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Lighter Than Air

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Steve was discovering that Tony enjoyed pointing things out on monitors, and that Friday night he'd shown him an array of funny-looking cars. "International Concept Car Preview," announced the webpage's headline, which sparkled and rotated on the screen.

"You want to buy more of them?" Steve asked, incredulous. "How many do you own now?"

"I'm just window-shopping," Tony said, not defensively at all, swiveling his chair back to the monitor. "Oh, that's like a baby Batmobile. Fun-Vii? Really? I demand credit for that name."

Steve shook his head. "You could supply a lot of orphans with new shoes for what these cars cost."

"C'mon, guilt trip, I already buy orphans shoes. I even built them a couple of schools," Tony said. "Maybe they'd like some Fun-Viis for a change. Besides, this is a concept show; none of these are for sale yet. They're look-don't-touch. Or actually, touch-don't-drive, and definitely drive-don't-buy." He put his feet up on the other chair at his workstation. "Unless you know people, and I know people."

"Uh huh," Steve nodded, hands in pockets. He had to admit it amused him to see Tony get excited; he was willing to cut him some slack since he'd begun to get to know him a bit better. Steve got excited about things too, but he mostly tamped down the urge to rave about how amazed he was by so many little things every day, like fruit out of season and 15 different kinds of mustard at the grocery store. He liked that Tony never laughed at him when he did.

"So let's go," Tony said, jumping up. "Pack a bag. And your passport. Dress up a little."

"A bag? For--"

"I have planes, too," Tony reminded him. "Did you have any hot plans for the weekend besides a date with your stationary bike and watching Anderson Cooper?"

"Hey, I like that guy," Steve said.


Steve sighed."Okay."

Tony rolled his eyes at his lukewarm assent; he had no idea how much pure fun Steve thought this excursion would be.

There were concept motorcycles, too.


"It would be very simple to break both of your legs, Anthony Stark. You're not wearing your precious armor to protect you," the interrogator said, picking at his teeth with a pinky and flicking a fragment of food into a dark corner.

Frankly, broken limbs sounded like the tastiest option on the brutality buffet, Tony thought, as he blinked once more at the intense light shining into his pupils. His captors had already threatened blinding, disfigurement, tongue removal via pliers, and various other delights after the waterboarding didn't produce results. At least if they wrecked his extremities, Tony could modify the suit. He could probably still fly.

"I don't know anything about any assassination, I swear it," Tony reiterated. "If you keep roughing me up, you'll get more agonized screaming, but there's nothing for me to tell you."

"We don't believe you," the bald man said, quiet and deadly.

Tony bit back a sarcastic reply we're the goddamn good guys, you fucking idiot and met his gaze. "I swear it," he said again. "Can you please get us someone from the Consulate?" he asked for the umpteenth time.

"Take him back to the cell," the interrogator ordered, and a guard pulled Tony roughly to his feet by his cuffed wrists, walked him down a corridor and through two doors, then pushed him into the freezing, spartan room. His cuffs were removed and he was left alone. Tony folded one of his two thin blankets over twice and eased himself onto the hard bench. He swiped a hand over his forehead to wipe away damp sweat and it came back dark with a smear of blood. They'd smacked him around with a large metal file, of all things.

"Haven't you people ever heard of rubber hoses packed with sand? Phone books?" Tony shouted. And then he clammed up, because mouthing off was obviously a shitty idea in a place like this.

He'd really like to get his hands on that file. As it was, there was no way out of a concrete-walled room with one barred window eight feet up and no movable furniture to use to reach it.

It was difficult to measure time, and Tony wondered where Steve could possibly be, whether he was facing the same unpleasant but thankfully not permanent forms of torture. He knew better than to ask his captors about him; it would give them leverage over Tony. He had to assume Cap was doing the same, because he'd had military training, after all. He'd probably given them only his name, rank, and serial number and had begun digging a tunnel with a plastic spork.

On the third night, he found out where Steve was. When Tony was returned to his chilly, damp cell with a kick to his lower back, hands caught him before he could hit the floor. Tony flinched and began to struggle, but he couldn't fight in the shape he was in, and thankfully, he heard a familiar voice instead of another threat.

"Calm down, it's me," Steve hissed, the sound echoing in the tiny space.

Tony reached a hand up to Steve's shoulder and pulled himself up. "Glad you're okay. God," he whispered. There didn't seem to be recording equipment in the room; there was nowhere to hide it, but he was sure the guards would be listening at the door. "Are you okay?"

