“You alright?” Tony leaned in the doorway of the tiny spare room in Clint’s house (Clint’s house?!?!), crossing his arms over his chest.
Steve shrugged; he was sitting on the bed, half out of his uniform, the jacket Tony made him lying behind him, star glinting yellow in the light from the lamp on the bedside table. “I’m fine.”
Tony frowned, mouth twisting to one side, trying to catch Steve’s eye. He was tired, that much was clear. Tired and sad. Steve had seen something back there, something like Tony had when he’d retrieved the scepter. A pang shot through his stomach as the image of Steve lying broken and beaten, gasping his last gurgling breaths flashed across Tony’s mind again. He saw it all the time now, whenever he looked at Steve, finally seeing how fragile he was in this world that he, Tony, had created.
“So how about Barton?” he finally asked, pushing off from the doorway and stepping into the room, going to the little dresser and looking at, but not really seeing the pictures and knick-knacks decorating it. “Family man. Not my first choice but--”
“Tony, shut up.”
Tony stopped and turned, the hollowness of Steve’s gaze hitting him square in the chest. “I’m sorry, am I bothering you?”
He regretted it as soon as it was out, watching Steve’s expression harden. Cap stood, looking even bigger in that little room, so out of place with the quilted bedspread and white curtains and the sound of crickets leaking in from the window. It hurt for some reason, a deep ache in Tony’s chest that had nothing to do with phantom pain from the missing arc reactor.
Steve moved around him and closed the door, not answering, his back tense beneath the blue under armour. When he turned around, he leaned against the door and looked at Tony down his nose, just like the first time he had ever looked at Tony.
“The last voice I ever thought I’d hear back in 1945 was Peggy Carter’s.” Steve crossed his arms and tipped his head back to rest against the door too, gaze moving from Tony up to the ceiling. “She didn’t want me to die. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to live and love her. . .”
Steve paused, his adam’s apple bobbing, and Tony watched him, wide eyed. He knew about Peggy and Steve; it was a story he’d been hearing his whole life from Howard, and he’d known better than to ask Peggy about it. And he’d certainly never discussed her with Steve. That stuff had been taboo between them, ever since-- Since Pepper. They’d known better than to bring old flames up, especially when they were both working so hard to forget. Tony took a faltering step toward him before Steve dropped his gaze back down to Tony’s.
“In that plane, I promised her I’d live and she wanted me to meet her at this bar we liked in London. So she could teach me to dance. We both-- we knew I wasn’t going to make it but--” Steve’s voice hitched and Tony took another step in.
“Steve. . .” Tony stopped when Steve shook his head, putting a hand over his eyes.
“I was there, Tony,” Steve continued, his voice barely more than a whisper, rough and shaking. “I was there with her today. She was wearing red lipstick and that old perfume-- and I-- I--” He brought his other hand up to his face, muffling a sob, those big shoulders caving in.
Tony closed the distance in two steps, his hands going to Steve’s wrists, thumbs automatically running little circles around the bumps of bone beneath his skin. Steve jumped at Tony’s touch but leaned into it, letting out a heavy breath before relaxing his arms and letting them fall from his face. Tony tightened his jaw at the tear tracks they revealed, keeping his hands on Steve’s.
“I thought I was past this,” Steve said, voice hoarse, not meeting Tony’s gaze. “I haven’t thought about that dance in-- in a long time.” He brought a hand back up to wipe under one eye, his tears leaving little clean places in the grime on his skin.
Tony brought his hand up, pushing some of Steve’s hair off his forehead. “It wasn’t real--”
“I know it wasn’t real, Tony,” Steve snapped and Tony took his hand away. Steve shook his head, running a hand down his face and huffing a humorless laugh. “I thought I was dead-- I wanted to be dead and-- and stay with her.”
I saw you die, Tony said in his head, feeling like his lungs had vanished and left a gaping hole at Steve’s words. You, Clint, Bruce-- All of them. And you blamed me. Because I couldn’t keep you safe.
But Tony didn’t say any of that, unable to hear Steve say he didn’t need Tony to keep him safe. Instead, Tony leaned up and kissed him, cupping Steve’s jaw gently. When Steve didn’t move, Tony pulled back and rested his forehead against the other man’s, almost having to tiptoe to do it.
