The first time they'd fucked was sort of an accident.
You know, if accidents could be qualified as "whoops I punched him and my dick fell in".
They were all pissed off and tired and Tony really had just wanted to pry off his armor, shower, and sleep for a week. Instead, he had an irate Captain-fucking-America banging down the door to his workshop at two in the morning.
Tony looked up from the boot he was repairing (it had been ripped off by one of Loki's nasty little shit-minions) and drawled, "No, really Cap, do come in -- mi casa es su casa, after all."
"What the hell, Stark?" he barked, glaring down at Tony sternly.
"Gonna have to be a little more specific, babydoll," Tony sang. "People say that to me all day long and let me tell you, I stop listening after the fourth or fifth time that--"
"You disobeyed a direct order in the middle of battle," Steve growled, stalking over to Tony's scrap-infested table. He crossed his arms over his chest and hissed, "I am seriously getting tired of your insubordination."
"I'm sorry, which part am I supposed to be sorry about?" Tony mocked, flipping up his goggles; Tony swiped a hand across his forehead only to find them both now stained with grease. "The part where I saved everyone's ass or the part where I just don't give a shit what you think?"
"What you did was mess up the coordination of the entire team and unnecessarily damage city property." Steve, if it was at all possible, frowned even harder.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you if you left your face that way it would stick?" Tony snarked, gesturing at the super soldier with a wrench.
"You blew up a building, Stark!" Steve exploded, slamming a fist down on the metal table before them.
Tony cursed, grabbing a few pieces of his suit up before they could fall to the floor. "It was my goddamn building, I'll blow it up if I want to!"
"That doesn't matter," Steve reasoned, visibly restraining himself from hitting the table again. "Do I need to have a talk with Director Fury about how you're not making an effort to be a part of this team? Maybe we need to bench you for awhile, soldier."
"I'm not your fucking soldier, Rogers," Tony snarled. He slipped his goggles the rest of the way off and dropped them to the table, crossing his own arms. "Go ahead, run to daddy. See how long Bruce sticks around without me."
"Why do you have to make everything so incredibly difficult?" Steve quasi-shrieked, stomping up so that they were chest to chest. "Howard--"
And really, Steve should know by now that mentioning his dad was a no-no, because before Tony even had time to process what he was doing, he'd lunged out and and rammed his fist into the side of Boy's Wonder's perfectly sculpted jaw.
Steve, the rotten super-enhanced asshole that he was, flinched back from surprise more than anything, but Tony supposed he had his pride to deal with, because he socked Tony half a second later.
Tony, unfortunately, did not have the same luck. He fell to the ground, blood gushing from his nose, spitting curse after curse at Steve. "You piece of shit; I think you broke my nose!" he squawked.
Steve faltered. "Oh god, I'm sorry, are you okay--?" he started, scrambling over to peer down at him and Tony kicked upwards, nailing Steve in the face again.
Steve roared and grabbed Tony up by the shirt, pulling them nose to nose. "You think that's funny, Stark?"
"No, but this is," Tony challenged and smashed his mouth to Steve, biting down on the man's lip hard.
Steve made a noise of protest, yanking Tony's head back by his hair as Tony purred, "What, you don't like that, handsome?" The good captain growled in response and kissed him quiet, tongue sliding against Tony's teeth. Steve pulled back again, this time smirking, and whispered, "What, you don't like that?"
"Ha!" Tony laughed, sliding his hands under Steve's tunic, blunt nails digging into the man's hips. He bit down on the purpling flesh of Steve's jaw.
Steve grunted, letting go of Tony's hair so he could swipe his workstation clean; various gadgets fell to the floor and Steve dropped Tony to the table unceremoniously, pinning him to the metal and kissing him fiercely.
Groaning, Tony wrapped his legs and Steve's waist and ground up, gasping into Steve's mouth, "No, no, sunshine: my workshop, my rules." He shimmied his way out from under Steve, biting back a gripe about his age as he dropped to his knees. Tony jerked at Steve's pants and swallowed half of his dick, sucking hard.
Steve's knees almost buckled; he moaned loudly, rolling his hips. He grabbed the edges of the table and held on tight, crying out as Tony put his mouth to good use. "Oh, mercy," he rasped, thighs trembling.
"What'sa matter, no one ever sucked your dick before, big boy?" Tony teased, licking up the entire length. Steve glared down at him and Tony crowed, "No shit, really? Oh, buddy, you are going to love this-- JARVIS, where's my--?"
"The drawer to your left, sir. Shall I make sure you are uninterrupted for the time being?"
"You're a good man, JARVIS," Tony stated solemnly, digging around in a drawer and pulling out a small container of lube and a condom. He circled around behind Steve and nipped at his ass. "Gonna make you scream my name, buttercup," Tony promised, nuzzling the mark he left behind.
"What are you--ahh," Steve hissed, head twisting around as Tony circled a wet fingertip against his ass.
"Yes?" Tony requested, pausing in his ministrations. He looked up at Steve questioningly; whatever anyone else said about him, they couldn't say he didn't ask permission.
Steve groaned again, staring at Tony's red, swollen mouth. "Nngh, yeah, okay," he agreed, turning back around and trying to quell the blush rising on his face.
Tony hummed and cautiously slid a finger in, free hand going back to Steve's cock. Steve lowered his head to the cool metal, moaning into the table. "Fuck, you're so tight," Tony whimpered, pulling his finger out and massaging the ring of muscle there. "Have you ever been fucked before? Ever been opened up with another man's cock, felt full another to burst?" Steve shuddered; Tony pressed two fingers in, spreading them slightly. "Yeah, just like that, just like that." Without warning, Tony pulled his hand back and shoved three fingers in. Steve threw his head back and groaned. Tony fucked him slowly, as deep as his fingers would go, turning Steve to a writhing, sobbing mess. He laughed, rocking back on his heels and moving away from Steve entirely.
Steve turned back to Tony, eyes wide and pupils blown. "What the hell?" he demanded.
Tony smirked and wiped the rest of the blood off his face with his sleeve. He unbuckled and slid his belt off and let it clang to the floor, keeping his gaze locked on Steve's face. He winced momentarily, erection straining near painfully against his waistband. Tony dropped his pants and kicked them somewhere away, amused at Steve's silence. "Likin' what you see, Capsicle?"
Steve frowned, about to make some pissy remark when Tony rolled his eyes, fingers wrapping around the superhero's cock again. Steve exhaled sharply, retort lost in his lust. "Tony," he managed, voice slightly garbled.
With the skill only a certified sex-machine could manage, he snatched up the condom and ripped the package open with his teeth, sliding it down his aching dick as he stroked Steve off. Steve gasped when the tip of Tony's cock slid against his ass.
With a flick of Tony's wrist Steve was coming, biting back a pleased groan. "Let's see how well that super-stamina works, eh Cap?" he murmured, slowly pushing the head of his dick in.
"F--uuuck," Steve moaned, scratching at the table. He pushed his hips back, driving his ass further onto Tony's dick. His hips jerked. "Oh fuck," he repeated, clenching tight.
Tony nearly choked, digging his fingertips into Steve's hips. He slid Steve off halfway and slammed him back down, moaning when Steve shouted something loud and incoherent. "Oh yeah, that's it," he hissed, picking up the pace. Tony fucked him hard and fast over the table, whispering hot little phrases into the blond's ear. "Yeah, I bet you like that, Rogers, don't you, can't get enough of my cock, fuck, you're so hot, needy and eager and so fucking tight." Tony's toes curled in his socks; he shifted his hips slightly and Steve cried out again. "Fuck yeah, I bet I can get you to come again--how many times can I get you to, I wonder? Three? Four?" He drove his dick in deep.