"I've been better. They broke my foot."

Tony winced. "Jesus."

"It's healed already," Steve said in his ear. "I'm faking a limp. I can take a lot of abuse but I'm crying uncle all the time to hide that."

"Super soldier," Tony nodded weakly. "Gotta be handy."

"Yeah, well. They don't believe us," Steve whispered. "I told them we don't know anything and they sure don't have any evidence, but it's falling on deaf ears."

"That's painfully obvious. Emphasis on the painful," Tony said. In the dim cell, Tony could still see the angry set of Steve's mouth.

"What did they do to you?" Steve asked.

"Oh, you know, the standard beatings," Tony replied, trying to sound nonchalant. "Blackjack to the kidneys today. I suspect they're just waiting for the ransom money at this point and getting some practice in for actual terrorism or whatever."

Steve sat down on the lone long bench and rubbed his bare arms as Tony joined him. "Would...your people pay it?"

Tony huffed out a laugh. "Well, they're supposed to. But who knows? Probably just wishful thinking on my part when we seem to have a political problem here. And ransom could be moot; if there's a trackable request, I think they realize they'll be hosting a little Avengers hoedown instead of rolling around naked in benjamins. So I hope they do get around to asking, but maybe they won't."

Steve tentatively reached out and rubbed a circle on Tony's lower back, and he hissed. "Sorry, thought that might help."

"Everything hurts right now," Tony said. He couldn't bite back a whimper, and he guessed he didn't have to in front of Cap. "I just need to pass out for a couple of hours."

"Come on," Steve said softly, spreading out one of the blankets. He stretched out along the bench and pulled Tony back, waiting for him to lift his feet and fall back next to him before pulling the other blanket over them both. Tony lay stiffly, balancing on the edge of the bench, but Steve wrapped an arm around him and tugged him closer."Lean against me, alright?" he whispered, and Tony tumbled immediately into a fitful sleep.


It was one thing to hitch a ride on one of the Avengers jets on a mission from the helicarrier, and another thing entirely to be traveling in a private supersonic StarkJet, even if there were only three kinds of mustard in the refrigerator.

"Come on," Tony said when he sensed Steve behind him, waving him up into the cockpit and indicating the navigator seat. "Keep me amused while I drive."

"The last time I sat at the front of a plane, it didn't really end well," Steve said. "But I'll take a load off anyway."

He watched Tony flip switches, check gauges, and finally give Steve's thigh a little punch of excitement as they winged away from the city.

"This is a beautiful plane, Tony," Steve said, with real admiration.

"It's not bad," Tony said, patting the yoke lovingly. "Like a G6. Only better."

The plane banked to the right as the sun set on North America, behind them, and the waves glittered like diamonds. Tony turned up the music.


Tony jerked awake at the creak-slam of the cell door, and nearly fell to the ground. Steve was at the grungy sink, splashing tepid water on his face from the trickling tap, and two guards were at the door, armed with Uzis.

Tony loved shooting Uzis at his range. Having one trained on him, the other on Steve's back, not so much.

"Both of you," one of the guards said, jerking his weapon to indicate the corridor, where two others waited, both of them armed as well. Steve turned to him and Tony nodded. They didn't really have a choice, did they?


"Touchdown, sleeping beauty," Tony said with a nudge. "Let's dismount this bull and get some breakfast."

"I had a sandwich already," Steve said, stirring and stretching in his seat. He'd had a fantastic nap, too, and was pleased he'd felt so comfortable in the cockpit that he'd fallen asleep. "There's plenty of stuff to eat back in the galley."

"Are you serious? It's airplane food. Which is true even when it's your airplane. Let's get breakfast anyway," Tony said, pulling the jet into position at the private airfield and setting the brakes. "You know you have a big appetite, I need a coffee injection, and there's a joint that has these amazing pastries."

"Okay," Steve nodded agreeably. They'd cleared customs before they'd even landed, Tony had said.

"Then car show, then casino time." Tony smiled, gleefully rubbing his hands together.

"Let's keep a low profile. Director Fury will..."

"We'll be back before Fury knows we left," Tony reminded him. "And also, he's not our dad. Casino time, then dinner then a really great hotel; you'll love this place, it's off the hook, then we fly home in the morning."

Steve grinned back at him. That sounded great. "Copacetic," he said.