“I don’t want you to be dead,” he whispered around the lump in his throat, squeezing his eyes shut, wishing he could make Steve understand, show him how afraid he was. “I really don’t want that, Steve. I want-- I want you here. With me.”
Tony felt Steve shift against him, moving to put his hands on Tony’s hips and slide them around to the small of his back, pulling him close. His cheeks were still damp when he buried his face in the crook of Tony’s neck and Tony slid his arms up over Steve’s shoulders, cradling the back of his head in one hand.
They stayed like that for a long time, just holding each other, Tony’s fingers playing with Steve’s hair. He smelled like stale sweat and smoke. Tony could feel Steve’s heartbeat, slow like a drum, against his chest. The reconstructed skin had suffered so much nerve damage that he couldn’t feel light touches or heat, but he could feel that much, resonating in his fake sternum. Tony turned his head, kissing Steve’s neck over his pulse and he heard Steve sigh, shifting in Tony’s arms and pulling back to look at him.
Steve’s blue eyes were clear now, his face relaxed but unreadable as he watched Tony, gaze flicking across his face. Tony blinked, feeling himself get a little warm under the strength of that look. He knew that look, knew exactly what it meant. And then Steve was kissing him, steady and firm, all traces of those moments of weakness gone.
Tony wasn’t exactly sure when this started. Sometime after Pepper left and went back to California. Around the time when Tony realized it wasn’t just a break and she’d really walked away from him and his problems for good. They talked sometimes, they had to; after all, she was still running Stark Industries for him. He knew she loved him and he loved her but, well. It couldn’t work out with him, could it? That was how she’d phrased it, once.
It wasn’t a question with Steve, Tony thought as Steve gripped his hips hard enough to bruise, crushing Tony to his chest. Tony answered by biting Steve’s lower lip and tugging the short hair at the back of his head. Steve groaned into his mouth, the sound sending sparks through Tony’s stomach.
It wasn’t a question because he understood. Steve knew what it meant to be afraid of your own memories- he knew what it meant to run away from it for even just hours at a time, and that was what they did. They’d been doing it for a while now.
Steve manhandled him over to the bed, which really wasn’t big enough for the two of them, but it didn’t matter. The back of Tony’s legs hit the edge of the mattress, forcing him down and Steve pushed him up the bed without pause, kneeling over him to keep from breaking the kiss. His thigh slid between Tony’s, making him gasp at the abruptness and the sudden pressure. Tony’s fingers fumbled with the hem of Steve’s shirt, pushing it up and getting his hands on all that perfect skin, Steve’s stomach twitching involuntarily under his touch. The other man pulled back, stripping the shirt off over his head and leaning back in to kiss Tony again, rougher this time, hands already going for the front of Tony’s jeans.
This was the language they both spoke, their middle ground; they both knew Tony would never love Steve as much as he loved Pepper and Steve couldn’t love Tony as much as he loved Peggy. But they needed this, more than it had anything to do with lust or love or whatever. They needed each other and this was what they knew when it came to need. Tony’s hips twitched up at Steve’s touch, gasping into his mouth when Steve’s fingers found their way past Tony’s fly. Tony shifted under him, lifting his hips to pull his pants and boxers down around his thighs, moaning when Steve didn’t hesitate to wrap his hand around Tony’s cock.
Tony wasn’t sure if it was Steve’s time in the army or what, but getting jerked off by Captain America was like putting your foot all the way down in a Ferrari-- zero to sixty in under three seconds. Tony stifled a louder cry, feeling Steve’s mouth leave his and move down his jaw, his neck, Steve’s free hand tugging Tony’s shirt up his stomach until Tony leaned up and yanked it off, throwing it over the edge of the bed.
“Gah-- Fuck, Steve--” Tony gasped out, arching his back against the bed, trying to keep his voice down when Steve changed his grip and slowed, biting at Tony’s collarbone.
“There’s-- ah-- Back pocket--” Tony raised his hips again to let Steve get the condom and little packet of lube out of his jeans and Steve’s laugh ghosted Tony’s neck.
