“They look good,” Tony’s voice called out from behind him as he watched the replay of this morning’s training session. “Not us-good, but good. Like Avengers Lite.”
“What are you even doing here, Tony?” Steve asked, too tired to muster much in the way of surprise. He turned in his chair just enough to see Tony leaning against the doorway, wearing one of those strange t-shirts that always left Steve at a loss as to whether they were meant to be ironic or just some other kind of armor he didn’t understand.
Tony ignored the question and walked over to stand behind Steve’s chair, bracing his hands along the edge of the back as if he could keep Steve in place, keep the focus on the team and talk of tactics and pretend the gulf between them was distance and a roster of names.
“Can’t an interested investor check in on—okay, okay,” Tony amended quickly as Steve shoved out of the chair and stood up so quickly it wobbled between them, spinning on its base out of Tony’s grip.
“You shouldn’t be here,” Steve reminded him, the words coming out sharper than he meant them to be. As he did, he could see something flicker across Tony’s face before he looked away. It was the same calculating, assessing look he’d seen aimed at him over a woodpile, and he liked it even less now.
“Yeah, I got that part when you told me that I should go back to Pepper, who, by the way, says ‘hi’ and that she doesn’t farm,” Tony ground out.
“I didn’t say—“ Steve started, then stopped himself. He closed his eyes for a moment and breathed out heavily, then forced his posture to relax. By the little huff of a laugh Tony let out, he wasn’t doing a very good job of it. What was it about Tony that could get him so wound up so fast? It was like the two of them had no idle setting. They were stopped or someone had their foot to the floor and there was no in between. “I said Pepper might be better for you. At least fights with her don’t tend to involve structural damage.” God, he hated how he sounded, petty and bitter. Hurt.
“You lied, Tony. You went behind my back with Ultron and then—then you did it again with Vision! And you said it was because you couldn’t trust me? How am I supposed to react to that?” Steve demanded roughly, eyes narrowing as Tony opened his mouth to object. Steve cut him off abruptly, shook his head and stalked towards the door. “You know what? Forget it. Just—“ Go. He wanted to say it, but the word wouldn’t come out. He had told Tony he would miss him, but he’d told himself that building this, this new team, would be enough to fill whatever space was left by Tony’s absence. He wasn’t sure now if he’d been lying more to himself or Tony.
“It was never about not trusting you, Steve. I didn’t mean—look, when I said that—fuck. You—you see the world how it should be, how it could be, if we’d all just—be better at it. At this. And we need that. I need that. I can’t be the one that takes that away from you, I can’t, but, God, Steve, there are things out there that are going to come here and kill us, and we aren’t enough to stop them!” Tony shouted, hands gesturing wide, then gripping the back of the chair again, keeping it from spinning or keeping himself still, Steve wasn’t sure.
“You’re asking me to watch you die because it’s safer that way. I know Ultron was a mistake. Huge. I kind of got that around the time he Wile E. Coyote’d a city,” Tony bit out, all venom and self-loathing now, and Steve knew enough from the news reports to hear hours of hearings and stacks of subpoenas in those words. It was all Steve could do to bite back something to soothe that, to tell him it was going to be okay, they would figure this out, even though he didn’t have answers today any more than he had then. He should have been next to Tony for it though. He wasn’t sure which one of them he’d been punishing by hiding up here and calling it building something when each day was a step further away from what he wanted.
“But you want to solve this with just us, and we are not going to be enough, Steve,” Tony was saying, as if plucking thoughts from Steve’s mind. “We are going to lose if we do it that way—hell, you know that! And maybe we will anyway, but it isn’t going to be because we didn’t try everything possible to stop it from happening, and if that means I end up fucking up over and over again, then so be it. That’s on me, and you can’t handle that, then fine. Walk away. Or hole up here and do exactly the same thing we’ve been doing, but when whatever is coming comes, do not think for one fucking minute that I’m going to watch this world burn, that I’m going to—that I’m going to see you die, and think there was anything left undone that I could have tried to stop that from happening.”
Steve wasn’t sure which one of them moved first, just that he’d never been able to pull himself far enough away from Tony when they were apart, and he sure as hell couldn’t do it when they were this close, when Tony was standing here, asking Steve not to hate him because he couldn’t be the guy who weighed the consequences of failing to do something against the risk of trying. He’d known that about Tony since the moment he read his file, and he’d seen him succeed and fail, both spectacularly, but he’d never seen him stop, and maybe Steve needed a little of that, too.
