pillow.
"You know, I never asked, but… have you been with a man before?"
Howard lifted his head. "No. Have you?"
"A couple of times." Steve took a deep breath. "I think you should practice. With your fingers and with toys."
He groaned as his body tried valiantly for a second go.
"I know, I know you are. And… okay. I'll… yeah." He stopped there because it was a bit embarrassing actually. Speaking of embarrassing… "My ex-wife bought us an imprinting gift. I hope you don't mind but I opened it."
"I don't mind. What did she get us?" Steve asked, sounding eager.
"A sex toy." God, he was blushing again. What the hell was happening to him?
"Really? What kind?"
"A dildo. A sparkly blue dildo. It looks like someone cut off Glitter Smurf's cock."
Steve snickered. "Blue *is* my favorite color."
"That's what she read." Howard chuckled, which made Steve giggle, and soon they were both laughing. It was all so fucking weird; Howard had never laughed so much with anyone before. "She's a terrible, terrible person and I think you'd really like her."
"I can't wait to meet her. Maybe in a few months the department will let us have a family get-together."
"That'd be nice. I'd like to meet your mom. After all, you wouldn't hump me in front of her, would you?"
"No! Ugh, don't ever say that again," Steve said, and Howard laughed softly.
"Sorry about that." He really wasn't. "I better go. I need another shower before I get some sleep. Love you."
"Love you, too."
Hill said they weren't quite ready for unsupervised visits, even if they were going to be surrounded by family. She suggested they ask again in another six months, which was absolutely ridiculous in Howard's opinion. He wasn't going to wait six months to meet the woman who was going to be his mother-in-law.
After a quick conversation with Steve, Howard decided to visit her at the hospital, that way if she hurt him, he'd be right there. Steve thought he was being ridiculous, but Howard would rather be safe than sorry.
He stopped off at his favorite deli, bought a couple of sandwiches, and went to the hospital. Steve said she often worked the emergency room, so hopefully, she wouldn't be too busy to take a lunch break.
He recognized her immediately; she looked like Steve. Well, he supposed that Steve looked like her. He walked up to the nurses' station and cleared his throat. When she looked up from the computer he said, "Sarah Rogers?"
She tilted her head. "Howard Stark. I've been expecting you."
"That sounds ominous." He held up the bag holding their lunch. "I brought food."
"Good, I'm hungry." She stood up and stretched; Howard winced in sympathy as her back cracked. "Jenny, I'm taking my lunch. Come on, there's an empty office we can use."
Office was being generous; it was more like a closet with a small table and a few chairs. Howard kept his observations to himself and handed her a roast beef on rye.
"My favorite. You cheated and asked Steve," she said, taking a bite.
"Every good businessman knows that you should learn the lay of the land before embarking on a venture." He bit into his sandwich: turkey, no mayo, it was dry as fuck, but he was watching his cholesterol.
"Hm." Sarah gave him a measuring look; he smiled.
"Tony tells me you're—" He wiped his mouth so he wouldn't blurt out collar burner. "You're part of the Submissive Rights movement."
That's right." She raised an eyebrow. "And Steve tells me you're a traditionalist. How's that working out for you?"
Howard stared down at his sandwich for a moment; he knew she would bring it up eventually, which was why he decided to use it as an opening gambit. "It stings that I have to give up my job and my business, especially since it puts Tony in a bad position. He's too young to be CEO but, thankfully, he learns quickly."
She licked mustard off her thumb. "And the rest is easy?"
"Of course not!" he said, and it came out harsher than he meant it to. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I identified as a Dom my whole life. I thought that's what my alignment was, so yes, it's a bit jarring. But I… I can't very well deny who I am and what I want. What I believe. Can't a person be a traditionalist *and* for submissive rights?"
"Not generally." Sarah sighed and wiped her hands with a napkin. "You could always petition to break the bond."
He stared at her in horror.
"Okay, maybe not. Howard, relax." She reached out to touch his hand, but he snatched it away at the last minute.
"I would never," he said, his heart racing, the words tumbling from his mouth. "I would *never* do that. I love him and… Why would you say that? Why?"
"You're right, I'm sorry. I should never have said that. It was cruel of me." She let out a frustrated sound. "I'm just worried. Steve is having a hard time adjusting to his alignment and I'm afraid that I'm not sure what to do. If his father were here…"
Howard closed his eyes and forced himself to relax. Sarah was just worried about Steve, that was all. He counted to fifty, then opened his eyes. "I thought Steve took a couple of classes."
"At school and at the Y, but those classes don't exactly help a kid whose identification and alignment are different. And instinct only goes so far."
That was true enough. "You have something in mind, don't you?"
"Yes, but it costs money."
Howard shook his head. "Don’t worry about that. Now tell me."
"I've been asking around the hospital, trying to get help for Steve, and one of the psychiatrists told me about a professor in Westchester who's been helping people like Steve who might need help adjusting. His name is—"
"Charles Xavier." Howard smiled.
"You know him?"
"Every time we meet up at a gala or fundraiser he tries to get me to donate to that school of his." Then a horrible thought came to him. "You're not suggesting that Steve move there."
"No, of course not." She gave Howard a chagrined look. "I spoke with him already and he said he would be willing to have private sessions with Steve. For a donation."
"Of course he did, that smug bastard." Howard laughed. "Why don't you call him and set up those sessions. I'm sure the Professor and I can come to an agreement about the donation."
A lot can happen in a year and a half. And it does, much to Howard's exasperation.
