The first time Steve takes Tony’s shirt off, he isn’t entirely sure what to do with the arc reactor jutting out from his breastplate, the gentle rise and fall of it when Tony breathes or the way it glows even in the sunlight. He’d seen it a hundred times before that, he knows, but up close it’s different, a little more intimate when he stops to admire the way it’s fixed into Tony’s chest. The skin around it puckers slightly, like the seam of fabric pulled taut where his body has come to accept the metal casing, and Steve’s fingers fuss with the buttons of Tony’s shirt while he tries to decide what to do next.
Tony doesn’t mind Steve’s hesitance, his breathing just a little shallow, looking at Steve’s eyes to his mouth and back up. He’s not talking, just studying, because that’s what Tony does best, trying to anticipate, calculate, figure out all the variables. His hands on Steve’s waist keep him there, rooted to the spot, in case Steve has a sudden change of plans.
“What do you think, Cap?” says Tony when he finally speaks. The husky curl at the edge of his words makes Steve dart his tongue across his bottom lip, a habit he hadn’t picked up until meeting Tony six months ago. There are a lot of things Steve didn’t do, or think about doing, or plan on doing, until he met Tony. Like kissing him and undressing him and crawling into his lap, to trap Tony in his seat on the foot of his bed in the penthouse suite atop Stark Tower, but that’s neither here nor there.
“This is what keeps you alive?” Steve asks, although he already knows the answer. He already knows about roadside ambush and the shrapnel clawing its way into Tony’s heart and the three months spent in the cave. It doesn’t mean that seeing it up close isn’t just a little humbling, in the face of things.
“You can touch it, you know. And, well, anything else you want, while we’re on the topic.” Tony kind-of smirks at that, the way he does when he thinks he’s right, which is most of the time. “It doesn’t bite.”
Steve doesn’t really need the direction but he takes it anyway, slipping the button-up from Tony’s shoulders and leaving it to the floor. He sits up straighter, brings his knees closer together around Tony’s hips as Steve leans forward to kiss Tony again with closed eyes and little nips of teeth. Palms open on Tony’s chest to graze his fingers around the edges of the reactor’s shell, warm as Tony’s skin and glowing cool at the center through the smoothness of its plating. He can feel the quiet whirring of the internal hardware, like a heartbeat but faster, stronger, pulsing under his fingertips, every bit of it alive and startling and so perfectly Tony.
The hands on Steve’s waist move to grasp, leaving ghosting imprints of firm fingers in Steve’s hipbones as Tony opens to dip his tongue into Steve’s mouth with a pleased little sound.
“What do you want?” Leaning away, Tony finds the spot on Steve’s neck, just beneath his jaw, that practice tells him to bite down on if he wants Steve good and noisy. For it, Steve sucks in a breath and tries not to indulge Tony.
“Tony,” Steve breathes out, gripping at the edge of Tony’s shoulder, “c’mon.”
“No, you tell me.”
They’ve come to this point plenty of times in the past few months, on Steve’s sofa or in Tony’s workshop, just a tangle of hands and lips and teeth. Steve always found himself half-undressed, in Tony’s lap or pinning him down in a (somewhat unnecessary, but always appreciated) show of strength, before something in his head got in the way. That nagging little voice that said too fast and too much and you have no idea what you’re doing here, that still felt like the skinny little boy from Brooklyn that the girls never danced with. It had him sidestepping and making excuses as he peeled himself away from Tony, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand to try to smear the bruises away before anybody noticed how flush and swollen his mouth was.
Tony always protested, and rather loudly, but never pushed or prodded, just letting Steve make his escape until he came back again. Now, perched on the foot of Tony’s bed, a hand still splayed over Tony’s heart, there was nowhere left for Steve to run.
“I want – this.” The words feel a little awkward, like they were stuck to the roof of Steve’s mouth, but he gets them out. He nudges Tony back against the mattress, wants to get his bearings, take a little control of the situation. “All of it.”
“I assume you mean naked,” Tony quips, even as he rests on his elbows per instruction. “Otherwise I’m going to die of blue-balls here, Cap, and that’s the least dignified of all the ways I’d planned to go out.”
“Yes, Tony, I mean naked. And I’m pretty sure you’ll make it this time.”
“That’s easy for you to say. Did people even have sex in 1945?”
Ignoring the rest of that tangent Steve straddles Tony’s hips, pulling his own t-shirt over his head and resting his hands on the flat of Tony’s belly. Skating over the dips of ribs and the tension of muscle, up Tony’s chest, and it’s Tony who sucks in a breath this time as Steve studies the swell of his diaphragm and the contours of his hipbones. The length of his arms and his slender wrists and the fine bones of his fingers, the nicks and the scars under his ribcage, the marks on his chest from the wounds that set all of this in motion. Some old, some new, each a tiny point of fascination in contrast to the clean white expanse of Steve’s back and torso, even when the scars still stung where his skin didn’t show. Steve licks his bottom lip again and gives in to the curiosity as he leans forward to kiss Tony’s mouth, his chin, jaw and neck, fingers tracing the outline of the reactor. It thrums like his blood pumps and feels good and real and yes, Steve tells himself.