Steve moaned pitifully, reaching down to stroke himself. "Oh god, oh god, I'm about to--"
"Go ahead, come as many times as you want, babe," Tony growled, one hand slipping up to pinch a nipple. He scraped his teeth across Steve's back and then bit down through the shirt. Steve came again, spilling across his fingers and Tony hissed, "Lick it off, yeah, that's right, fuck, you like that? I bet you do." Steve eagerly slipped two fingers in his mouth and sucked; Tony moaned and his balls tightened. "Fuck." Tony drove into Steve a few more times then stilled, panting harshly against the man's shoulder. He placed a sloppy kiss there and pulled out a few moments later, tying off the condom and tossing it one-handed in the trash.
Groping blindly for his stool, Tony stumbled over to it and fell back, grin lazy and pleased. "Can I expect this treatment every time I piss you off, Cap?" he teased, lowering his lashes flirtatiously.
Steve froze, the pleasant relaxation of his spine tightening up. He frowned at Tony, jaw tightening and cheeks flushing. "Not on your life, Stark," he spat, pulling up his pants and half-marching, half-limping out.
"Not on your life" lasted about a week, actually. Tony (as he oftentimes does) mouthed off to the paparazzi. To be fair, Iron hardly ever caused bad press; Tony Stark was the one who usually started incidents. The 'incident' in question hadn't even been that big of deal, just a quote taken out of context and printed of the front page of the Times. Then when Steve had read the headlines (seriously, who even read the actual physical paper anymore?), he'd freaked out and started ranting about it in the middle of the street. One thing led to another and suddenly Tony was telling Captain America to go fuck himself on national television.
And so now they were both getting an earful from a very irate Fury. Tony remained completely unfazed (he was very good at ignoring Fury), but Steve was getting redder and pissier by the second. By the time they left his office, Steve was practically foaming at the mouth.
"That wasn't so bad, was it Cap? I--fff," Tony sputtered as Steve grabbed him by the collar and practically threw him in the first door they passed by.
"Out," Steve told the wide-eyed intern sternly. After seeing him nearly soil himself, Steve amended, gentler, "Please," and the intern scurried out, slamming the door behind him.
"Look, can you not punch me in the nose again? My face just stopped looking like an ad for Covergirl and I--" Steve spun him around and pressed him up against the wall; Tony inhaled deep. "Oh my god, this is going to become a thing, isn't it?"
"When are you going to stop trying to piss me off, Stark?" Steve muttered, low and hot into Tony's ear.
Tony whimpered. "Fuck, please tell me this was some kind of kinky, porno-type punishment they did in the army -- I just came up with like, fifteen new jokes to tell Rhodey."
Steve snorted, grabbing a handful of Tony's ass to give it a squeeze; Tony groaned and pushed back into the other man. He opened his mouth to speak again and Steve suddenly ripped off Tony's (very expensive) suit jacket, yanking at his shirt collar.
Buttons flew off and pinged onto the tile and Tony had enough time to whisper, "You asshole!" before Steve had sunk his teeth into Tony's shoulder. He threw his head to the side, panting, and Steve mouthed along his neck, sucking at his jugular (There was a vampire joke in there somewhere).
Steve grunted and gripped Tony's hips, grinding the shorter man back against him; Tony felt Steve's dick, hard as a rock, through his pants and moaned. Lips moving to Tony's jaw, Steve slid his hand forward and unbuttoned the man's pants. Steve reached in and rubbed his hand slowly against Tony's leaking cock. Tony groaned again, loudly.
"Fuck," Tony whined and Steve sucked behind his earlobe, thumb slipping over the head. His hips jerked messily. "Are you seriously going to just tease me, or?"
Steve wrapped a hand around Tony's cock and squeezed, stroking him quickly and efficiently, teeth grazing the nape of Tony's neck. He kept a steady rhythm -- so exactly like him, the good soldier that he was -- forcing Tony to slowly, loudly fall to pieces in front of him. To Tony's utter frustration, Steve also spent the entire time with his dick pressed right up to Tony's ass.
"I can think of a few things you can do with that, Rogers," Tony huffed quietly, bracing his elbows against the wall for support. Steve ignored him. He came shortly after with a quiet moan, forehead falling to the plaster with an impressive thunk. "Fuck," he gasped, shutting his eyes tight.
Steve pulled back and Tony heard a little rustle; Tony leisurely turned to face him and Steve gifted him with a wide, smug smile. "See you at the tower, Stark," he said with a wave, stalking out and leaving Tony alone, half-naked, and utterly ravished in the empty SHIELD office.
"Holy hell, Stark."
Tony looked up from his coffee mug.
"What the hell happened to you?" Clint Barton asked, jaw dropped, eyes sweeping Tony up and down. "Did you seriously get laid between Fury's office and here?"
Tony shrugged; he was wearing a sweater, but it hardly hid the red and purple mess that was his neck. "What can I say? I'm very desirable," he purred. Tony grinned slyly, glad he'd at least changed before coming to the kitchen. A few (dozen) hickeys was one thing for his teammates to see, come-stained pants were another. The shirt was ruined and the jacket would need to be dry-cleaned, but eh. Worse had happened to him.
"Gross, Stark," Natasha Romanoff mentioned, padding into the kitchen and rummaging through the fridge.
"You act like sex is such a bad thing," Tony huffed, crossing his arms over his chest.
Natasha straightened slowly, one eyebrow raised. "I have a lot of sex," she said coolly and Tony felt a wave of fear envelop him, recalling her codename was the motherfucking Black Widow.
"I'm going to leave before you eat my soul," Tony murmured, snatching up his cup and nearly running into Steve. He beamed up at the man, proclaiming, "Hey Capper-Dapper. Long time no see!"
Steve frowned, eyes straying to the marks on Tony for a second before twisting his shoulders and stepping around him.
"Aww, don't be like that sugar plum, are you still mad at me?" Tony stuck his lower lip out.
"Uh, that happened this morning," Clint said around a mouthful of chips. "You told him to go fuck himself in front of a bunch of reporters."
Tony threw his hands in the air. "He started it!"
"Right." No one sounded very convinced.
"You guys suck, why did I let you live in my tower, I'm going downstairs to play with Bruce," Tony muttered, downing the rest of his caffeinated delight.
"Have fun, Tony," Natasha sang sweetly as he left.
Tony wasn't sure if he was more or less scared of her than normal at the tone she used.
And that was how their weird hate-sexcapade started. They would piss each other off (more often than not, Tony was the cause), slam each other up against the nearest available, relatively flat surface, and go to town. Tony topped, because duh, Tony was awesome, Steve did amazing things with his mouth, and neither of them talked about it afterward.
Which was a pretty sweet deal if you thought about it, because hello, no-strings sex. The only slight downer was that after seeing the bruises he'd made, Steve was much more cautious about what he did where with his teeth. Underneath Tony's clothes, however...
Steve bit down, hot and wet on Tony's hipbone, tongue sliding soothingly around the mark he left behind. Tony groaned low in his throat and the sensation vibrated through the arc reactor; he clutched a hand to his chest absentmindedly. Steve, meanwhile, opened his mouth and swallowed Tony's dick, licking lazily around the head as he slid up and down.
"Jesus Christ, Rogers," Tony gasped out, trying to lock his knees back in place. "Get up, honey muffin, get up, I'm gonna fuck you up against this wall."
"No," Steve said roughly as he pulled back, standing up and looking down at Tony. Grabbing him by the shoulder, Steve spun him around, thumb massaging into the muscle. "My turn this time," he promised, sending a shiver up Tony's spine.
"Pooh bear, if you wanted to top, you should've said something," Tony babbled, fingertips pressing against the wall.