OMG, finally done! For some reason these longer stories feel like they take forever, when I suppose it's not that bad. Now I can get back to Blot out the Sun and my series.
"It's not fair!" Tony's voice echoed sharply in the room. He stood in front of Howard's desk, cheeks flushed, body rigid with anger.
"Tony, I know you're upset. I get it, but I need you here."
"Why? Why can't I go back to MIT?" Tony's clenched his hands. "Dad, please."
"We have less than a year and a half to get you up to speed on what's going with Stark Industries, to groom you for the position of CEO." Damn, he could really use a drink right about now. "This isn't what I want either, Tony. But you can finish your degrees at NYU. It's a perfectly good school." It wasn't MIT, but they all had to make sacrifices.
"I don’t even want to be CEO! Let Obadiah run the company!'
"Stop being ridiculous," Howard spat out, rising to his feet, "and grow the fuck up! We all have to do things we don't want. But it's our company and it's our responsibility."
"You mean it's my company and my responsibility, because you're not man enough do what the right thing."
"And what's that?"
"You could break the bond. You haven't consummated your relationship yet, so it'll be easier to do. But you don't want to, do you?" Tony gave him a look of utter disgust. "You like being on your knees. You like being a mindless little slave doing whatever his master wants."
"Get. Out," Howard said in a soft voice. He held himself very still, because he knew, he knew that if he moved, he would hit Tony. And he promised himself a long time ago that would never happen.
"Grandpa was right. You ruin everything. You always ruin everything!" Tony stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Howard stumbled back against the desk; his chest ached and his eyes stung and he wanted to destroy something, anything. Oh, he knew Tony hadn't meant those words, not really. It was only a way of lashing out against the injustice of it all, he understood that.
He slipped his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed Steve's number.
"Hi, Howard," Steve answered cheerfully. "What's going on?"
"Hey," he said, his voice hoarse. "I Just wanted to talk to you. Hear your voice."
"Is everything all right? You sound funny."
Howard closed his eyes and rubbed the back of his hand against his mouth. "I think I'm getting a cold."
Steve made a sympathetic sound. "Summer colds are the worst. You know, I open a mean can of soup. We could probably tell our keeper that I didn't know you were home. She might even believe us."
He smiled at that; talking to Steve made the painful ache in his chest fade away. "I'd never forgive myself if I got you sick."
"You know all you have to do is say the word and I'll be right there."
"I know," he said. "I know."
Howard found Steve's imprinting gift while he was looking for some tax forms he was sure were in his desk somewhere. It was tucked in the back of the drawer amid paperclips and pencil stubs: his grandfather's pocket watch.
He ran his thumb over the engraved words on the case: To my laughter and my tears, my sun and my stars, my soul's abiding joy, my Isaac. His grandmother's family had been watch-makers and she had spent hours crafting the timepiece for her Dom. Isaac wore it every day and when he died, he had it clutched in his hand.
Howard wound it up to see if it still worked; it did. Then he pressed the watch to his ear, the way he used to when he was a boy, closed his eyes, and listened to it tick.
"It belonged to my grandfather," he said, swallowing nervously.
"Oh. Oh, Howard." Steve rubbed his index finger over the words, mouthing them slowly. "It's perfect. How long were they bonded?"
"Fifty three years."
"Wow." Steve looked up at him in wonder.
"Yeah," he said, knowing they would never have that long, and smiled when Steve touched his face.
His soul's abiding joy.
Howard stamped his feet and blew on his fingers as he waited for Jarvis to pull up to the curb. Where the hell was the man? He was going to freeze out here. You know what, fuck it. He turned to go back inside when an old, clunky Cutlass pulled up and the back driver's side door opened.
Steve leaned out and gestured for him to come closer. "Get in."
"Get—What are you doing here?" he asked, as he climbed into the backseat and closed the door.
"I'm kidnapping you for the evening." Steve smiled and kissed him gently. "Oh, meet my friends. That's Peggy," he said, gesturing to the girl in the driver's seat.
"And I'm Bucky." The boy next to her looked back and grinned. "I get to be the keeper of the spray bottle."
"Um, nice to meet you both." Howard jerked a little when Peggy pulled into traffic. "Why are you kidnapping me?"
Steve shrugged and gestured for Howard to buckle in. "I wanted to see you. Aren't you glad to see me?"
"I'm always glad to see you," he said softly and Steve slid a hand into his hair and kissed him. He kissed back hungrily; let himself get lost in the kiss, in Steve's hand brushing against his chest, teasing his nipples until he moaned.
Steve's hands moved lower and Howard arched into them, when suddenly they were sprayed with icy cold water. Steve let out a yelp and Howard jerked away.
"What the fuck!" Howard stared at Bucky, who was grinning triumphantly.
"See, Peg, told you it would work."
Steve glared at him.
"Damn it, Bucky," Steve said, "if you spray us one more time, I'm going to shove that bottle where the sun don't shine!"
It was so easy to give in. To let Steve pull him into the spare bedroom of Peggy's townhouse, take off his tie and jacket, slip off his shirt, and push him down on the bed.
He told himself it was alright, he was still wearing his pants and his undershirt.
"I'm going to blindfold you," Steve said, picking up Howard's tie.
And Howard let him.
He let Steve bind his hands over his head and kiss his mouth over and over, licking and biting until he was moaning, writhing, lost in the taste and feel and sound of it.
"Sir," he gasped. "Sir."
"Shhh." Steve pinched his nipples, drawing a cry from him. "Don't make me gag you."
He groaned at the thought, his face flushing, his cock twitching in his pants.