Steve was heavily chained by the wrists to a thick pole -- these captors weren't stupid, they knew his strength, even drugged (Tony suspected early on the one midday meal was adulterated, and Steve felt so logy right after eating that Tony was probably right. They just couldn't afford not to eat anything or they'd have no strength at all. Not to mention that a machine gun poised a couple of inches from your forehead was a pretty convincing reason to clean your plate.)

He leaned against the wall as the interrogator of the day entered; with her severe dark bun and severe dark suit, she could have come straight out of central casting. She ordered a guard to restrain Tony to the metal chair with handcuffs. The woman ripped Tony's graying shirt open, exposing his arc reactor, and studied it, head to one side. She nodded at the man seated next to her, who seemed to be in charge. He'd been present at the other interrogations too, at the periphery, Steve realized. Apparently he didn't want to dirty his hands.

"We are finished with the preliminaries. This is the time when you talk, Stark," she said coldly. "Tell us everything you know about the plot to assassinate our honorable Prime Minister and his aide. Who paid you?" She waited until Tony shook his head before slapping him swiftly across the face, bare-handed. Steve shut his eyes. It was a slap, just a slap, but Tony looked dazed, totaled. He hadn't recovered from the abuse the day before, and he'd slept poorly.

"Their plane crashed in the foothills, there was an explosion, and you were in the vicinity, with your weaponized suit, in an unregistered plane. It does not take a..." she crouched close to his face and sneered, "...rocket scientist to determine that this is no coincidence."

Steve wondered who was writing her script. If there had been a camera present, he could almost pretend this wasn't real. The absence of a camera was a very bad sign, he'd learned.

The interrogator traced a finger around the reactor, dug a nail into the ridge at its side, and Tony's head dropped back, the tendons of his neck tensing, and Steve winced on his behalf. The woman pushed at the disc embedded in Tony's chest, and tried to unscrew the housing as Steve struggled against his chains.

"Your government has denied any knowledge, so how much were you paid?" the interrogator demanded. "And who contracted you to make these arrangements?" She twisted again -- the arc's center snicked outward with a hiss, and Tony pitched forward, jerking in the chair.

"Stop!" Steve shouted, turning attention back to him. One of the guards hit him in the side with the butt of a machine gun, and he dropped to his knees on the concrete.

"Take him out," the woman gestured at Steve, and Tony's head rose at the sight of Steve sagging from the blow, his eyes wild with anger. Another hard shove from a weapon, this time to the side of Steve's head, and everything went fuzzy at the edges. He barely registered being unchained from the pole and half-led, half-dragged away, and the voice echoing down the hall as he was removed.


"If Stark happens to die of natural causes under our watch, it cannot be helped."


They heard the explosion when they had been on the way into the city from the unassuming place where they'd stopped for breakfast. Tony steered the loaner convertible (that had been waiting at the airfield as a favor from another guy who knew a guy) onto the main road and Steve looked over his shoulder at the hills.

"We ought to go and check that out."

"Random things can go boom," Tony said. "Probably a gas leak. Or it might be a mining accident."

"Tony," Steve said. "There could be civilians trapped in the middle of whatever that was." He waited.

"Fury doesn't know we're here. And we're technically not supposed to be horning in on anything outside the country without a sitrep to SHIELD..." Tony's fingers tightened around the wheel. "What am I saying? You're right. I know you're right," he said. "Fuck rules." He flipped the car around, shifting into a busy lane to the sound of halting and horns, and aimed at the rising column of smoke. "Call to SHIELD and casino after."

A siren wailed behind them as they sped to the site, and Tony shook his head. "Shit. Well, we'll show 'em our creds and let 'em know we're here to help out."

The police officer was dressed in urban camouflage, with an automatic slung across his chest, which seemed a little strange, Steve thought. But when four others joined him, five sights were aimed on them and the shouting started. He had fast reflexes, he could take them on...but not fast enough to spare Tony from a bullet, most likely.

Steve and Tony exchanged a look, and both slowly raised their hands.

"Look, this is a misunderstanding," Steve said, "it was just a traffic violation."

"Do you know who I am?" Tony demanded, inadvisably.


Steve was the last to return to the cell this time, after being slapped awake in a different, unfamiliar room, stripped to his boxers. He was marched down the corridor by two armed guards and shoved in, and when the door clanged shut behind him, Tony looked up. He was tucked into the corner of the wall on the bench wrapped in a blanket, his feet up in front of him.

"Tony," Steve said softly. He went to the corner, sank to a crouch and sat. He looked exhausted.

"I'm...alright," Tony whispered. He rubbed a palm over his face. "Unpleasant as that was, I followed your lead and played it up."