"I am," Steve replied, nipping at the sensitive skin behind Tony's ear. "Take your pants off."
"Sir, yes sir," Tony murmured, hands going for his belt. Behind him, Tony could hear Steve removing his own trousers and folding them neatly on the floor beside him. The pop of a bottle cap graced his ears, followed by a crackle of plastic and then Steve was pressing a slick finger in Tony's ass. "Ahh, fuck, that's good," he gasped, hips wiggling slightly.
Steve chuckled quietly, slipping the finger out and squirting another dollop of lube in; he shoved in two fingers this time, stretching him fast. "I'm going to bend you over and fuck you so hard, you'll feel it in the meeting tomorrow," he hissed into Tony's ear, already adding a third finger. "Maybe you'll actually behave for once."
Tony moaned, thunking his forehead against the wall. "Oh my god, keep this up and maybe I will."
Steve laughed again and fiddled with the condom, sliding it on and tugging Tony off the wall. He pushed Tony's shoulders forward and braced the tip of his cock against Tony's ass; when Tony shuddered again, he slid in slowly, splaying his fingers across Tony's hipbones before clinging to them for dear life.
"Jesus-fuck, come on Cap, I thought you were gonna fuck me, gonna make me feel it and--"
Steve cut him off by pulling almost all the way out and ramming back into Tony, hand reaching around and thumbing the head of his dick. Tony choked, a startled groan ripping from his throat. Steve slid off and slammed back into Tony's ass a few more times, adjusting the angle ever so slightly until Tony was whimpering beneath him, hands pressed white-knuckled to the wall.
Steve grunted softly and Tony could tell he was making a displeased face. "Problems, Cap-ricorn?" he drawled, feigning disinterest.
"I was born in July, Stark," he muttered, stilling for a moment. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against Tony's scalp. "Just... give me a minute."
"Yeah, sure, hey cool, I'll just sort of crouch here with my ass in the air," Tony ground out, bracing his elbow to the wall. Steve smacked the side of his ass, hissing out, "Tony," and Tony jumped. "Oh man, first names, ouch sorry buddy, take your time, it's all good."
Steve growled again and Tony shut the hell up (because contrary to how he was acting, he really just wanted to get laid); he straightened slowly, grasping Tony's hips again and resuming his previous rhythm. "Sorry," he said quietly after a moment. "This is just the first time, I've ever done this."
"Hey, no problem," Tony said simply and dropped his head to the wall, groaning into his shoulder. "Fuck, ah, fuck." One of his hands slithered off the wall and Tony started messily jerking himself off.
Steve made a noise deep in his throat, pressing up against Tony's back. He had to fuck him slightly more shallow than he wanted to, but it allowed Steve access to the nape of Tony's neck, right at the spot where his shirt collar would cover any marks he left.
With a sharp breath through his nose, Tony came, ass clenching and collapsing near boneless against the wall. He huffed a little laugh. "You did fine, Steve," he mumbled, eyes fluttering shut against the beads of sweat that threatened to drip down his forehead.
Steve moaned, thrusting into Tony a few more times before finally succumbing to his own orgasm, pressing surprisingly gentle, open-mouthed kisses to Tony's jaw.
Tony whistled. "I am definitely going to need a break if we're going for round two," he murmured, somehow managing to stay somewhat vertical.
Steve grabbed the base of the condom and slide out, backing away from Tony. "No thanks," he replied, smirking. "Sparring practice in the gym in twenty, though." He gave Tony's hair one more semi-fond tug (could one even tug hair fondly?) and threw his condom in the trash. Grabbing his pants, Steve jumped into them and pulled himself back together, straightening his hair and tugging down his shirt. With one final grin, Steve departed, once again leaving Tony alone and half-naked.
Oh, Rogers was evil alright.
"Yeah? Let me put on the suit and see whose footwork is what," Tony growled, sidestepping Clint's fist. Clint tripped him then and Tony nearly fell flat on his back, grabbing the rope to the boxing ring just in time. He swung himself forward and threw an elbow.
"Hey, I don't have my arrows, do I? No suit for you," Clint snorted, shoving Tony's arm away. "Seriously, what's with you, old man? You're usually better than this."
Tony's eyes narrowed; he dropped down to the floor and when Clint went to dodge, Tony turned on his side and kicked upward, knocking him in the ribs. Clint stumbled and Tony brought another elbow down against his sternum. "Who's an old man?" Tony asked as Clint fell, panting.
"Okay, fine, not you," Clint conceded, holding his hands up. "Mind letting me go then, big boy?"
"What? Yeah, sorry," Tony mumbled, shuffling to his feet and wobbling back to the side of the ring.
"You know, it's all fine and dandy if you beat your opponent," Clint started, sitting up, "but if it wipes you out in the process, it's not going to do you much good."
Wordlessly, Tony threw the upper half of his body over the ropes and hung there. He groaned softly, wet bangs falling into his face. Tony felt his shirt ride up.
Clint whistled. "Damn, Tony, your new girlfriend's kind of an animal. Where'd you find her and does she have any hot friends?"
Someone growled lowly; probably Natasha. Tony didn't even bother to shift around and try to get a peek at what Clint was talking about; it must have been impressive though. "No, you can't have any of her friends," Tony denied, feeling a smirk slide up his face as he caught Steve's gaze (he and Natasha were taking a break, apparently) for a second. "Mainly because she doesn't have any."
"It must be serious, though," Bruce piped up from the corner of the room, reading glasses on. "It's been, what, three months? That's longer than your usual flings."
"Flings? Ouch, pumpkin pie, that hurts," Tony feigned distress, pressing a hand to his arc reactor. He finally stood, throwing his arms above his head and stretching; his spine popped. "Besides, it isn't anything serious. It's just sex," Tony insisted, rolling his head from side to side. "Round two, Hawkeye?" he quipped.
But apparently they weren't done talking about him, because Bruce frowned disapprovingly, stating, "Tony, you can't just lead her on like that. Someone's feelings are going to get hurt."
Tony faltered momentarily. "I'm not leading anyone on and I'm definitely not going to hurt anybody's feelings. It's the twenty-first century -- people are capable of being fuck buddies without stomping on anyone's delicate sensitivities."
Bruce looked unconvinced. "Tony," he started again and Tony threw his hands up in the air.
"What do you want from me? Goddamn," he muttered, slipping between the ropes and stalking out of the gym. He was going to down to his workshop and build a robot or something, because robots (sassy as his creations may be) didn't assume stupid shit like Tony was going to break Captain-fucking-America's heart when most of the time, Steve was the one making up the rules.
Ugh. Not that Tony was worried about anyone's heart breaking.
these boys *le sigh*
Tony looked up from his tinkerings. Steve stood at the door to his workshop, nervously shifting from foot to foot. "Sup, Cap," Tony said slowly, sliding his goggles up.
"What're you working on?" Steve asked, avoiding the question.
"A robot," Tony answered in the same tone of voice, gesturing to the scraps of metal before him. "I'm going to program it to kick Clint's ass whenever he's being a douche-canoe. Which means it's going to need its own arc reactor, because it's never going to be able to stop to charge." But not Bruce, though. Bruce may be annoyingly moral at times, but he usually had everyone's best interests at heart.
Regardless, Bruce was going to bake him a cake later: red velvet, if he could finagle it.
Steve snorted, finally walking closer and propping his hip against the table. "I'm sorry about what happened in the gym," he said, forehead wrinkling. "I already had a talk with Clint and Bruce about ganging up on you."
"Stickin' up for me, Cap? People will talk."
Steve rolled his eyes. "You're on the team, too, Tony."