"You're so beautiful," Steve said, running his fingers along Howard's jaw, then his bottom lip. "I'm going to keep you like this, every night for the first month, I'm going to keep you just like this."
Howard bit back a desperate sound and his hips snapped up once, twice, three times before he could stop himself.
"I knew you'd like that idea." And Steve's voice was just a whisper, but Howard could swear that he felt it along his skin. "It's because you're a good boy, Howard. And good boys do what they're told, don't they?"
This time he couldn’t keep the choked sound from escaping his lips. "Y-Yes."
"Good boy." Steve sounded so proud.
Pleasure, hot and thick, spread through Howard, leaving him panting and straining against the cuffs around his wrists.lease. Touch me. Please." He needed to feel Steve's hands on him.
"Such a good boy." Steve pushed up Howard's shirt and laid his palm against the skin there.
Howard whined and Steve shushed him.
"You feel so good." He ran his fingers along Howard's stomach, dipping down to skim the edge of Howard's belly button.
So did Steve. Steve felt so good against his skin: hot and real and demanding.
Suddenly. Steve yanked his belt open, unbuttoned his pants, and pulled down the zipper; Howard's body sang, the edges of the bond tugging at him.
"God," Steve said, suddenly hoarse. "God, Howard, I need you. I want to taste your cock and fuck your ass and make you scream my name."
"Yes. Yes, yes, yes." That was all he could say, that was all he wanted to say. He spread his legs and arched his back. "Fuck me, suck me, do anything. Do *everything.*"
"Yeah, yeah." Steve slid a hand into Howard's pants, fingers curling around his cock, when there was a sudden knock on the door.
"I'm coming in," said Peggy. "You'd better be decent or I'll have Bucky spray you again."
Steve growled and pulled his hand out. "Come in!"
Howard groaned and curled away from the door, his body aching for completion. He heard the door open.
"Oh, good, you're still dressed. Dinner's here. Don't give me that look, Steve. You asked to be interrupted, remember? Now get your arses out here."
Steve grumbled softly, uncuffed Howard's hands, and pulled off the makeshift blindfold. "You okay?"
No, no, he wasn't. He wanted Steve to finish what he started. He wanted to rut against the bed until he came. He wanted… Fuck! "Need a minute," he said tensely.
"Me, too," Steve said. "But I'll… I'll use the bathroom."
When Howard was alone, he masturbated furiously. It only took a half a dozen strokes before he was coming. He cleaned his hand with the tie, the silk was ruined anyway, and put his shirt back on.
Howard sat on the bed, angry and disappointed, then angry for being disappointed.
Fuck, fuck, fuck! What was he doing? He had to get out of here. He couldn’t stay.
He took a deep breath, firmed his resolve, and strode out of the room. The three of them were sitting around the coffee table, eating Chinese food out of the cartons.
Steve looked up at him and smiled and all of Howard's resolve melted away. "Are you hungry?"
"Yeah," he said, his voice soft and affectionate. "I'm starving."
Howard sat at his desk, staring at the screen of his laptop, his fingers posed at the keys. After a moment, he typed a 'b' into the search engine, then quickly deleted it.
He took a deep, shaky breath, poured himself a scotch, and drank it. He could do this.
He typed 'breaking imprint' and hit return.
Howard drove to Westchester himself even though he hated driving in the snow. He needed the time to clear his head and think. He couldn’t do that with someone else accompanying him. Even if that person was Jarvis, who could be relied upon to keep quiet.
Charles' school was housed in a sprawling mansion with a large grounds. There was too much space for Howard's liking. He preferred the city, he always had.
He was ushered into Charles' office by a short, muscular man, who seemed to communicate in grunts and glares. It was almost like talking to Tony before he had his morning coffee.
Charles greeted Howard with a smile, wheeling over to shake his hand. "Howard, it's nice to see you again."
"You, too. Thank you for making the time to see me."
"Of course. Your donation was a great help to this school. Please, have a seat. Could I interest you in some bourbon?"
"That would be great, thank you. I take it neat." Howard sat in an overstuffed chair, hands in his lap.
"I must admit," Charles said, bringing him his drink, "I was expecting you sooner."
"Were you?" Howard sipped his drink. "I've been busy."
"Yes, I expect there have been a lot of changes in your life recently." Charles frowned with concern and Howard fought down a jolt of anger.
Howard laughed, a little more bitterly than he wanted to. "That's an understatement."
"Mm. Steve is doing quite well. He's a determined young man, and he's certainly not afraid of hard work. You're a lucky man," Charles said, gently. When Howard didn't respond, Charles continued, "If you'd like, I could give you a tour. Show you where your money has gone."
"Yes, I…" He drained his glass and stared into in. "The thing is… The thing is that I… I'm not here for a tour and I'm not here to listen to you go on about how wonderful Steve is. I know he's wonderful. Everyone knows he's wonderful."
"Howard." Charles moved closer to him and but didn't touch him.
He looked up. "What do you know about breaking the bond?"
"Ah." Charles steepled his hands and stared off into space for a moment. "I know that it's a very serious matter and if you're considering it, you should talk to Steve."
"I can't talk to Steve!"
"It concerns him, too."
Howard didn't know how Charles could be so calm. "I don't want to hurt him. I don't want him to think that I don’t want him, love him."
"You're breaking the bond. What is he supposed to think?"
"You don't know what it's like!" Howard's hands shook. "I'm forty years old, Charles. Forty! I've got an ex-wife and a teenage son the same age as my Dom! I've got a life! A life I love, a job I love, a reputation that makes people respect me! But now that's gone. In one moment, it's gone! All of it is gone and I don't want it to be. I don't."