He felt Tony’s mouth open under his, pliant and hot, some kind of needy, keening sound coming from one of them, electrifying the air, and when he pulled away long enough to take a breath, it was warm with Tony’s own. “I missed you,” Steve admitted hoarsely, looking down at Tony’s wide, brown eyes, dark with want and too wide, soft at the edges instead of the usual slant to them, because Steve had caught him unguarded for a moment. Tony always expected the least from others and the most from himself, and it killed Steve that sometimes, that was all he could seem to give him. It was truer than he had let himself admit before now.
He had missed this, missed having Tony in his arms, missed hearing him laugh and tease and challenge and argue, missed making Tony his world and being Tony’s in return. It was almost too much sometimes, the scales always dangerously close to unbalanced between them, because Tony would give and give and let Steve take and call himself complete because Steve was, and that could be close to enough for Tony if Steve let it. There was the easy way to love Tony, Steve knew, and the hard way, where you didn’t let him pour everything into you and call your happiness his own. It was just hard to see the line sometimes, until you were already so far past it, you couldn’t go back.
Steve carded his hands through Tony’s hair, breathing out a long rush of air against his cheek as he felt Tony relax against him, the hands that were clutching the back of his uniform unclenching, then rubbing up and down in slow, practiced motions.
“I missed you,” Steve repeated, harder, more insistently than before, stepping forward as he did, pushing Tony back the few paces so he was pressed against the office wall, one of those inspirational posters quoting some pithy phrase about leadership while an eagle soared over mountains framed next to his head. A gift from Tony, Steve recalled, then wondered that he’d kept it, let alone moved it to the new facility, except that there really wasn’t anything to wonder about.
“Show me,” Tony ground out as he thrust his hips against the juncture of Steve’s thighs, letting him feel how hard he was already, sending a spike of desire through Steve’s gut, pooling warm, low in his belly. “Show me how much you missed me, Cap. I want to feel it.” Steve wasn’t immune to the challenge there, sparking behind Tony’s eyes, whatever surprise that may have been there a moment earlier erased, something darker and unyielding in its place.
Tony’s hands worked the zippers and buckles on Steve’s training uniform probably faster than even he could have. Perks of designing it, he assumed, then felt an odd mix of want and a strange, chagrined sort of pleasure at the idea of Tony making this for him and thinking about safety and utility and how to get it off him in the most efficient way possible. A moment later, he felt cool air wisp over his heated skin, and he dipped his shoulders enough for Tony to shrug the uniform off him and push it down, past his waist, letting his fingers follow the rough material over Steve’s body until they gripped Steve’s hips where the bone carved out against the taut skin there. He could feel Tony tracing the line of it, from the curve of his waist, slanting down towards where Steve’s cock jutted out between them.
Tony didn’t touch him there, though. Instead, he let his hands continue to wander down, cupping Steve’s balls, rolling them between his palm and thumb as they tightened underneath his touch. Steve sucked in a harsh breath and braced a hand against the wall between Tony’s head and the obnoxious poster hard enough to send it rocking against the drywall. Tony just raised his eyebrows and smirked with what was clearly satisfaction. Steve bent his head and captured Tony’s mouth in his, slanting his lips over Tony’s, feeling the curve give way to Steve’s tongue, the kiss turning hungry and hard as he felt Tony’s tongue slide the length of his and push into his mouth, sweeping deep, the flattening against Steve’s, pushing back, making it a battle for a moment because he knew Steve liked to win.
Steve groaned into Tony’s mouth when he felt one of Tony’s hands circle his length, lightly at first, then with enough pressure for Steve to really feel it. He thrust into the ring of Tony’s hand, the familiar rough burn of skin on skin curling his hand into a fist against the wall next to Tony’s head, the other moving to the waist of Tony’s pants with far less coordination than he would have liked. He felt Tony’s mouth form a slight grin against his own at his efforts, and he made himself tear his mouth away long enough to look down to see what he was doing, breath echoing in the room in sharp pants. Tony took pity on him enough to at least toe off his shoes while Steve finally managed to undo Tony’s belt and work the zipper on the front of Tony’s slacks down while Tony toed his shoes off and stepped out of his pants. Tony dropped his hands from Steve long enough to pull his shirt over his head, tossed it to the floor in one practiced motion, one hand immediately going back to stroking Steve’s cock, while the other cupped Steve’s jaw and guided his mouth back down to Tony’s.