"You don't need to defend my honor," Tony grumbled, staring sour-faced at Steve. "I'm not some flower whose delicate little sensitivities are in danger every time someone in my life acts like an asshole."
"That's not what I meant." Steve had on what Tony liked to call his 'Tony, you are such an ass' face. "Do you always have to make everything so difficult?" Before Tony could answer, Steve plowed on, "Look, don't listen to Bruce. I know what I signed up for; no one's getting their feelings hurt."
"Oh, you signed up for something? Damn, I hardly ever read the forms Pepper gives to me," Tony purred, pushing off his stool and skimming his hands under Steve's shirt; it was still somewhat damp and clingy from his workout. "Here I thought you were just trying to fuck me into obedience." He smirked devilishly, eyes flashing up at Steve.
Something clicked in Steve's brain and he groaned, "Oh my god, I knew you were burning me up on purpose, I knew it."
Tony leered. "I'll burn you up if you really want me to."
Steve's eyes darkened and he curled a finger into the waistband of Tony's gym shorts, tugging him back towards the sofa.
"Oh god, yes, couch," Tony sighed, willingly draping himself over the side of it. Steve slid up behind him, already hard cock pressing against his backside. Tony moaned. "Your refractory period is something both to be feared and admired."
Steve laughed, already hiking Tony's shirt over his head. "That is a mighty impressive mark you've got there, Stark," Steve noted, staring down at the collection of hickeys that stretched across Tony's hip. He hunched over and licked a hot trail across his skin.
"We can't all be fast-healing super soldiers," Tony hissed out, fingertips digging into the cushions. "JARVIS, if you could just--"
"I'll close down access to this floor for the time being and re route your calls, sir," JARVIS replied, slightly amused.
Tony moaned loudly as Steve reached around to grab Tony's dick. With his other hand, Steve yanked down Tony's shorts and boxers, already slipping in a lube-slicked finger. "Where did you even get that?" Tony gasped, grinding his teeth as Steve added another finger; it was right on the edge of 'holy shit, that feels awesome' and 'damn it, that's still sore'.
"You're not the only one who keeps this stuff on hand," Steve answered, whispering into Tony's ear before biting down on his earlobe.
"Was this planned? Oh, fuck, Rogers, that is undeniably hot," Tony whimpered. "I've corrupted you. Now I'm really going to feel this in the meeting tomorrow." Steve's hands disappeared and Tony almost cried before he heard the familiar crinkled of a condom wrapper. Then Steve wrapped his wet hand tightly around Tony's cock again, using his other to slowly guide his own dick into Tony's ass.
"Fuck," Tony said again, feeling the slight burn and tilted his hips, ramming his ass back against him. Steve choked out a moan and set a fast, rough pace. "Ah, ah, fuck, just like that, Steve, Christ, you should've done this sooner -- you're a fucking natural."
"You have a filthy mouth," Steve hissed into Tony's ear again, teeth scraping the back of his neck. He let go of Tony's dick to grab his hips, slamming Tony up to meet him.
"Don't tell me that doesn't get you all hot and bothered," Tony managed, jerking himself off. "I know you like it when I do it. Got a little kink for dirty talk, Rogers?"
Steve moaned, sucking on the top of Tony's shoulder.
"I'll put it onto your to-do list."
"Hey." Tony sat up finally, tucking one leg under him. He said suspiciously, "JARVIS, how long do my relationships usually last?"
"Are we including your previous courtship with Ms. Potts?" JARVIS asked cautiously.
"No, no, we're not counting Pepper. Count everyone else," Tony insisted, nose wrinkling. Pepper was, and would probably always remain, the exception.
"Then the average is about five weeks. The shortest time you've ever spent with someone was twenty-six minutes and the longest, thirteen weeks."
"Thirteen weeks?" Tony asked, brows furrowing. "Who was that?"
"That would be Captain Rogers, sir."
Tony scoffed. "Steve and I are not in a relationship."
"You said to include everyone but Ms. Potts, sir," JARVIS said, and Tony detected a hint of sass in his tone.
"Smartass! I'm hurt, JARVIS, I'm wounded; why did I ever build you, you brat?" Tony teased, slowly getting to his feet.
"I ask myself that same question everyday, sir."
So technically, Tony guessed as he thought back to his earlier conversation with JARVIS, this was the most monogamous he'd been since Pepper. That thought left a little sour taste in his mouth. Tony snorted, shook himself from the internal monologue, and threw himself back into the fight, repulsor cannons charging. He ripped through a few goo monsters gleefully, yelling out, "That's sixteen for me!" over the commlink.
"Hulk is still winning," the green guy insisted, smashing three of the sticky beasts to the street.
"Nope, that would be me now," Clint insisted; an explosion sounded in the distance. "Twenty four."
"Focus on the fight, men," Steve reminded them sharply. Natasha coughed. "That actually was directed at only the men, Black Widow."
"It's fine; I've already destroyed thirty of them," Natasha stated, sending a chill down Tony's spine.
Natasha was fucking scary.
Tony managed to take out the last one about an hour later. He threw his arms out, flashing peace signs. "There's three things I want to do tonight guys," Tony told them, slowly descending back down to street level. "Sleep, sleep, and sleep."
"Not gonna go see your girlfriend, then?" Clint quipped from his shoulder, smirking.
"I will drop you," Tony threatened, boots finally clanking to the asphalt. Clint hopped off of him, adjusting his quiver. "Also, I am starving."
"It's Steve's night to pick dinner," Natasha reminded them from the shadows.
Tony jumped, flipping up his faceplate. "Are we seriously still doing that?"
Natasha nodded, sheathing a knife... somewhere. "It is a team building exercise. Go make sure the rest of the civilians were cleared out and ask what he wants to get -- I'm not stopping more than once."
"You terrify me," Tony disclosed cheerily, helmet sliding back together. She smiled, nice and slow. "Hey, okay, I'm leaving, I'm leaving."
He found Steve a couple blocks away, cowl off for once, corralling a small group of citizens behind the police blockade. One of the women in the group turned around and said something to him, beaming and more than a little star-struck. Steve laughed and she reached up to brush a wayward blond lock back into place; he blushed ferociously.
Tony waited for them to finish talking until Steve turned around and noticed him. He raised a hand in greeting as Steve jogged back over.
"Everything work out smoothly?" Steve asked in his 'Captain' voice.
"Yup, all clear," Tony confirmed through his helmet. "Natasha said it's your night to pick dinner."
"Ah, actually." Steve blushed again, schoolboy grin coming out. "I have a date, so I'm gonna have to skip tonight."
"Okay," Tony said. He turned his commlink back on. "Hey Natasha! Steve's got a hot date, so I get to pick dinner!"
Steve snorted, looking amused. "See you back at the tower?"
"Sure thing, Caps." Tony's faceplate pulled back so he could flash him an exaggerated leer. "Have fun."
"I'm not sure our definitions of fun quite match up, Stark," Steve retorted, cheeks still slightly flushed.
"I hope you're planning on showering before your date, by the way," Tony laughed. "Nothing's more of a turn-off than showing up dirty and sweaty."
"Why do I feel like you’re speaking from experience?" Steve remarked, shaking his head and slinking into the crowd.
"What's wrong with burgers?" Tony asked incredulously, jaw dropping. "They're delicious."
"They're terrible for you," Bruce argued, nevertheless hesitantly opening up the paper sacks and distributing them around the table. "It's going to catch up to you, you know."
"Gummy bear, that hurts," Tony said, jutting out his lower lip. "I am all sexy muscle under this t-shirt, you know that."
Bruce laughed quietly, munching on a carrot. He sobered then, murmuring to Tony, "I'm sorry about the other day, by the way."
