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(If you are reading this on any PAY site this is a STOLEN WORK, the author has NOT Given Permission for it to be here. If you're paying to read it, you're being cheated too because you can read it on Archiveofourown for FREE.)

Good morning. It's 9:00 a.m. The weather in Malibu is fifty-four degrees and sunny with a ten percent chance of precipitation. The surf conditions are workable with knee-to-waist-high lines, but with some long lulls. High tide will be at 12:38 p.m.

Steve woke up and looked around the room before remembering that Tony's house had a voice. "Nine a.m.? Wow, I haven't slept that late since... I don't remember how long." Tony was lying pressed against his side, warm back tight against Steve's belly. It was ... nice. His arm was draped over Tony with his hand at a convenient angle to stroke Tony's stomach, so he did.

Jarvis. It's good to hear Jarvis's voice. Funny though, to hear Jarvis give the morning after wake-up call. Tony was hardly ever there for that. So much easier to hide in the garage until they give up and go away. But...now he belongs to Steve and he can't hide. Doesn't want to hide. Steve will protect him. Steve is touching him now, gentle, lazy strokes over his stomach, up to his chest and then lying flat over the arc reactor. Tony holds his breath a moment, but it's good. Steve doesn't press on it, just... covers it so Tony can feel the warmth of his hand around the edges, where Tony's chest meets the reactor. No one can take it when Steve's hand is there. He's safe. He touches Steve's arm, rubbing little circles on it. "Jarvis usually has a seven a.m. wake-up call." Steve won't mind Tony speaking without permission. He's pretty sure Steve won't mind.

"I guess he thought you could use the rest." Steve brought his hand up to stroke Tony's hair. "You could also use a haircut." Steve pushed Tony's hair out of the way so he could kiss the back of his neck. "And a few good meals."

Tony feels warm all over, not just where Steve is touching him. Steve is looking after him. He turns over to smile into Steve's eyes. They are as clear and kind and blue today as he remembers. "Good morning. I'm very glad you're here." He kisses Steve softly, watching to see if this is right. Steve might not like to have sex before breakfast, although it certainly seems he's ready for it. "Very, very glad. Are you glad I'm here?" Tony moves against Steve, and is pleased by how quickly his body responds. He doesn't have to pretend to be thinking about someone else, somewhere else, sometime else.

Steve smiled and rolled them over with Steve coming to rest on top. Last night he'd discovered how much Tony liked being blanketed by him. "I'm very glad." Steve kissed Tony and lowered himself so he could rub his dick against Tony's, while keeping most of his weight on his elbows and knees. It was an awkward position, requiring concentration and a fair amount of physical effort to maintain. That was all to the good. Tony was fragile in too many ways for Steve to lose his self-control.

"Fuck me?" Tony wants that. He wants to feel Steve inside of him, making every part of Tony his, making it all new and good. Making it clean and joy, not pain and fear.

Steve groaned and shivered. The naked need in Tony's voice nearly undid him. "Not... not yet. I've never... and I won't hurt you." Steve's not sure whether or not he wished that he had done it with someone else. Then he'd know how. But that always felt to him too important, too intimate, to give to someone unless he was committing himself to them. He rubbed against Tony a little harder, feeling the coolness of the chest piece warming, feeling Tony's dick sliding against him, slick then catching, then slick again. "Won't hurt you." He kissed Tony again.

Tony moans and wraps his arms and legs around Steve. "I'll show you. Tell you. You won't hurt me."

"Later. I promise." Steve kissed Tony and whispered in his ear, breath warm and tickling. "You can tell me everything you like. I want you to. I want to do everything that makes you feel good."

Tony gasps and comes, and he's not afraid, not afraid at all even though he's come without permission and he's come before Steve has had his pleasure. Steve is smiling down at him, then Steve closes his eyes and groans, pushes a few more times and there it is, hot and wet splashing against his belly. So good. He smells like Steve. Smells like he belongs to Steve. He dozes off again, while Steve murmurs in his ear how good it was, how sweet Tony is, how much Steve loves him.