"I know. Howard, I know." Charles touched him then, just a light touch on his arm, nothing possessive or forward.
"And I can't talk to him about it. Not won't, *can't.* Every time I'm in the room with him, my brain shuts off. And when I'm with him, I love it. I love every moment of it. But when he's gone…. W-When—" Howard closed his eyes and struggled to regain his control. "When he's not there, I feel angry and weak and ashamed. I feel so ashamed."
"Let me help you, Howard," Charles said softly. "Before you decide to break the bond you have with Steve, let me try."
Howard opened his eyes. "I was supposed to be a Dom."
"But you're not." There was no pity or kindness in Charles' voice, only a brutal honesty; Howard was grateful for that.
"I want to be happy," he said.
Charles smiled. "That's all anyone ever wants. Do you think you can be happy without Steve?"
Howard thought about it for a moment. "I could be… content."
"That's not quite the same thing." Charles tilted his head. "Do you want to be happy or merely content?"
"Can't I be happy and content?"
"Well, that's entirely up to you, my friend."
Howard laughed softly. "You're infuriating, you know that, right?"
"So my Dom tells me."
"I don't want to hurt Steve, Charles. I don't want to hurt him. Until I'm sure what I want, I can't talk about breaking the bond. I can't."
"I understand and I agree completely." Charles put some distance between them. "I still think you and Steve should talk. It doesn't have to be face to face if that's too difficult. I know you two talk on the phone every night. Try then. I'd also like to see you once a week. To talk."
Howard wasn’t sure he was comfortable with that. It felt… wrong to need help for something that should come naturally.
That wasn't fair, but then when was it ever fair. "Alright. "
"How do Sunday afternoons sound?"
Howard snorted. "Grand."
"I can't believe you decked Mathews!" Tony was gesticulating wildly; his eye was swollen shut, but he was grinning.
"Of course I decked him, Tony. He hit you." Howard grabbed the ice pack from Tony and placed it on his eye. "Keep it there. You shouldn't have provoked him."
"Ow. How did I provoke him?"
"You asked him if his Dom knew he was out by himself then told him he couldn't find his ass with both hands." Howard flexed his hand and winced. He was much better at taking punches than giving them.
"After what he said about you, he deserved it," Tony said fiercely.
"While I appreciate you defending my honor, I don't need it. This sort of thing will just make it more difficult for you when you take over."
"Not sorry!" Tony spun in Howard's chair. "You don't think he's gonna press charges, do you?"
"What? And tell people he was laid out by a sub? Not a chance." Howard poured himself a drink and took a sip when the door opened and Obi came in. "Thanks for knocking."
Obi brushed aside the comment with an amused glance. "Tony, I can tell already that your time as CEO is going to be different."
Tony stopped spinning and laughed. "As long as I'm not boring."
"Never that," Obi said.
"Boring keeps the board and our investors happy." He turned to Obi. "Don't encourage him."
Obi rested his hand on Howard's neck and rubbed gently; Howard tensed. "Relax, Howard. The board likes our kid's guts. Besides, he wasn't the one laying 'em out. That's quite an arm you got there, champ."
Howard shrugged Obi's hand away; annoyed by the gesture and paternal tone. "They think Tony's amusing. For now. What he needs is their respect."
Tony rolled his eyes and shared a look with Obi. "You worry too much, Dad."
"And you don't worry enough."
Howard was not one to skirt an issue. He preferred to deal with obstacles head on. That said, it took him several months to bring up his concerns. As much as he loved Steve, and he did, with his whole heart, he had no desire to confess his problems to a sixteen year old. His Dom or not.
"II thought we could have dinner at your place on Tony's actual birthday. Jarvis doesn't have to cook, Mom says she'll do it. So what do you think?"
"Mm," Howard said, his toes still tingling from the orgasm he had not a half hour ago.
Steve laughed. "What's up with you tonight? You've been awfully distracted."
"Sorry." He ran a hand over his face. "I've been thinking."
"You're always thinking. You and Tony both, your brains are always on full-speed ahead. So what have you been thinking about?"
"You know that I've been… talking to Charles." And it was going better than he expected. It was less like a visiting a psychiatrist and more like getting some very good advice from a friend. Except with homework.
"Yeah, he mentioned a couple of times." Steve went quiet for a moment, then said, "He keeps pushing me to talk to you."
"He does? About what?"
"Stuff." Steve sighed and Howard could hear him shift. "About how tough it's been for me. It's hard to adjust, you know? You see yourself one way, but actually you're another. And suddenly people expect you to act a certain way and when you don't it gets confusing."
Steve sounded so young, so unsure of himself. And of course he was, he was a kid. He was floundering along just as much as Howard was, maybe even more so because he was still trying to figure out who he was as a person.
"I know the feeling," Howard said. "People have been treating me differently, too. As if my alignment has changed me on some fundamental level. And maybe it has, but not the way they think. I'm still me. I'm still a great businessman, a genius, someone who can stand up for himself. I'm not weak, I've never been weak."
"I know that, you know. I know you're strong. Strong and smart and handsome."
"How can you tell? Every time we're together, I'm trying to get on my knees or on my back." He meant it to be funny, but his tone was too serious.
"Tony talks about you all the time, mostly to complain, but I know he looks up to you. And my mom… you really impressed her and not many people do. And… and it's not like we don't talk. We're talking now, right?"