"What other day?" Tony asked around a mouthful of fries.
Bruce narrowed his eyes at Tony's display. "I mean about you and your..." Bruce looked unsure of how to continue for a moment. "Friend that is a girl?"
Tony nearly snorted into his coffee. "Bruce-a-roni, you do not have to apologize for anything," he chuckled, licking the salt from his fingers. "It's all good. Like I said: it's just sex."
Bruce shrugged one shoulder, peering at Tony out of the corner of his eye . "You're sure it's nothing serious?"
"I'm pretty sure she's seeing somebody else," Tony divulged with a wry grin. "So yeah, it's pretty much the opposite of serious."
Bruce turned to fully face Tony then, staring at him with an unreadable expression. Tony opened his mouth to crack a joke and Bruce held up a hand, offering, "Celery stick?"
Tony smiled warmly, snatching the offered vegetable up with his teeth.
"Get a room, you guys," Clint laughed, throwing a fry between them.
"Why get a room when I have a whole tower?" Tony shot back, waggling his eyebrows.
Long after everyone had shuffled out and went to bed, Tony sat at the table, staring into his coffee cup. "JARVIS?" he finally called, voice echoing in the empty kitchen.
"Start a list for me, would you?"
"What kind of list?" JARVIS asked.
Instead, Tony said, "Number one: I hate Captain America's stupid fucking hair."
Tony started awake. "Jesus, you asshole," Tony muttered, throwing a pillow in Clint's direction. It, of course, missed. "Why do you live here and not Thor?"
"Because Thor is in Asgard," Clint replied smartly, smacking Tony in the face with his own pillow.
"I'm going to send you to Asgard," Tony warned with a growl, burying his face into the cushions.
"I'm just going to go take a shower," Steve piped up, grip tightening on his duffel bag. He darted across the living area and down the hallway.
"Captain America got laid," Clint catcalled and Tony sat up, hurling the pillow at Clint again.
"You guys are way too fucking loud, I'm going to bed," he grumbled, wiping a hand across his face and stumbling into the hall, as well.
Steve cornered him outside his room.
"Is this weird?" he blurted, looking somewhat like a lost puppy. "The me dating people thing? Should I have told her or something?"
Tony stared at him, one eyebrow raised. "We fuck," he stated simply, arms crossed over his chest. "We're not in love, we're not married; you can date whoever you want, Rogers." He opened his door and slid in, kicking it shut behind him.
"Hey." Steve stormed in after Tony. "What the hell was that? I'm trying to have a conversation with you."
"No," Tony told him, pouring himself a drink. "You want to absolve yourself of any freaky nineteen forties guilt you've got going on and you're using me to achieve it. Newsflash, Cap: I'm not your little Jiminy Cricket and I'm really not in the mood to listen. You did see that movie before you went down in the ice right?"
"You." Steve turned red, glaring down at Tony. He growled, stalking over and snatching Tony's glass from him.
"Oho, mighty Captain America finally speechless."
"Shut up, Tony," Steve said, voice tight and leading him towards the bathroom.
"Shower sex, that one's a new one," Tony drawled, smirking widely. "Expanding our horizons? Practicing for your new girlfriend?"
A little wrinkle appeared in Steve's forehead as he twisted the shower faucet on. He shucked his clothes off and hopped into the shower, daring Tony with his eyes.
"Hey, I am to please, Capsicle," Tony purred, stripping out of his own shirt and jeans. He stepped under the spray and instantly fell to his knees, grabbing onto Steve's hips and turning him to face the other direction.
"What are you--?" Steve started to say and Tony grabbed his ass, spread his cheeks apart and licked a straight trail from his balls to his back. "O-oh my goodness," he choked out, leaning forward and splaying his palms against the tiles.
Tony rolled his eyes half-heartedly, tongue tracing slow circles around Steve's hole; Steve moaned deep in his throat. Pulling back slightly, Tony pressed a soft kiss to his ass before biting down on the tender flesh there.
Steve wrapped a hand around his dick and started pumping.
As he knelt there, licking and sucking and driving Steve to two separate orgasms, Tony felt his chest tighten and wondered if perhaps this was the reason they never faced each other when they fucked.
"See you later guys!" Steve beamed, waving to them as the elevator door closed.
Tony rolled his eyes and continued tapping at his tablet.
"They're cute," Bruce murmured over his laptop, shifting in the loveseat.
Tony looked up then, raising his eyebrows. "Yeah, I guess so," he said after a moment, gathering up his things. "I'm gonna go down to the workshop. Call me if I stay down longer than thirty hours."
Bruce snorted quietly, only because he knew Tony was very capable of spending much longer than that knee-deep in circuit boards.
Natasha, the creepy little Russian spy she was, cornered him in the elevator.
"I am working on your guns," he insisted quickly, shaking his tablet at her.
Natasha looked thoroughly unimpressed. "I know. That's not why I'm here."
Tony looked horrified. "Did Fury finally give you the okay to kill me? Because I haven't actually done anything yet today, so--"
She sighed, eyes drifting skyward. "If it bothers you, you should talk to him," Natasha offered, crossing her arms over her chest.
Tony very cleverly avoided looking at it. "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Natasha raised one eyebrow; Tony gulped. Finally, she said, "Men are stupid. Men are very, very stupid. You have to spell things out to them many times before they understand what's going on. Okay?"
"I'm going to go build things now," Tony answered, scrambling out of the elevator and retreating to his workshop.
Not that he'd ever, ever tell her about that, of course.
"But Pepper," Tony needled, clinging to his phone. "I have things to do. Those people are all boring and stuffy and I hate them."
"I let you skip the last three functions," Pepper reminded him sternly. "And those boring, stuffy people are your investors. You want to keep your investors happy, Tony. Happy investors make me happy. You want me to be happy, don't you, Tony?"
"Have you met Natasha?" Tony asked her, putting the phone on speaker so he could fiddle with some new additions to the Iron Man suit. "I feel like you two would really get along."
"You're going, Tony."
"Ugh, Pep, can't you at least come with me?" Tony slipped his hand into the holographic gauntlet and flexed.
"I am busy running your company," Pepper pointed out; Tony could tell she was rubbing fingertips to her temples. "Take a date if you want, I don't care, just go and make your investors happy so I can be happy, Tony. I want to be happy."
Tony faltered, little beads of light skipping to the floor. "...Are you unhappy, Pep?" he asked quietly, staring down at the phone.
She sighed and Tony could feel how tired she was through the phone. "I'm fine," she said, not unkindly. "But I would be even more fine if you went to the party tonight."
"Okay, Pepper," Tony acquiesced, and Tony felt her smile.
"Thank you, Mr. Stark."
"You're welcome, Ms. Potts."
Tony frowned. "You didn't even let me finish."
"Pepper already called me," Natasha answered smoothly. "She said to make sure you go. She didn't say I had to accompany you."
Tony stuck his tongue out at her, then turned to Bruce before she could cut it out. "Snow cap?" he asked him, batting his lashes.
"Do you just go through the movie candy list for names to call me?" Bruce laughed, smiling brightly at Tony. "I'm sorry, Tony, I'm not very good at parties."
"Seriously? Bruce-y-poo, you break my heart."
"I'll go," Clint piped up, pausing his game.
Tony considered. "Yeah, cool. You own any suits or do we have to take you to the tailor?"
The hideousness of it made Tony want to cry.
So, because Tony was an amazing friend who had access to people who could design masterpieces in a matter of hours, he took Clint downtown to get fitted for a real suit. But, because Tony was also a huge ass, he heckled Clint the whole time, very obviously playing around with the schematics he had on the Clint-beating robot.