***

Steve held Tony in his arms for a few minutes longer waiting for his sleep to deepen, then he got up and brought another blanket. Tony always felt a little cold to him. He was too thin. He was... too breakable. Steve was scared that he'd do something wrong. But there wasn't anyone else for Tony, so Steve was just going to have to step up to the plate. He tucked the blanket lightly around Tony and went for a shower. When he got out there was a set of new clothes in his size lying on the dresser, and a note lying on top. 'Coffee is on.' It was signed 'Pepper.'
Steve dressed and left the bedroom. He paused just outside and said quietly, "Jarvis? If Tony wakes before I get back, tell him I'm in the kitchen."

Jarvis answered just as quietly, "Very well, Captain Rogers."

"Good morning, Steve," Pepper said when he entered the kitchen. She smiled. "Sleep well?"

Steve felt himself blushing. He hadn't thought about it last night, but he and Tony had been rather noisy. "Ah. Yes." He took the mug of coffee she held out to him and sat at the table.

"Thank you."

She sat across from him. "How is he?"

Steve put the mug down and frowned into it. "A little better." He sighed. "Really, about the same. No miracle overnight cure. He kept waking up- never said anything, but you know..." Steve shrugged. "Maybe we should get someone for him to talk to? I mean... a professional?"

Pepper shook her head decisively. "Word would get out. It would destroy Stark Industries, which is already pretty shaky. And before you say my priorities are messed up, you have to think what that would do to Tony. And I really can't see it helping. From what I've seen so far, Tony is only saying what he thinks we... you... want to hear. You could order him to talk to a psychiatrist, but..."

"Yeah." Steve picked up the mug and turned it around in his hands. Then he took a deep breath. "Ok, so, what do you have in mind?"

"We've got to get Tony in shape to handle at least one press conference. I'll hand-pick the reporters, control the questions, but he's got to look...confident."

"That's... you know he can't do it."

"We can put it off for maybe a week. There's a board of directors meeting coming up, and I don't have any power to stop them if they decide to lock Tony out. They already had the idea put in their heads by Stane after Afghanistan. Iron Man, and the promise of new tech from Tony, made them hold off, but their patience has run out."

"A week. Have you looked at him?"

"The barber and tailor are en route. Tony knows how important this is. If we all support him, I think we can do it. If not... well...Tony has assets he can sell, he won't be kicked out on the street. But he won't be able to support his inventions. And he lives for them."

Steve was silent for several minutes, thinking. "All right. I'm going to call Clint and Natasha. They can help, I'm sure."

"Will Fury let them? After all, they work for SHIELD."

"He'll let them." Steve didn't bother to say that Fury would lose Captain America if he didn't.

***

Tony wakes up alone, but before it really sinks in Jarvis tells him that Steve is in the kitchen. Tony sits up and thinks about it. That's not an order, but maybe it's a hint? Tony should meet him in the kitchen. But first he should use the bathroom, shower and dress. Steve wants him to get better, to do things on his own, so Steve won't be angry. It's still difficult getting out of bed and doing things without permission, but the thought that it will please Steve helps him get through it. After he finishes in the bathroom he stares at the clothes in his wardrobe. Business suit? Workshop clothes? Lounging robe? He doesn't know what Steve wants him to do. He stands there for a long time, and then he feels his face getting wet. He can't... he can't decide. He falls to his knees and crawls inside the closet, into the dimness and curls up to cry. He can't. Steve wants him to do this, and he can't.

Captain Rogers, I believe Mr. Stark requires your assistance.

Steve dropped his phone onto the table, cutting Clint off in mid-protest, and ran upstairs. "Tony? TONY! Where are you, are you all..." He saw Tony's foot sticking out of the open closet door. "Tony!" Steve reached into the closet and pulled Tony out. "What's wrong?" He looked Tony all over, but didn't see any new injuries.

"I tried, Steve. I really did." Tony cries so hard his throat is closing up on the words. He's so bad. He can't do it.

Steve picked him up and carried him to the bed. "What did you try to do, Tony?" Steve held Tony on his lap and put his arms around him. "You got up and showered and shaved without me telling you to do it. That was very good." He rubbed Tony's back.