“Pocket,” Tony said out of the side of his mouth. Steve would like to deny the amount of time it took for him to register that and exactly what Tony meant, but it wasn’t until Tony took Steve’s hand and placed it over the front pocket of his pants that Steve figured out that there was something for him to do. He dug his fingers in, earning a hiss from Tony, and found the small tube, then pushed Tony’s pants and boxers down over his hips and past the curve of his ass. Tony kicked them off the rest of the way, completely unselfconscious about being naked, pressed up against a wall and holding Steve’s cock in his hand where it was leaking fluid over his fingers where Tony was tracing his thumb up and down the slit and stroking along the large vein with his fingers, using the pre-come to ease the path.
Steve unscrewed the cap from the tube, promptly dropped the cap, then grimaced as Tony snickered into his shoulder, nipping lightly at the skin there. “Supersoldier reflexes, right?” Tony teased. “God, I missed you, too.” Steve stopped his frantic motions and looked at Tony, hair damp and sticking to his forehead, a fine sheen of sweat lighting his skin, mouth swollen from Steve’s kisses and more beautiful than Steve had any right to. “So damn much, Steve.”
Steve let his head sink to Tony’s shoulder, rocking his forehead back and forth against the hardness of Tony’s collarbone, then pressing his mouth there as he wrapped his arms under Tony’s, winding them up Tony’s back and pulling the other man’s chest to his. He heard the small hitch of breath from Tony, then felt him shudder once and go nearly limp. After a moment, Tony’s hands snaked around Steve’s waist until they fit together, intimate, yes, but it already felt like something had shifted. It might have been both of them.
“This is never going to work if we keep using each other to punish ourselves,” Steve choked out against the skin of Tony’s neck, half a plea, half a promise. Tony moved his hands from Steve’s waist up to cup both sides of Steve’s jaw, angling Steve’s head so they were facing each other.
“Make me feel it,” Tony said with quiet determination.
Steve took the tube from one hand and squeezed a liberal amount into the other, then ran it up and down his cock several times. He braced his hand against the wall again, casting a quick glance at the picture, now tipped at a precarious angle. He wrapped his other arm around Tony’s waist and lifted in one swift motion.
“Jesus—fuck—“ Tony stuttered out as the breath left him in a whoosh.
“Wrap your legs around me,” Steve ordered. Tony didn’t need any more encouragement than that, locking his feet into the small of Steve’s back with a grunt. Steve squeezed the rest of the contents of the tube into his hand and tossed it to the side, then pressed a slick finger between the curve of Tony’s ass, feeling the muscles clench, then relax as Tony shifted against him. Steve traced the rim of Tony’s entrance and felt Tony’s head hit his shoulder with a soft thunk, his back bowing as Steve pressed his finger in to the knuckle, then worked it deeper, coating the walls of Tony’s channel while he waited for him to loosen.
Steve withdrew his finger and worked it in a few more times, until he felt Tony’s body stop working against the invasion. He added a second finger, which slid in easier this time, and used his thumb to rub up and down over the delicate skin below Tony’s hole, pressing just hard enough where he knew Tony could feel it as he kept up the motion with his fingers.
Tony moaned lowly and tossed his head back, eyes half-closed, mouth hanging open, looking absolutely wrecked. Steve would never get tired of seeing him like this, completely unabashed, unashamed, awash in pleasure, trusting Steve completely. Steve took his time stretching Tony before finally adding a third finger, pumping them deep this time, making Tony’s eyes snap open, the whites nearly gone, dark depths watching Steve like he was one of Tony’s machines he could take apart and piece back together, better and stronger, and maybe that wasn’t far from the truth.
He got one hand around Tony’s waist and the other under one arm and around his back, then lifted to find the right angle. Tony tightened his legs around Steve’s waist, his knees digging into Steve’s sides, and for a moment, as the head of his cock caught against the rim of Tony’s entrance, then slid down and in, Steve lost his breath, the air rushing out of him as Tony sank down on him, taking him all the way in until he was buried to the hilt. Tony hadn’t looked away from him the whole time, the slight moue that his mouth formed and the way his nostrils flared and eyes glittered, sharp and vaguely predatory, the only change to his expression.
Steve had to fight his lungs to work, to remember to breath when he wanted to just feel, just revel in the hot, tight sheath that held him and not think of anything else. “Breathe, Captain,” Tony whispered, bringing his hand up to cup the side of Steve’s head, his thumb tracing the line of Steve’s cheekbone, back and forth, back and forth, and the rhythm was enough to break whatever spell held him. The air burned as he took it in, too much at once, almost cold as it rushed into his body. Cold, and Tony was warmth and heat and fire, and he wanted more of that.