"Are you kidding me with the purple?" Tony asked over his tablet, lowering his shades. "The man gets enough of that color at work; throw some blue in there."
Leo scoffed, "He looks fantastic in violet!" nevertheless pocketing the swatches he had.
"He'll also look fantastic in blue," Tony told the man, narrowing his eyes. "I'm not spending my entire evening next to a grape."
"But you always wear red," Leo insisted, skeptically pulling out an assortment of blues. Clint eyed them all somewhat warily. "You'll look fantastic together."
"Fine, I'll wear blue, then," Tony snorted, setting his tablet down and stalking over. He pointed at one of the darker shades. "Use that one; Barton, you're absolutely useless."
"Do you see what I wear on a day to day basis, Stark?" Clint interjected, straight-armed and trying to avoid getting stuck by the skinny intern beneath him.
"Yes and it's a wonder you've managed to survive in the world so far," Tony replied dryly, picking out another handful of colors for Leo.
"I grew up in a circus!"
"That's no excuse and it's really an insult to the clowns, Clint," Tony smirked, slipping Leo his card. "You got all his measurements, Gloria?"
"Oh yes," she murmured smugly, finally standing back to give him one final look. "I got them all, alright."
"You wanna go out for drinks sometime?" Clint asked and she laughed.
"My girlfriend doesn't like to share."
"Damn. Can you blame me for trying?" Clint grinned down at her and she giggled again.
"Have fun at Mr. Stark's booze and schmooze tonight, Mr. Barton," she drawled, flashing him one final smile as she stalked out.
"Booze and schmooze?" Clint questioned, raising an eyebrow over at Tony.
Tony said, "Heavy emphasis on the booze. If I'm lucky, I won't remember anything tomorrow."
"You're terrible, Tony," Leo admonished, returning and placing a quick kiss on the man's cheek.
"Why do I feel like you've called me that behind my back before?" Leo chuckled and Tony shouted, "I want my suit by five, you ingrate!"
"So, uh, what exactly do I have to do?" Clint finally asked, foot bopping semi-awkwardly on his knee.
"You don't have to do anything," Tony said and Clint sighed in relief. "Just have a good time, don't kill anyone, and make sure I don't actually die of boredom. Because that's happened before."
"Sounds simple enough," Clint laughed; the limo pulled to a stop and, before Happy could get out and come around to open the door for them, Clint scrambled out first, turning back to offer Tony his fucking hand.
Tony felt his face freeze. "What are you doing, Barton?" he asked lowly, making no effort to move out of the limousine.
"Helping my date out of the car," Clint replied cheekily, staring down at Tony. "You gonna get out, handsome?"
"I'm going to put a stink bomb under your pillow," Tony hissed. "I'm going to set your arrows to self-destruct when you draw them, I'm going to--" A flash went off and Tony slipped his paparazzi smile on, taking Clint's hand and allowing himself to be pulled out of the limo. "Thanks dear," Tony purred, pecking him on the lips. Clint's smile twitched. "I play gay chicken better than you," he murmured into Clint's ear, settling a hand on the man's back and leading him into the fray.
Tony hated parties.
Well, no, that wasn't entirely accurate. Tony loved his own parties, he just hated everyone else's. These... things Pepper sent him to couldn't even accurately be called that. People were supposed to have fun at parties and this was the exact opposite of fun -- it was full of fake smiles, forced laughter, and biting his tongue from telling various money-grubbing assholes what he really thought about them. Hours later, Tony was still shaking hands and kissing cheeks, and ugh.
"Mind if I borrow him for a minute, ladies?" Clint requested, popping out of nowhere.
Tony started. Damn assassins.
One of them laughed, high and grating. "My, you are too adorable. Tell me, Tony, where did you get this one?"
"Sorry, I don't kiss and tell," he told her with a wink, eliciting another giggle from her and the other older ladies flocked around him. "I think he's feeling lonely, I'll just be a minute," Tony promised, sending them off and turning back to Clint with a sigh of supreme relief. "On second thought, I'll only put the stink bomb under your pillow."
Clint smirked. "You looked like you could use a hand, buddy. I can see why you didn't want to come to this thing alone."
Tony nodded, already making his way to the bar. He ordered three drinks, taking the first two for himself and waving for Clint to take the first.
"Oh, I don't drink on--" Clint started.
Tony rolled his eyes. "This isn't a mission, dumbass. Whatever sorry mess that could potentially attack New York tonight will be no match for the others. Trust me," Tony continued, finishing off his drink and shoving one into Clint's hands, "this will be much easier with a buzz."
Clint surveyed the room warily for a moment before shrugging and downing his drink in a single gulp. "You're right," Clint agreed, grabbing Tony's other glass. "If I have to spend another four hours here, I'm going to need a lot more alcohol."
"No they won't," Clint hissed out, biting on his lip. He poked his head around the corner, slipped the straw in his mouth, and blew. The paper ball hit the old man in the back of the head, right on his bald spot. Clint skittered back out of sight, laughing into his shoulder.
"I hate you, I hate you," Tony sputtered into his palms, shoulders shaking. "Pepper's going to kill me, shit."
"She won't kill you if no one catches us," Clint assured him, already stuffing another shred of napkin into the end of his straw. He shot one down between another woman's breasts, reaching back to high-five Tony as she looked frantically around for the culprit. "How long have we been here anyway?"
"Too long," Tony immediately answered, tapping something into his phone. He tugged on Clint's sleeve, ushering, "Come on, come on, let's blow this popsicle stand."
"I thought you'd never ask," Clint grinned, somehow managing to stay completely upright as they slipped out the back.
"Happy!" Tony crowed, throwing his hands in the air. "I missed you Happy -- take us home?"
Happy smiled indulgently. "Of course, sir. Did you have a good time?"
"An excellent time!" Clint agreed, throwing his arm around Tony's shoulder and stumbling into the limo after him. "Hey. Heeey," Clint whispered, poking Tony's goatee.
"What?" Tony squawked, head lolling against the seat.
"Why didn't you ask your girlfriend to come tonight?"
Tony snorted and pushed Clint off of him. "Not my girlfriend, you asshole."
Clint yelped as he fell to the floor of the limousine. "Well then why didn't you ask your not-girlfriend to come with you?"
Tony raised an eyebrow. "She's seeing someone else."
"Ouch, buddy," Clint sympathized, crawling back up onto the seat. "You okay?"
Tony scoffed, waving a hand. "It was just sex, Barton. You guys put way too much emotion into the stuff."
Clint hummed in thought for a second before flipping over and straddling Tony's waist. "Just sex?" he murmured, quirking a brow of his own.
Tony smiled, wide and dirty, and tilted his head up to capture Clint's mouth; Clint hissed in sharply, tongue sliding across Tony's lower lip. Tony moaned and gripped his ass, grinding their hips together. Clint licked over his teeth before sliding down and across Tony's jaw, nibbling at an earlobe.
Happy was a precious soul (and also very acquainted with Tony's post-party habits), because he just quietly pulled around to the back of the tower when they arrived back home. Tony pushed him up against the wall in the elevator, yanking Clint's jacket open and tugging his shirt out of his trousers.
"I would've pegged you for the straight and narrow," Tony mumbled against Clint's neck, scratching lightly up the man's rib cage.
Clint shuddered. "That's an archer joke, isn't it?" he rasped and tangled his hands in Tony's hair.
Tony smirked. "Yep." The door slid open and Tony led him out, suddenly hesitant. "Good night...?"
"No-fucking-way," Clint laughed, hand wrapping around Tony's tie and leading him across the living area and down the hall to his room. He fumbled with the door knob and practically threw Tony in and on the bed, settling over him warm and solid. Tony groaned and arched up into him. Clint loosened the tie around his neck.