"Now I'm thinking we ought to break out before they do anything else," Steve said, eying the tiny window on the adjacent wall. "Too bad you can't get the suit here."

"It's destroyed," Tony said in a low voice. Steve knew that. When they'd been captured Tony had activated his wristbands to blow it up, in the trunk of the car they'd been using. It was a built-in fail-safe to keep the tech out of the wrong hands. They'd taken the bands away anyway and probably destroyed those too, not that they'd be any use since they were biometrically keyed to Tony's DNA. He hadn't built in a location beacon, unfortunately. And since the suit was now a pile of erector set debris... and Steve's shield was still in the plane, and the window was too small for either of them even if Steve could bend the bars apart, which he probably could, and well...

They'd already gone over their options. It had been a pretty short conversation.

Another bang-clang at the door; this time it was the slot - a tray slid across the floor with two small plates on it and hit Steve's leg. Steve picked one of the plates up and examined it. "This appears to be meat."

A voice rang out from the corridor. "Tomorrow is your trial. You will be awakened early. Your clothing will be returned."

"Oh great," Tony muttered. "A show trial before the real execution."

Steve raised his eyebrows. "Do you think they're planning to-"

"I don't know. They could have marched us out and mowed us down by firing squad already." Tony picked up the object on his plate with one hand and sniffed it. "Or poisoned us. Yep, mystery meatloaf, possibly with a sedative included. I'm not a lightweight when it comes to downers, thanks to hard livin', you've got a super metabolism and it's bedtime anyway, so dig in. Forks would be classy, but they're probably afraid I'll turn one of them into a communications system or a cute pendant."

Tony put a hand on Steve's shoulder, dragging a thumb up the side of his neck. "One more night," he whispered. "Tomorrow is make-or-break." He waited for Steve's nod. If they were moved to another venue, maybe there would be a chance to make a break for it.

"Okay," Steve agreed.

"Hey, you have a shiner," Tony said, "and there's some blood." He put down the plate. It wasn't like the food was going to get much colder.

"Yeah. I was a punching bag for a while. Moreso because I was out of it from the midday gruel."

"Do you think those guys are technically henchmen, or flunkies? Muscle? C'mon," Tony stood. "Let's get you cleaned up. Just...sit here." Steve perched on the bench as Tony tore off a strip from one of the blankets and wet it under the tap. He patted it against the side of Steve's temple, and he winced at the contact.

"What I would do right now for a hot shower," Steve said. He shook his head and stood, and washed his face and the traces of blood from his hair at the tap.

Tony stripped down matter-of-factly -- they both did -- and rinsed and wrung out their underclothes and set them out to dry in the dim cell. They'd managed to keep reasonably clean; it was good for morale. Tony was grateful they weren't reduced to using a toilet cistern for that.

Wrapped in the blankets, they ate their food silently, and Steve leaned back on the bench. "So, tomorrow," he said quietly.

"Look, I was joking about an execution. The party in power right now isn't known for its human rights record. They'll probably find us guilty of the assassinations, tape the proceedings, send it off and then at least people will know where we are. And by people, I mean Fury, and by that, I mean we could be reasonably optimistic about the outcome."

Steve let out a breath. "Good point."

"We should probably try to get some sleep, though."

"Comfy as the bed is," Steve said. He moved over and spread his blanket out on of the hard bench, then stretched out and gestured to Tony. Tony joined him, lying on his back, using the other blanket as a cover, but he really didn't need it as much with Steve's full-length heat next to him.

"You miss hot showers, I miss down and personalized memory foam bedding," Tony said.

"I was in the Army. I can sleep standing up in formation if I have to," Steve scoffed, scooting into the back wall as much as he could to give Tony room; Tony never took up as much space as he could. "Come on, you're falling off the edge again."

Steve pulled at Tony's hip over the blanket just as Tony turned his head to say something, and suddenly their faces were a bare inch apart. Steve drew in a sharp breath, and Tony could feel his heart bang in his chest, reminding him it was there.

"Thanks," Tony murmured finally, and faced the ceiling again, the weight of Steve's arm still across the top of his hip.

Steve paused. "Good night."

Tony closed his eyes, and then opened them. He shifted to his side to face Steve, leaning up on one elbow, bringing their faces close together again. "I'm sorry I brought you here," he said. "Way to go me, playing secret squirrel about our itinerary. I feel... pretty guilty." Tony swallowed. "I'm sorry," he said again.

"I am never going anywhere with you ever again," Steve whispered.