Howard smiled wryly. "I suppose that's true. So what about you? What expectations are you fighting against?"
"I guess… This is going to sound stupid, but I'm used to people touching me. A lot of subs, not all, but a lot of us… *them* are very touch-oriented."
"I noticed." God, how he noticed—it was annoying and it gave him the creeps.
"Mom says it's cultural; subs in other countries don't touch as much. But I like it. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger than myself, you know? But now that I'm a Dom, it's stopped. Even my mom has stopped touching me so much. It's like they're afraid I'll take it as an invitation or challenge. I'm not some feral animal people have to watch out for now that I'm Dom-aligned!"
"I know, sir—" No, no, Steve wasn't 'sir' right now. "Steve, I know it's hard. You just need to let people get used to your alignment. Let them figure out for themselves that you're still the same person you've always been."
"I feel like I'm on the outside of everything!" Steve's voice was thick with tears and Howard ached for him. "It's so bad that sometimes I… I love you, Howard, I do. You're my everything, but I've thought about breaking the bond."
Steve sounded ashamed and frightened and Howard knew he couldn't keep quiet. He said softly, "Me, too. I've thought about it, too."
Steve sobbed. "I don't want to, though. I don’t want to break it. You're the only good thing about all this."
"Steve. God, Steve, I… I don't want to either." And he didn’t, he realized. He wanted Steve, wanted him with a certainty he only felt when he was in his workshop, elbow deep in some machine he knew like the back of his hand. He'd never get his reputation back anyway, people would always see him as a sub. He groaned.
"W-What?" Steve sniffled loudly.
"If I donate money to your mom's chapter of collar burners, she's not going to make me go to a meeting and hug out my feelings, is she?"
"There's nothing wrong with hugging things out."
Howard couldn't help it; he laughed and laughed until Steve hung up on him.
"How are things with Tony?" Charles asked and Howard almost groaned because he was here to talk about his alignment and *Steve,* not his kid.
"They're fine. He's fine." Mostly. "His birthday's on Thursday. We're having a family get together and then on Saturday he has his big party."
"It must be stressful for him. He'll have to take over the business in a little over a year from now."
Howard leaned back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling. "He's handling it well."
"I…" Howard sighed and rubbed his forehead. "He's not ready. He's not remotely ready. God, I'm throwing him to the wolves."
"Isn't there anyone else who can take over?" Charles asked.
"No. Yes." He sat up and looked at Charles. "Obadiah."
"You sound reluctant." Charles tilted his head and frowned. "I thought you and Stane were friends."
"We are. We…" He sighed and shrugged. "I don't know. He's the perfect choice to take over as interim CEO, at least until Tony is ready to take over. Maybe in another four or five years. But… I… I should trust him. He hasn't done anything to warrant mistrust."
"I thought he tried taking over Stark Industries once?" Charles looked puzzled.
"That was years ago." Howard chuckled fondly. "And besides, that was business."
"So is this," Charles said.
"Obi adores Tony, hell, he's a better father than I am. And he knows the business inside and out." He glanced at Charles. "My instincts are screaming at me not to trust him. He's my best friend and… I don't trust him. I mean, what's wrong with me?"
"Maybe there isn't anything wrong with you." Charles wheeled closer. "You don't have to be politic with me, Howard. You know I would never break confidence, not without your permission."
That might be true, but it still felt like a betrayal. He and Obi had been friends and antagonists for almost twenty years now; that created a strong bond. "I don't like the way he looks at me now and I've… I've never liked the way he looks at Tony."
"Like Obi just found the best toy. And I know that Tony doesn't see it. Tony loves him. He doesn't know how ruthless Obi can be." Howard shuddered. "Obi touches me and it all seems very innocent, but it doesn't feel that way."
"Go on," Charles said and went to the bar to pour them a drink. "I'm listening."
"It feels like he's testing me. Trying to see how far he can push. He's done that before, back before Stane International folded." He sighed and when Charles handed his a glass of bourbon, he smiled. "Do you think I'm overreacting because he's a Dom?"
Charles let a slow breath and stared into his glass. "I think you have good instincts, Howard. Don’t start second-guessing yourself now, you're going to need them." He took a drink from his glass. "Most people are overt in their prejudices and their bigotry, other people are more subtle. And those can be the worst sorts of bigots. And the most damaging."
"Sounds like you have some experience there, Charles."
"Yes. Yes, I do." Charles mouth tightened slightly. "My stepfather was very much like your father."
"I'm sorry," he said and Charles shrugged. After a moment, he lifted up his glass. "Well, then let's have a drink to dead paternal figures." He drank.
Charles laughed softly and drained his glass. "You're a bad influence."
"Damn straight I am."
It was Tony's birthday party and Howard knew he should be downstairs making sure none of the kids broke into his liquor cabinet. Instead he was in his room with Steve, kissing and being caressed through his clothes.
"We shouldn't be up here," he said into Steve's mouth.
Steve hummed softly and bit Howard's bottom lip. "Afraid someone will catch us? I hear that Mr. Stark can be really scary."
He moaned and arched up into Steve. "Oh, I don't know, I think he's alright."
"Yeah," Steve said, dipping his tongue into Howard's mouth, before pulling away, "he's great."
Howard made a sound of protest and tried to pull Steve back in for another kiss, but Steve put a hand on his chest to stop him. "What is it?"
"Where are your toys?"
"My…" Howard swallowed hard, his face flushing. "In the closet."
"Why—You know what? It doesn't matter." Steve sat up and stretched. "Go get them."