Clint made quick work of Tony's numerous buttons, sliding his suit jacket and shirt off, fingers skittering around the arc reactor. "Is this a no-no zone?" he asked quietly, licking along Tony's collarbone.
"Just don't take it out," Tony requested, only half-joking.
Clint hummed again. "Can do." He slipped his tie off the rest of the way and sat up, staring down at Tony. "Hey, can I tie you up?"
Tony barked out a laugh. "Barton, you kinky son of a bitch. Yeah, fuck." He let out a whoosh of air. "Go for it."
"Awesome, sweet," Clint sang, hopping off and dragging Tony further up the bed. He looped his tie around Tony's wrist, comfortable but snug (fucking super spies), and moved to undo Tony's belt and pants.
"Fuck," Tony growled as Clint swallowed him whole, reaching up to pinch one of Tony's nipples. Clint flattened his tongue and licked up the underside of his cock, mouthing at the head. He pulled off with a wet plop a few minutes later, eyes glittering and full of dirty promises.
"How you wanna do this, Stark?" Clint asked, nuzzling his cheek to Tony's hip. "I can blow, you, obviously, but to be honest," Clint bit lightly at Tony's thigh, "I really want to fuck you."
Tony managed, "Yeah shit, good, whatever you want," and Clint snickered, starting to remove his outerwear. When he was naked, he settled back on top of Tony, brushing their erections together. Tony moaned and tugged at his restraints.
"Easy cowboy," Clint chuckled, reaching around behind Tony's head and grabbing a bottle of lube. He licked his way back down Tony, throwing his legs up and pressing a wet finger deep into Tony's ass. "About those arrows, though," Clint mentioned and Tony threw his head back, squeaking, "Right now? Seriously?"
"Yeah, what better time than when you can't go anywhere?" Clint teased, adding another digit and curling his fingers. Tony wiggled. "I was thinking maybe something that detonated on a timer rather than on impact -- it'd make for really sneaky moves."
"You're all about the sneaky, aren't you Barton?" Tony drawled, holding back another moan as Clint spread his fingers, stretching him. Clint slipped in a third finger and murmured, "How much prep do you need?"
"This is good, fine, great," Tony choked out, jerking his hips in the air. "Sex, please."
"Of course," Clint acquiesced, slipping on a condom and pushing into Tony with surprising finesse.
"Do you ever lose your motor-function?" Tony teased, grunting and attempting to get better leverage.
"I could be drugged to my gills with horse tranquilizers and still manage to shoot a target fifty feet away," Clint grinned, pulling out and thrusting back in.
Tony totally blamed the booze, but he blacked out when he came.
"So were you lucky?" Clint murmured from beside him.
Tony squawked, "What?" and nearly fell off the bed, twisting in the sheets. His head pounded mercilessly and he whimpered, fingertips rubbing at his temples.
Clint laughed, propping himself up on his elbows. "You said if you were lucky, you wouldn't remember anything today."
"Oh." Tony leered, "I guess I was a different kind of lucky."
Rolling his eyes, Clint gave Tony a light shove and rolled out of bed, padding over to the dresser. "You want to do the walk of shame or borrow some of my stuff?"
"I'm pretty sure I'll be shamed either way," Tony laughed weakly, untangling himself from the blankets. Right about now was when the awkwardness generally set in, Tony recalled, suddenly at a loss for words.
However, Clint was never the type to beat around the bush. "So I figure we have three options now," he stated, tossing Tony a pair of sweatpants. "Option one: we never talk about this again. Option two: we give each other crap about it at a later date, but keep it non-awkward."
"What's option three?" he murmured, slipping the pants on and flopping sideways onto the bed.
"We have crazy awesome sex again, duh," Clint supplied, pulling on a t-shirt and throwing another to Tony. He waggled his eyebrows. "You should see what I can do when I'm sober."
"Oh god, I need caffeine before we talk about this kind of stuff," Tony moaned helplessly, crawling back off the bed. "I'll be back."
Tony paused mid-step.
"I had one of those not-girlfriends once," Clint confessed, suddenly serious. "It wasn't supposed to be serious, but." He shrugged one shoulder. "I guess I ended up more attached than she did."
Tony whispered, "Coffee. Then we'll talk, yeah?"
Clint cracked a grin. "Yeah."
Natasha was the only one in the kitchen when she strolled in. She stared at him for what felt like years before muttering, "Men are very, very stupid," and slinking out.
Tony stuck his tongue out at the empty space she left; he turned back to the already brewing coffee pot and sighed happily, reaching into a random drawer and pulling out a bottle of painkillers. He grabbed two mugs, filled them up, and made his way back towards Clint's room.
Then he ran into Steve in the hallway and almost spilled hot coffee down his shirt. "Woah, Cap, sorry about that," Tony laughed, taking a step back.
"Your room's that way," Steve supplied with a tiny grin, pointing in the opposite direction.
"Yeah, I'm going to Clint's room," Tony replied, trying to move around him.
"What?" Steve asked, brows furrowing. He finally seemed to notice Tony, from the borrowed pants and crazy hair to the two cups he was carrying. "Oh," he finally said, jaw tightening and moving past Tony down the hall.
Tony shook his head in frustration; it was way too early for this shit. "JARVIS," he ground out, fingers clenched tight around the mugs.
"Number two: I hate that he doesn't even have to say anything to make me feel like a dick."
Clint took a sip and frowned slightly. "I'm a sniper-slash-archer for a secret intelligence agency. How many actual relationships do you think I've had, now?"
"I would've thought you and Natasha had something going on," Tony joked and dropped his mouth open when Clint's face shut down. "Are you shitting me? You've been with Natasha? So she doesn't kill the people she sleeps with? Wait, does this mean I've indirectly slept with her?"
"It was for a mission!" Clint said heatedly, setting down his cup and stalking back over to the bed.
"Woah, hey, shit I'm sorry," Tony babbled, popping two pills and swallowing a hot gulp of coffee. He slid his cup down next to Clint's and followed him back to the bed. "I told you I was bad at this," he muttered, sitting so they were back to back.
Clint snorted, reaching back to elbow Tony in the ribs. "I'd say it doesn't have to be serious, but with our track records..." Clint huffed a laugh. "Let's just take this and see where it goes?"
"Sounds good," Tony agreed, leaning back to lean his head against Clint's.
Tony paused mid-sauter, turning off the iron and setting it on the worktable. He flipped his visor up. "Didn't quite catch that, Cap," he announced, wiping the sweat from his forehead with his arm.
"Natasha or Bruce?" Steve asked, standing at the entrance to Tony's workshop with his arms crossed over his chest.
Puzzled, Tony cocked his head to the side. He asked, "Natasha or Bruce what, Steve?"
"You're obviously making your way through the team," Steve responded, brows furrowing. "So who're you going to be doing this with next?"
"Get out of my workshop," Tony ordered, clamping a hand on the edge of his table.
"I'm worried about the integrity of the team," Steve plowed on, taking a step closer. "If we can't function as a unit properly--"
"Bullshit." Tony stabbed a finger in Steve's direction. "You sure didn't have a problem with the integrity of the team when you were fucking me up the wall last month."
His face flushed red. "Stark."
"Get out of my workshop!"
"What's going on in here?"
Steve whipped around to see Bruce standing in front of the door.
"I was just leaving," Steve said, brushing past him.
"I hate his goddamn ego!" Tony shouted, smacking his palms to the table.
"Would that be number three, then?" JARVIS asked.
Tony threw a metal pipe at the glass.
Luckily (like Tony), Bruce didn't really give a shit what Fury did or didn't okay.
"Tony, are you alright?" Bruce asked, puppy-dog eyes coming out.