Steve bent at the knee and lifted Tony enough to withdraw almost completely, then braced his hand by Tony’s head again, eyes shifting quickly to Tony’s face. Tony nodded, face already slackening, and Steve pushed up, seating himself fully again. Tony’s body juddered as Steve’s thrust found its mark, his cock bobbing between them spurting fluid.
“Nguh,” Tony groaned, his head falling back until he was staring at what must be the world’s most fascinating ceiling tiles. Steve withdrew again and repeated the motion, quickly finding a rhythm of long, slow strokes. Tony’s groans changed to broken, needy grunts as Steve quickened the pace, slamming hard into Tony, lifting Tony’s body up and down with each thrust to make sure he had the right angle. He took his arm off the wall and wrapped it around Tony as his strokes became sloppy, using his other hand, still slick from the lube, to stroke Tony’s cock, already a deep red with strain.
“Jus—ugh—jus’ there—fuck—Steve—“ Tony slurred, eyes wide, mouth trying to form words that he couldn’t quite seem to find. Tony shuddered and clenched, back curving into a bow, his neck cording with the effort as he came into Steve’s hand. Steve felt the slick walls of Tony’s channel go from loose to tight around his cock as Tony’s whole body clamped down around Steve in quick, jerky motions as Tony spent himself. Steve felt his own body tighten in response and pushed Tony’s back against the wall, using it for leverage and bracing both hands under Tony’s arms to keep him upright as the other man went languid. Steve pushed in and out a few more times, hips snapping hard against the slick, wet heat of Tony’s ass, and then he was coming so hard the edges of his vision darkened. His thrusts became sloppy, and he felt the strength leave his legs as if the serum was being leached out of him. He somehow maneuvered them to the nearby futon, settling Tony down and then collapsing nearly on top of him, breathing heavily.
He wasn’t sure how long they lay there, trying to find breath for words and then for something to say that wouldn’t ruin this. It seemed almost too fragile to let words into it, like the whole thing would shatter if they spoke. Maybe it would.
“I’m gonna fuck up, Steve,” Tony mumbled into the curve of Steve’s neck almost too softly for even Steve to hear. Tony’s body went rigid beneath him, then Tony lifted his head, letting his chin scrape along the column of Steve’s throat as he put some space between them, sending a shudder through Steve’s body in response. “We both know that.”
“We all are,” Steve replied, a rough, choked sound that was almost broken, because it was true, and that was the hardest part. When they made a mistake, innocent people paid the price. You could talk yourself through good intentions all you wanted, but the job meant risk, and you weren’t the only one taking those risks. What they were up against, it demanded that of everyone, whether they agreed to it or not, and he knew that, he did, but damn if it wasn’t hard to see it happen and know there could have been another way but they’d picked the wrong door. “But Tony, you can’t shut me out because you don’t want the argument. It’s just going to get harder, you and I both know that. These choices…we have to make them impossible. That’s the way they should be. Wrong or right, we’ve got to earn them. That’s the only way we’ll be able to look at ourselves when this is over.”
“Be wrong together, too, huh?” Tony breathed out, aiming for humor, but it sounded more like relief. Tony let his hands fall away from Steve’s shoulders, flopping to the side of his head where he lay as sprawled on a futon as someone could manage to be. Steve pushed himself up on his elbows and looked down at Tony, his eyes instinctively dipping to Tony’s smooth chest where the reactor had once held his life inside it.
“If we have to,” Steve agreed, tracing a circle on Tony’s chest with one finger, then spreading his hand out, feeling the rabbit-quick beat of Tony’s heart underneath him.
“You should put that in the brochure,” Tony muttered, swiping a hand over his face and ending up leaving his hair haphazard curls, sticking up at all angles.
“It’s already there. Right where we call ourselves a team,” Steve responded, giving Tony a moment to decide how he was going to take that. “We have to be different, Tony. It has to mean something, really mean something. Us. Together.” He wasn’t even sure what he was talking about anymore, but Tony didn’t seem to want to press the issue.
Steve was already more than halfway to sleep when he heard Tony whisper against the top of his head, soft and fierce and aching with wonder and fear and something that might be hope. “I think it might mean everything.” Steve waited a beat, then pressed his lips to the side of Tony’s head, as he threaded his fingers through Tony’s, flexing his fingers over the rough pads of Tony’s palm.