"Was it?" Tony turns his face towards Steve, hoping.

"Yes, it was very good. Don't be upset, Tony. I know you're trying. It will be all right. Look, you go wash your face, and I'll get some clothes for you." Tony had stopped crying, so Steve got him on his feet and gave him a nudge in the direction of the bathroom. "Then we'll go down for breakfast. Do you like french toast? Or would you rather have bacon and eggs?"

Tony stands there, trying to think what he likes. He's not sure. But... something sweet sounds good. "French toast?" he asks, hesitantly, ready to say bacon and eggs if Steve doesn't like that answer.

Steve smiled at him. "Sure, you can have french toast."

***

"Right. You look good," Pepper said after smoothing the shoulders of Steve's black jacket. She handed him a shoulder holster with a gun already in it. "Now put this on under the coat."

"I don't use a gun, Ms. Potts."

"Call me Pepper when we're not in public." Pepper looked over at Tony who was sitting on the couch, not doing anything. "The only way you're going to be able to stick close to Tony constantly without arousing suspicion is in the role of bodyguard. Tony used to have four of them when he went out in public anywhere that wasn't secure. He stopped using them after he built the suit, but now...no one is going to question you being there."

"Yes, I can do that, but I don't need a gun." Steve looked at Tony. He didn't want to frighten Tony.

"You do. You don't have to use it, but if you don't have it, people will start wondering why." Pepper kept holding out the holster until Steve took it.

Steve went over to Tony and knelt beside the couch. "Tony. Can you tell me what you think about me having a gun?"

"Good." Tony looks at the holstered gun and at Steve. It's not difficult to say this even though he's pretty sure it's not what Steve wants to hear, because it's what Steve needs to hear. "You can't bring your shield with you. If... if someone tries to take me... I've never been afraid of guns, Steve. Only of guns in the wrong hands." Tony is trembling. He knows he has to say it. He needs Steve to be able to protect him.

"Can you touch it, Tony?"

Tony nods. He pulls the gun out of the holster, turns his arm and shoots out the window overlooking the pool in one smooth motion. Glass shatters. "See, I can..." Tony looks at Steve's shocked face and carefully puts the gun on the floor. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Please." He covers his chest with both arms and bends over, shaking.

"No, no, Tony, that was all right." Steve pushed the gun aside with his foot and sat on the couch next to Tony. "I'm glad you can use a gun if you have to, to defend yourself. If I'm not able to protect you, I want you to do whatever you have to do to save yourself. That's what I want you to do. I'll have the gun on me, and if you need it, you can get it and use it. That's what I want." Long before Stane, Tony had been a target for kidnappers, of course he had. He's wealthy, and he's high-profile, and instantly recognizable, and he doesn't live like a recluse, although Steve suspected Pepper vetted the host and guest list of every party, charity event, and meeting Tony attended. Probably with bodyguards in tow.

Tony relaxes. "I was a good boy?"

"Yes, you were very good. You don't have to shoot anything else to prove it to me, though." Steve smiled and patted Tony on the back.

"I'll get the window replaced in a few hours," Pepper said as she opened her phone.

"Are you sure the glazier has such a large, custom-shaped, pane in stock?" Steve asked.

Pepper shrugged. "This isn't the first time Mr. Stark has done a little instant remodeling. Why don't you ask Happy to take you and Tony for a drive? Get a little fresh air."

Steve could take a hint. He picked up the gun, took off his jacket and made himself into a bodyguard, complete with mirrored sunglasses. He felt a bit silly, but no worse than the first time he'd put on the Captain America costume. "Come on, Tony." Steve ruffled Tony's hair. "I like your haircut."

Tony grins and gets up. "I clean up pretty."

"Yeah, you do." Steve put an arm around Tony's shoulders and took him to the garage. "When we come back, you can tell me about your cars. And the motorcycles."

"You like motorcycles? I can buy you motorcycles. Oh, oh, I can build you motorcycles." Tony is happy. Steve says he's good.