Yes, he can do this.
The hand that finds its way into his hair tells Steve he must be doing something right as he dips his head, drawing a line of kisses and bites down Tony’s neck to the reactor’s base. He takes a deep breath and closes his eyes and presses his lips to the glowing plate before finally, slowly, darting his tongue across it. It tingles under his mouth like Steve imagines it would, all power and electricity, and the sounds that Tony makes when he circles the reactor is almost too much to contend with. Opening his eyes he can see Tony’s face above the reactor’s unnatural blue glow, the darkness of his eyes, the wetness of his mouth made slack around a flutter of breath. The hand in his hair tightens and Steve can’t help the want that pools in his hips and the punch in his gut when Tony wrenches him up to kiss him again, all spit and teeth and promise.
“You want this?” Tony all but growls into Steve’s mouth, and it feels a little like a challenge with the way he’s tugging at Steve’s hair.
“Yes,” Steve breathes out, doesn’t back down, doesn’t let himself find excuses.
“You trust me?”
“Then tell me, Steve. Tell me how.”
“I just, I want—” Steve’s not even thinking anymore when he reaches for Tony’s belt, jerking it open and pulling it free. He opens Tony’s trousers, zips them down, eager, ready for what he’s fumbled through and postponed for the last few months. The words just fall out of his mouth then, fond little nothings strung together in half-formed thoughts and things he can’t quite put his finger on. “I want this and I want you, Tony, all of you, whatever you want.”
“I didn’t ask you what I wanted.” That’s definitely challenge in Tony’s voice now. He sits up, something a little dangerous in the line of his mouth and his hands palming around the swell of Steve’s ass through his jeans, grabbing hold of Steve and dragging him forward, chest-to-chest. “I told you to tell me what you need.”
“Tony, damnit, just—”
It all runs together in a jumble, the kissing and the fighting and the sex Steve’s imagined but never really put into any kind of context, beyond what he knows of Tony’s body. The weight of him, the smell, the sinewy strength of lean muscle and skin pulled taut over tendon and bone. It’s just so stupidly, spectacularly difficult to put into words when Steve can’t help but wonder if that hunk of metal and glass will glow even brighter with his mouth on Tony’s dick or Tony buried in him to the hilt. And he’s wondered, more than he would like to admit to or could say aloud.
So instead Steve doesn’t try, because he’s not making a lot of progress anyway, and just kisses Tony until neither of them can breathe. Bodies pressed together, he rocks against Tony, slowly, firmly, filthy in a way Steve isn’t accustomed to but comes so easily, a chemical reaction to everything Tony is and does. Hips slotting together, rubbing through fabric and denim in the heat of it, the wetness gathering sticky between them, all grunts and murmurs and skin on skin. When Steve finally pulls away, he tells Tony what they both need to hear.
“Shut up and do it.”
Tony knows, even if Steve doesn’t say it, reaching for the front of Steve’s jeans to open them and pull him out of his briefs in one long, smooth tug. Steve pushes Tony back flat on the mattress, still rutting against him, trying to keep up with Tony. Shoving his trousers down to get a hand around Tony’s dick, curving up against his stomach, flushed at the head and already smeared with the precome dribbling from it, but Tony doesn’t let him. Instead Tony grips Steve’s ass with one hand and licks his other palm to close it around the both of them, cuffing them together, stroking them together.
It’s something Steve’s thought about more than once, pressed against the sofa or straddling Tony’s lap, fascinated by the way they could fit together and how it would feel. Now, panting between Tony’s teeth, Steve rides out the rhythm that Tony starts, quick and wet and broken, thrusting against each other, making a mess. He presses a hand to the reactor in Tony’s chest, feeling the flurry of it, the glow beneath his fingers, his other at Tony’s wrist. Not to control it because Tony’s not giving that up for anything; just to have something to hold on to. Just something to tether himself, when Tony’s breathing is ragged and his hips are snapping up to meet Steve’s and it’s better than Steve ever thought it could be.
“You don’t want to tell me what you need, baby? Fine, but I’ll get it out of you.” Tony is murmuring against Steve’s mouth between kisses and bites, such sweetness and obscene promises that Steve can barely keep up. “I’ll make you tell me, once and for all, I’m gonna open you up and figure it out myself, and you’re gonna love it so much when I do.”
It’s all that Steve wants, exactly what he wants, every inch and scar and scrap of metal. When he comes in it’s with three short, hard spurts across Tony’s chest. Steve expects to be embarrassed, coming so quickly, like a fumbling teenager, but before he has the chance to be Tony is kissing him again, holding him tightly and telling him, “That’s a promise.”
For it, Steve inexplicably – unashamedly – smiles.
“I’ll hold you to it, then.”