"Understandable," Tony said. He made to turn around, but Steve's arm tightened around him like a steel band.

"It's not your fault," he said.

"Except for the part where it is," Tony replied lightly, and there was clearly no sedative in that pathetic excuse for a dinner, because he was wide awake and very aware of every nerve ending in his body, particularly the ones beneath Steve's fingertips, which played along the line of his waist and were now tracing the edge of his shoulder blade beneath the blanket. He shivered.

"Are you cold?" Steve whispered.

"No," Tony breathed. He didn't think there was any way he was reading this poorly; if so, he'd be apologizing again in another minute, but he licked his lips and leaned in, watching Steve's eyes flutter closed, and kissed him lightly, just on the corner of his mouth. Tony pulled back slightly, and Steve wasn't moving. "Is this-- "okay, was what he was going to ask, or what you want, but then Steve was opening to him, kissing him back hotly, shifting them on the bench so he could wind another arm around him and Tony began to forget where they were.

Tony slid his palm up Steve's side, and back behind him, and heard him gasp into his ear and insinuate a leg between Tony's, urging him closer. He clutched at Steve's back and sank into another desperate kiss.

This, here, shouldn't be hot. Shouldn't be happening, not now. It was the worst possible...

But Tony wanted...he wanted everything. He wanted to slide to the floor and pull Steve forward, taste his cock, make him beg. He wanted to take him -- or to be taken -- it didn't matter. He wanted this, wanted warm and alive and reckless.

Steve's hand found him, slicked around them both, and they slid together in a slow roll on the concrete bench, still kissing.

Lips and tongue and the nip of his teeth at Steve's stubbled jawline.

The stroke of his hand. Flesh thrusting against flesh. Fingers failing to find purchase against a damp, cold wall. That not mattering.

Urgent. Fierce, yet not frantic. Kind of perfect.

Steve was moaning softly into his ear when he came and Tony followed immediately, both of them breathing heavily in the silence of the cell.

Still tense, afterward, Tony twisted his fingers into Steve's hair and kissed him again. He couldn't think of anything to say.


Tony was already up and dressed in his boxers, washing his face, when the door banged open, and Steve stirred on the bench. The clothes were draped over a box, shoved in by a booted foot, and the door clanged shut again.

Steve pulled on the khakis and dark blue shirt he'd been captured in - they'd been washed, and Tony tucked a crisp new white shirt into his suit pants. No belt or tie, of course. Tony examined a rip in the sleeve of the jacket.

"Fuckers," he muttered. "This is Cerruti."

The box held their shoes. "Guess we're going to the show trial sockless," Steve said, scratching at the stubble on his cheek.

"It's summer," Tony said, "Fuck-you ankles are in." Steve searched his eyes when he finally glanced up, but Tony just looked worried.

There were a lot of things Steve wanted to say, but the guards were back.


More automatic weapons, heavy chains, hands behind their backs, a long walk side by side down a long corridor, a turn down another, a shove with the point of a gun in the back to a door leading into sunlight.


Rides in separate vans. Silent rides.

Tires screeching to a halt, rough hands shoving him to the pavement. Another thump nearby. Engines revving, and driving off.

"Tony?" Steve asked, his voice muffled. His fingers stretched to reach over hot asphalt.

"I'm here," Tony said faintly, thankfully, over the sound of approaching footsteps -- and suddenly, so was everyone else.


When the hood came off, the first thing Steve saw was Natasha's smile.

He turned his head to see Rhodey and Fury circling Tony as he rubbed his wrists and glared at the sky. "We did not assassinate anybody!" he heard Tony say, which was, of course, stating the obvious.

Steve looked around, saw a row of parked planes and a small tower. They were back at the private airfield, so that was handy.



"I cannot believe this shit," Colonel Fury was chewing him out now, as Rhodey rounded on Tony, Natasha was giving instructions to some SHIELD pilot, and Clint looked bored. Shouting was apparently the way people showed concern for your well-being after rescues in the 21st century, Steve thought.

"This wasn't our fault at all," Steve said, "we didn't do anything wrong!"

"We know that. But do you know what kind of cover-up operation we've had to do?" Fury's voice rose, something about PR nightmares and didn't they have enough problems after Manhattan. Steve kept his eyes on Tony, who met Rhodey's heated lecture about flight plans and procedure with a few well-timed shrugs.

Rhodey stalked away from the group and mounted the metal steps of the small StarkJet, his heels banging all the way up. When he turned, Tony yelled, "Hey, my sunglasses are in there!"