"Alright." Howard got to his feet and Steve grabbed his hand. He made a questioning sound.
He shuddered and fought the urge to slide on top of Steve and rub up against him. "Yes, sir." He dropped to his hands and knees and crawled to his closet: his face was hot, his cock twitched in his pants and knew, God, he knew if he looked back Steve would be watching him. He didn't check, because if he did, he might come in his pants.
He grabbed the bag of toys, which was tucked into a corner, and brought it back to Steve. Then he climbed back onto the bed, sat next to Steve, and waited.
"These are still in their packaging." Steve looked at Howard and frowned. "You haven't been practicing."
Howard lowered his gaze and stared at his duvet. "N-No, sir."
His throat tightened and he shook his head. He didn't know what to say. He didn't know how to explain the tangle of emotions he felt every time he took out those toys.
"Howard." Steve lifted Howard's chin. "Tell me why. Are you afraid?"
He licked his lips and took a deep breath. "I think that's part of it. They're… they're big."
"That's why you use your fingers first." Steve rubbed along Howard's jaw with his thumb. "To get used to it. But… that's not what's really stopping you, is it?"
"I've never…" He swallowed hard. "Sir, you know I've never…"
"You're a virgin," Steve said, matter-of-factly.
Howard's face grew hot and he knew he must be bright red with embarrassment. "I'm not."
"No, no, but you are." Steve smiled at him. "You've never had anal sex. You've never even pleasured yourself that way, have you?"
"No," he whispered. He couldn’t help himself, he squirmed under Steve's considering gaze.
"Oh. *Oh.*" Steve kissed him, a sloppy, wet kiss that promised all sorts of dirty things. "You're a good boy, aren't you, Howard? And good boys stay virgins until their bonding night. Good boys would never use toys on themselves. Or even their hands or fingers. Good boys know that their pleasure is only for their Dom. Isn't that right, Howard?"
"Y-Yes," he choked out.
"And you're a good boy." Steve pushed his back against the bed. "You're my good boy."
Howard lifted his hands over his head, made a soft, desperate sound, and writhed against Steve. "Your good boy. Yours."
Steve smiled and leaned down to whisper in his ear. "There's so much we can still do, Howard. Things with our mouths and hands and toys. I'm gonna show you as many of them as I can. And if you're a very good boy, if you're the very *best* boy, I'll let you fuck me."
Howard cried out, arching against Steve's body as those words sent him over the edge, and he came.
"Good boy," Steve said, licking at his earlobe. Then he rolled away. "Get undressed and kneel beside the bed. Your first lesson is cock sucking."
Howard shuddered and hastened to obey.
Howard was experienced, God knew that he and Maria experimented, but Steve was inventive enough to keep him on his toes.
Hill looked from Steve to Howard, and back again. Then she snorted and shook her head. "Took you long enough, kid. Most Doms your age take half as long."
Steve's face reddened and Howard looked away in embarrassment.
"So how do you feel?" Charles asked.
"About what?" He rolled the glass between his hands and looked out the window. A group of children were outside playing a game of soccer; they looked like they were having a nice time.
"Tony's going to be eighteen in a few months. Is he ready? Are you?"
"No and no." Howard looked at Charles and sighed. "Sarah, that's Steve's mom, she wants me to take active part in the movement."
"It would be helpful if you did more than donate money. You have a presence, people listen to you."
"Flattery, Charles?" He raised an eyebrow.
Charles sighed and gave him an exasperated look. "No, Howard, I'm being honest. I work with children every day who struggle to come to terms with their alignment. Most of those children are submissives. They're ashamed of themselves, they think there's something wrong with them, that they're weak, that they're less than human. They deserve better than that. And so do we."
"I'm not…" He looked away. "I have no interest in politics."
"What about integrity? Do you have an interest in that?"
Howard shook his head. "I'll tell you what I told her, what I told Steve, I'll think about it."
Howard supposed that he could have had Andrew pack up his office, but he wanted to do it himself. Maybe he was being ridiculous, but he'd worked in this office for ten years, his father for thirty, his grandfather for five of the thirty-two years he'd been CEO of Stark Industries.
It was unfair and it hurt and maybe it would never stop hurting. But he'd move on. He'd learn to move on. He leaned against his desk and ran his hands through his hair, groaning softly.
"You look tired."
Howard started. "Fuck, Obadiah. Didn't I tell you to knock?"
Obi shrugged, walked across the room, and sat on the desk next to him. "The door was open. Besides, it's not your office anymore, is it? Once you clear out, Tony can move in."
"Thanks for the reminder," he said, giving Obi a dirty look.
"You worry too much, Howard. He'll be fine." Obi nudged Howard with his shoulder. "I'll make sure our boy does the right things."
"*My* boy." He surprised himself with level of vehemence in his voice.
By the look on Obi's face, it surprised him, too. "Alright, your boy. You're a bit possessive for a sub, Howard."
"Not possessive, Obi. Protective." He tensed when he felt Obi's hand against the small of his back.
"It's kind of sexy." Obi grinned at him.
"Stop it," he said, pushing Obi's hand away.
"Oh, come on, Howard. You're not bonded yet, at least not officially." Obi moved and trapped Howard between his body and the desk. "Have a little fun."
Howard gave him a flat stare. "Get out of my face."
"Or what?" Obi pressed himself against Howard. "You'll sic your little Dom on me?"
"No, or I'll break your fucking jaw." He clenched his hands into fists, tensing. He was so fucking done with this shit. All he wanted, all he wanted to do was pack, reminisce a little, then get the fuck out so he could lick his wounds in peace.