“Where’d you even get this?” Steve asked, voice rough but he was grinning slightly as he moved to help Tony get his pants off.
Tony kicked his jeans to the floor before lying down again and putting his hands behind his head. “Quinjet first-aid kit. You know, for emergencies.”
Steve laughed again, raising his eyebrows and meeting Tony’s gaze as he ripped open the lube. “You have emergencies like this often?”
“With you, I do,” Tony countered, the little swell of pride he was feeling for making Steve laugh cut short by Steve’s finger pressing against his hole.
“Hmm.” Steve eased a second finger in. He was rushing things, and it hurt, but Tony was okay with it. Steve needed him, needed this, a lot more than Tony needed to bitch about it. And god damn if it didn’t feel good to be needed. It always did.
The third finger followed and Steve took that a little slower, at least. Tony chewed his lip, biting back a moan when Steve pulled his hand away, watching him work quickly to get his uniform pants open and rucked down, deftly putting the condom on and leaning over Tony, bracing a hand above Tony’s shoulder.
Tony gritted his teeth, letting out a long breath as Steve pushed into him. He stopped when he was hilted in Tony, waiting for him to adjust before moving. The first few thrusts were slow and forgiving and Tony reached for Steve’s free hand between them, lacing his fingers into the other man’s and making Steve pin it against the mattress. Steve whined low in his throat, and picked up his pace, dropping his head into the crook of Tony’s neck.
He groaned Steve’s name, squeezing his eyes shut, reaching between them to touch himself, Steve’s cock hitting that place inside him that made him see stars with how good it felt. Steve moaned again, his breath coming in short bursts, and he raised his head to kiss Tony, rough and urgent. Tony answered it, their teeth crashing together, and Steve swatted Tony’s hand out of the way so he could jerk Tony off instead.
Tony arched up off the mattress, gasping into Steve’s mouth, his now free hand running through Steve’s hair, holding him in the kiss, Steve’s thrusts getting faster and more erratic. His grip on Tony tightened and Tony’s hips jerked, out of rhythm with Steve’s, their movements never quite on the same wavelength.
“Christ-- Fuck-- Steve-- I’m--” Tony panted against Steve’s lips-- nonsense to keep him from yelling anything. Steve stroked him three more times, rough, hard pulls, and Tony spilled over Steve’s fist, his moans muffled by the other man’s mouth.
Steve broke the kiss, resting his forehead against Tony’s, breathing hard as he thrust into him, bedframe creaking slightly each time.
“Come on-- ah-- God, you’re so fucking hot--” Tony whispered into the space between them, listening to Steve’s ragged breathing, his movements dragging the few remaining sparks of Tony’s orgasm out. “You like fucking me don’t you, I like it when you fuck me Steve, I really do-- like the way you feel inside me-- Come on, Steve-- God--”
Steve let out a moan that was a little more like a sob, crushing Tony’s hand in his, hips jerking forward a few more times before he stilled against Tony, whole body shaking with his release. Tony let out a sigh and relaxed against the bed, his hand sliding out of Steve’s hair and running down his back. He shuddered when Steve pulled out of him, and kept his eyes closed, listening to Steve take his pants off, zippers and buckles jingling. The light switched off and Tony felt the warm press of Steve’s naked body next to his.
This was what he-- Tony-- needed, Tony thought, as Steve threw his arm across Tony’s wrecked chest, lying half on top of him in the dark. Steve’s heartbeat thumped steadily against Tony’s side and he smiled, turning his head to where he knew Steve was looking at him. Tony leaned in and kissed him, Steve meeting him halfway so he didn’t miss. The kiss lingered, slow and lazy, Steve’s thumb running absent circles against Tony’s upper arm.
Eventually, Steve broke away to yawn. “I’m glad I didn’t die in 1945,” he said, his voice already thick with sleep.
“Me too.” Tony stared up at the ceiling, feeling Steve’s breath against his cheek, just slightly warmer than the breeze coming through the window. Tomorrow, they’d have to step out of this room and face the world alone, but right now, in Clint’s safe house, Steve was all that mattered.