Rhodey flipped him off.


Steve felt a little better after the larger jet -- another of Tony's -- took off and rose over the hills, much better after a shower and a shave, and indescribably better when Clint silently handed him his shield.

"It appears to have been a high-level fakeout that reached the top echelons of government, with two unidentified American tourists -- framed as hit men from the opposition -- held without trial for an assassination that never happened," Anderson Cooper was saying on the television. "It's one thing for a nation's leader to die in an accident, but another for a government to claim a conspiracy in order to keep a hold on power. But there's more to this story. The Prime Minister? Alive. And found with enough of the treasury to live in unbelievable luxury for the rest of his life, until he was caught and returned to his country. The opposition has taken over and arrests are being made as we speak. Join us this hour for live reports, including analysis from Jeff Toobin on what sort of justice the PM and his cronies might face. Indications are that it won't be pretty."

Steve watched as police were shown ushering a handful of captives from one building to another: a group of MPs, the dark-suited woman and bald observer among them.

"They thought we were tourists when they picked us up..." Steve said.

"No, that's the official cover story now," Natasha told him. "When it became known you two were in the country, thanks to some shady 'friend' of Tony's who loaned him that car, you became convenient scapegoats. Turn a tragic accident into a political murder, get the upper hand. Also, what a bonus, making Avengers out to be assassins for hire," She looked away and coughed into a fist, "...or maybe keeping you under wraps as an asset -- not sure what the endgame was there."

Steve studied the footage on TV. "I thought they were going to kill us."

"Nope," Natasha shook her head. "You're too valuable. They would have faked that too, and probably tried to force you into some dirty work with blackmail and threats against people you care about, but that's just my theory. Then the PM was captured by Interpol and squawked, and they knew the jig was up. They were told where to deliver you."

"They didn't fake the beatings."

"I'm sorry," Natasha wrapped her fingers around his shoulder. "But that one is in the playbook. They knew that you couldn't spill and blow their story, because you didn't know anything. Perfect setup. Pointless beatings are the worst."

Steve nodded, but he thought threats against people you care about certainly topped beatings.


Tony was freshly dressed and on his phone, waving off Natasha's admonishments. Clint was sleeping in one of the reclining seats, arms folded across his chest, his head tilted to rest on Fury's shoulder as he perused a laptop. Steve had a hard time repressing a smile at the tableau, and Fury gave him a dirty look.

When he opened his eyes again, Fury was asleep too, Clint was snoring, Natasha was on her laptop, and Tony was gone. He stood and stretched, and Natasha caught Steve's eye and gestured towards the back of the plane. He nodded and headed back, to find Tony unbuttoning his shirtsleeves in the hallway outside of the sleeping quarters. He watched as Tony rolled his sleeves and then Tony saw him standing there.

The look on his face was hard to decipher. Steve thought about the Enigma machine, and wondered if the key might have been S T A R K. He was about to duck into the bathroom and avoid thinking about it further when Tony waved him over.

"Yeah," Steve said, leaning against the wall.

"Hi," Tony said quietly, and Steve squinted at him. He had a long scratch on his cheek and an abrasion on his forehead. "How you feeling?"

"Fine, I guess. I'm a quick healer."

"Don't be so sure. Sometimes people have post-traumatic...later. I mean, I've been captured and held before." Tony loosened his tie.

"I'm fine," Steve insisted, folding his arms. "I've seen people I care about die in front of me."

"I didn't mean--" Tony looked away. "I realize that."

And I'm glad it didn't happen again. "Well..." Steve elbowed the wall to straighten up.

"I'm gonna take a nap now," Tony said. "Memory foam and down, you know."

"Yeah, I guess I'll..." Steve began to turn away but Tony's hand landed on his shoulder, and his fingertips trailed lightly across Steve's chest. He slipped a thumb gently under the placket of his shirt as Steve watched.

"Are you coming?" Tony asked, and Steve's breath caught. "Shit. That was presumptuous. I'll understand if you'd rather be alone, or you're not..." Tony let his hand drop, and looked everywhere but into Steve's eyes. "Just... if you wanted to join me, I'd like that."

"I'm-" Steve began, and his mouth went dry, but he felt something unfurl in his chest.

Tony glanced back at the open door.

"I told you that I wasn't going anywhere with you ever again," Steve said, and that drew Tony's attention, finally, to his eyes. "So."

"So." Tony said. A corner of his mouth twitched once, then again.

"So let's go."