Obi stared at him for a moment, then backed up a few steps, chuckling. "Geez, Howard, learn to take a—"
He should have expected it, he should have fucking expected it—why didn't he ever learn—but he hadn't. Obi backhanded him and Howard let out a cry of surprise, stumbling back against the desk. That gave Obi enough time to shove Howard back against the deck, a large hand wrapped around his neck, tight enough to warn him not to struggle.
"You pissant little sub. I've had to deal with your superiority complex for twenty fucking years. I deserve a little of this." He groped Howard's crotch.
"Let go of me, you son of a bitch!" Howard tried to buck him off, but the hand on his throat tightened—he was beginning to see black spots in his vision.
"I wasn’t surprised when you aligned submissive, did you know that? I used to fantasize about fucking you, making you beg for my cock. And now that you're not CEO anymore, I'm gonna fulfill a few of them. I'm going to show you what a real Dom is like."
Howard spat at him. "Fuck. You."
Obi laughed. "Oh, no. Fuck you, Howard."
"Mr. Stark," came a soft, hesitant voice from the doorway. Andrew. They both fucking forgot about Andrew. "Are you alright, sir?"
He wanted to laugh. He wanted to fucking cry. Instead he clawed at Obi's hand, trying to get him to let go.
"Mind your own goddamn business," Obi said.
"This is my business, Mr. Stane." Andrew straightened and met Obi's eyes. "I think you should let him go."
"Why? What are *you* going to do if I don't?"
"Nothing. But I called Mr. Stark and he'll be down here any minute now. I don't think he'll take kindly to this… display."
It took Howard a moment to realize Andrew was talking about *Tony.*
Obi snarled, tightened his grip a just a fraction, before letting go. "You're lucky, Howard." He stormed out of the room, giving Andrew the dirtiest look as he went.
Howard wheezed and coughed, his hands coming to his neck. "Sh-Shouldn't. D-Dangerous."
Andrew shrugged and helped him sit up. "I'm not worried. My Dom would kick his ass, then prosecute him if he tried anything. She's the assistant DA."
Howard laughed, or tried to.
"Let me get you some ice." Andrew patted him on the shoulder, then hurried out.
He sat on the desk and wrapped his arms around himself, feeling angry and disgusted. He couldn’t believe he let Obi get the better of him. He couldn’t believe that jackass had thought—Howard was going to dismantle Obi's life, piece by piece.
"Dad? Obi?" Tony called from reception area. "Andrew said you two were fight—Holy shit! What the hell happened to you?"
Howard looked over at Tony, who strode into the room. "Nothing," he croaked.
"That doesn't like nothing. Dad, what happened? Did Obi—Obi did this to you?"
"It's nothing. It was a… misunderstanding."
"I thought Andrew was overreacting when he said… when he said that Obi attacked you." Tony's face went blank. "I'm gonna kill him! I'm gonna fire him and then I'm gonna kill him!"
"No, you're not." It hurt to talk, it hurt to breathe, but he couldn't let Tony do this. "You need him. The board trusts him."
"Screw the board and screw Obi!" When Howard opened his mouth to speak, Tony shook his head and shushed him. "First of all, you're my dad. My *dad.* You're more important to me than this business. So I'm not going to work with someone who'd hurt you like this. I'm not. So we'll just have to find another way to deal with the board, okay? Okay?!"
"Okay," Howard said softly.
Tony blushed. "I love you, Dad."
Howard looked away. "I love you, too."
"Are you going to kneel?" Sarah asked as she walked into his den.
"You're not my Dom."
"Ha, ha, very funny." She flopped down in one of the chairs and stared at him. "Well, are you?"
Howard sighed and tossed the pencil on the desk. "You know, there's a reason why I hired an event planner. So I wouldn't have to think about the bonding ceremony until the actual day."
"You didn’t answer my question."
"My bonding is not a political statement, Sarah." He ran his fingers through his hair in frustration.
"Don't be naïve, Howard. Of course it's political. You and Steve are equal in the bonding. You should—"
Howard held up his hand. "I've read the pamphlets. I've agreed to attend your group meeting next week, please stop. I—" The rest of his sentence was cut off by a moan as a wave of heat and lust rolled though his body. He pressed his face against the cool wood of the desk and panted his way through it. When it finally passed, he shakily sat back up. "Sorry."
Sarah shook her head. "Don't be. Steve's been having the same reaction to coming off the suppression drugs. Hopefully your hormones normalize soon, otherwise your guests could be getting quite an eyeful at your bonding ceremony."
"Oh, God, don’t joke about that." He wiped the sweat off his face with a handkerchief.
"So?" Sarah said, expectantly.
Howard rolled his eyes. "I don't know, okay? I haven't decided yet. Steve says he'll support whatever I choose to do. Will you?" She was going to be his mother-in-law, after all.
"Of course I will, Howard." Sarah sighed, and said in a teasing tone, "Even if you are a traditionalist."
He smiled at her. "Take heart, Sarah. One of these days you may get me to burn a collar."
"Sure, just not yours."
He laughed at that. "Probably not."
Howard felt a little strange wearing a tuxedo without the bowtie, but concessions had to be made for the collar. His collar. He touched his neck and shivered at the thought.
The door opened and he turned to see Steve slip into the room, a look of satisfaction on his face.
"Wow, you look great," Steve said, hugging him and pressing a soft kiss to his neck.
Howard lifted his chin and hummed softly. "So do you."
"I can't believe today's the day. It seems like I've been waiting forever." He bit Howard's neck, then licked the spot. "My Howard. My good… my *wonderful* boy."
He moaned softly and slipped his hands under Steve's jacket. God, they were wearing too many clothes. Steve sucked hard on his neck and he almost didn't register the door opening again.
"Oh my God, are you shitting me?" Tony grabbed Steve by the arms and yanked him away. "Hey, don't snarl at me, pal! Bucky's been looking for you *everywhere.* I mean, seriously, you two can't wait until after the ceremony? You two get to have your sexy-fun-times while the rest of us booze it up."
"Tony…" Steve started.
"No. Out!" Tony pointed to the door, glaring until Steve left. Then he turned to Howard and began straightening his clothes. "So are you ready for this?"
"I think so. I'm not nervous. I was the first time around." Howard grabbed Tony's hands to stop his fussing. "I did love your mom. You know that, right?"
"Fuck, Dad, I know. Look, I was a stupid kid, alright. I didn't want to blame her for leaving, so I blamed you. And… You know what? This is an inappropriate conversation for your bonding day. So, I know you loved Mom and that she loved you and the whole situation was fucked up. Let's change the subject."
"Okay." Howard smiled. "You have the ring?"
Tony patted his pocket. "Yup. Everything's covered."
Howard wasn't paying much attention to the ceremony. He knew the Justice of the Peace was droning on about love and commitment and the bond between Dom and sub and how it was sacred. Mystical. He might have snorted and rolled his eyes, except that Steve was looking at him with such a big smile on his face. Howard couldn’t help but smile back.
Then Tony nudged him and held out the ring. He must have looked startled because the audience tittered. He took it and turned to Steve.
As he slipped the ring on Steve's finger, he said the traditional vows, "With this ring, I promise my love, my devotion, and my obedience. I am yours, body and soul, for forever and a day." Then Howard took a deep breath, sank to his knees, and lifted his chin.
"With this collar," Steve said, buckling it around Howard's neck, "I promise my love, my devotion, and my guiding hand. You are mine, body and soul…" Steve hesitated, then continued, "And I am yours, body and soul, for forever and a day."
Howard smiled and touched the collar before Steve helped him to his feet. "Nice addition," he whispered.
"Thanks." Then Steve leaned over and kissed him, slow and tender and full of promise.
After undressing each other, Steve shoved Howard back on the bed and rummaged through the nightstand, tossing a new bottle of lube and the leather cuffs on the bed.
Howard spread his legs and shook his head. "Please, sir, use the rope."
"You sure? It'll leave marks."
He shuddered and let out a low moan. "Yes, please." They didn't have to hide what they were doing anymore. They didn't have to hide the bruises and abrasions and assorted marks.
Steve put back the cuffs and took out the rope. He tied Howard's wrist to the headboard. "Okay?"
Howard wiggled his fingers and tugged. "Perfect, sir."
Steve smiled and pressed a sweet kiss to his mouth. "Such a good boy."
His eyes fluttered shut and he let out a breathy moan.
"You're so beautiful," Steve said, before kissing a trail down Howard's body, licking his nipples, teasing at his belly button, then sucking his cock.
Howard groaned, arching up into the suck of Steve's hot mouth, losing himself in the pleasure of it. Then he felt Steve's finger, slick, pressing against his hole, and he wanted to tense, he did, but Steve's tongue teased the slit of his cock and… fuck!
It didn't hurt, no, it didn't. But it felt strange, almost uncomfortable.
Steve paused for a moment, letting Howard get used to the feeling, then slowly, carefully, slid the finger in and out, all the while suckling his cock.
"I don't know," he said. "I don't think… I don't think it does—"
And then Steve crooked his finger and hot white pleasure raced through Howard's body and fuck, fuck, fuck, oh fuck! Steve pulled off his cock. "What did you say?"
Howard keened, fucking himself on the finger, because, God, that was fantastic.
Steve laughed and rubbed Howard's hip with his free hand. "It's better with more fingers," Steve said and proceeded to show him how good it could be.
He clenched his hands and rode Steve's fingers, moaning and panting and begging for more, God, he needed more. "Your cock… sir! Please, fuck me. Please, please, please! I'm a good boy, I'm a good boy. I'm your good boy!" He was, he was a good boy. He was Steve's good boy.
"You are, oh, Howard, you're the best boy ever."
Steve pulled out his fingers, but that was all right because something thicker and longer was pushing inside of Howard. He pulled on the rope around his wrists, feeling it bite into his skin as Steve's cock burned a trail up his ass. "Sir!"
"Yeah," Steve moaned. "Oh, yeah. You feel so good, baby. So tight."
Howard wrapped his legs around Steve's waist and urged him to move. And Steve did. Steve gripped Howard's hips and fucked him hard and fast and he knew he would feel the ache of it the next day, maybe even the day after that.
"My Howard. Mine, always mine."
And Howard responded with a yes, always with a yes, until Steve shoved right into him, coming, and all Howard could do was follow. Like a good sub was supposed to.
"You okay?" Steve said, brushing Howard's bottom lip with his thumb. "You were out for a few second there."
Howard nodded, then cleared his throat. "Think so. No, yeah, I'm okay. Gonna be sore tomorrow."
"Yeah," Steve said, obviously pleased. "Don't worry, I'll bring you breakfast in bed."
He smiled and tugged at the rope still tying him to the headboard. "Isn't that my job?"
"Tell you what, the next time you fuck me unconscious, you can bring me breakfast in bed. How does that sound?"