Unfortunately, Bruce also liked talking about feelings and crap.
Tony snorted, swallowing the rest of his drink. "I am like the textbook definition of alright, honey graham; why do you ask?"
"You had some kind of fight with Steve, tried to break the door to your workshop, and now we're flying to Malibu." Bruce raised an eyebrow at him. "Also, you asked Clint to go with you before you asked me."
"Buncha crunch!" Tony scrambled over to the other side of the couch, throwing an arm around Bruce. "I'm sorry, honey oats, I didn't mean to make you feel bad. I just uh... kind of started dating Clint?"
"What?" Bruce asked, pulling back from Tony. "When did that happen?"
"This morning," Tony replied with a cheeky grin.
"Oh my god, what did you two do at that party last night?" Bruce moaned, face scrunching in horror.
"It's what we did after the party," Tony leered, wiggling his fingers at Bruce. "His flexibility is--"
"Nope, I don't want to know!" Bruce cried, a sort of half-grimace, half-grin on his face. He covered his ears with his palms. "No thank you, Tony, no."
"Did you know that Clint can--?" Tony started and Bruce sputtered, "Okay fine, let's talk about that fight you and Steve had." Tony clamped his mouth shut, glaring at the dirty traitor.
"Let's just," Bruce sighed, rubbing between his eyes, "have lunch with Pepper, spend the night in Malibu, and then go home and have a civilized talk with Captain Rogers. Okay?"
"How about instead I never talk to Captain Dickface again," Tony countered. "I hate his stupid face -- JARVIS, do you hear me? JARVIS, I hate Captain America's face."
"Of course, sir."
"Is there anywhere you haven't installed JARVIS?" Bruce wondered incredulously, staring up at the ceiling of the plane.
"Nowhere is safe from JARVIS," Tony whispered darkly, flashing Bruce a toothy grin.
"Jeez, word travels fast," Tony muttered to Bruce, who laughed quietly behind his hand.
"Natasha called me." Of course she did. "What'd you break, Tony?"
"Nothing," Tony told her, sticking his tongue out.
Pepper rolled her eyes. "Who'd you make cry?"
"I haven't actually been on SHIELD property since last Tuesday, thanks. The interns are tear-free."
Pepper heaved a long-suffering sigh. "Did you get someone pregnant?"
Tony leered. "Not unless Clint's hiding a lot more than we thought."
"What?" Tony asked, throwing his arms out and shrugging. "Pep, Pepper, Pepperoni! I can't just pop into Malibu every so often and see my favorite CEO?"
Pepper raised an eyebrow at him, then turned to Bruce. "Why's he really here?"
"Can we at least have lunch first?" Tony flashed his winning smile, the one that always made the ladies turn to putty in his hands. "We haven't done anything just the three of us since the others moved into the tower."
Pepper never was impressed with that particular grin, Tony recalled as she snorted. She turned to Bruce and her face softened. "How've you been, Bruce?"
"Life is never boring with Tony around," he conceded, reaching out and shaking her hand. "And you're doing well, I hope?"
"As well as can be expected given I run a company for a five-year-old," Pepper laughed, shooting a fond glance to Tony when he huffed. "Fine, fine, I can spare an hour. Sushi?"
Tony never could turn down a good cup (or five) of sake. Bruce had tea because Bruce never drank because he worried about silly things like getting drunk and hulking out in restaurants. Pepper had some drink he didn't bother catching the name of, only that it definitely did not have strawberries in it.
"So," Pepper addressed them, placing her chopsticks on the rest. She interlaced her fingers so she could rest her chin on them. "You want to tell me why you're really here, Tony?"
"He got in a fight with Steve," Bruce supplied before picking up his bowl of soup and sipping at it.
"Bruce! Traitor!" Tony accused, pointing a finger at him.
"I'm not going to get on Pepper's bad side, Tony, I'm sorry," Bruce told him with a little laugh.
"What happened to bros before hoes?" Pepper literally growled at him. "I'm going to regret saying that later, aren't I?"
"If later ever comes for you," Pepper threatened, eyes narrowed. She shook her head at him. "You seriously flew across the country because you had an argument with Captain Rogers?"
"I hate him, Pepper." Tony let his shoulders droop, idly tapping his fingers on the table. "I really think I do."
Both her eyebrows raised and her expression turned pensive. "Let's have dinner later, Tony," she suggested, frown softening a few degrees. "How does eight thirty sound? I should be able to make it out of the office by then."
Tony nodded after a moment, waving the waitress over for another round of sake.
Tony made a face at him. "Boyfriend? What is this: middle school?"
Clint returned the expression. "You tell me; you're the one who started dating me then flew to California less than six hours later. Had to get away that soon?" Something shattered in the background and Clint raised an eyebrow, looking behind him; he lowered his voice to a whisper. "What the hell did you do to Steve, by the way? Dude's been stomping around the tower all day."
"Why don't you ask him?" Tony asked snidely, another flash of anger washing over him. "He's the one being Captain Asshole over there."
"I'm not touching that with a ten-foot pole," Clint replied with a grin. "You coming back anytime in the near future?"
"Ehn, probably tomorrow," Tony pondered, finger scratching at his goatee. "That's about the amount of time I should have before Fury starts pitching shit-fits, right?"
Clint snorted, settling back against the loveseat. "Fury's already pitching shit-fits, Stark; it's a little late for that."
"Oh, right, of course, then I'll come back tomorrow morning anyway." Tony laughed, "Hey did you see the Times this morning? They got a pretty good shot of us smooching outside the limo."
"I might have seen that," Clint grinned, flashing teeth. His gaze focused somewhere off-screen and Tony knew he'd started up the Wii. "Got any cool plans tonight?" Clint asked, spooky music starting up.
"Not really," Tony complained, sighing. "Just dinner with Pep later--er." Tony hesitated. "That's okay right?"
Clint's gaze flickered back to Tony for a second and he smirked. "You gonna sleep with her or something?"
"Pff, no," Tony replied, slightly off put. "I'm not a complete whore."
Clint chuckled. "I wasn't saying that. It's fine, Stark." He looked at him again, eyebrows waggling. "Though if you do, please invite me; Pepper's super hot."
"You just have a thing for redheads," Tony shot back with a sly smile and Clint blew kisses at him, flipping up his middle finger. "Bye, asshole."
"Why does everybody keep asking that?" Tony paused mid-sip. He set his wine glass down. "Pep, I'm fine."
Pepper always saw through his bullshit. "How much have you had to drink today?"
"Do we have to do this again? There's nothing to talk about," Tony snapped. "I got into a stupid fight with Captain America. We hate each other; it happens."
"You flew through four time zones to get away from him," she said, pursing her lips. "It doesn't sound very stupid, Tony -- not even for you."
Tony rolled his eyes and propped his chin on the heel of his hand. Staring out the window and down at the murky water below, he murmured, "You think it's possible I'll be able to wake up one day and not completely hate myself?" Tony hummed softly. "At least that's one thing we have in common."
Pepper whispered, "Tony, you're starting to scare me."
"It just happened," he continued in the same near-silent tone. "Cap and I, we're like oil and water. The only time we're civil with each other is when we're fighting with the Avengers." Tony took a deep breath and then, "We had sex. A lot. Everything was fine -- totally fine. Then he started dating Clarissa--"
"Christine," Pepper corrected, otherwise keeping quiet.
Tony scowled for a moment. "Well, I was fine with that, too. Then Clint and I got together and he," Tony took a deep, calming breath, "he barged into my workshop -- in the house I let him live in -- and accused me of fucking my way through the team. What the hell is his problem?"
Pepper took a moment to soak in everything he was telling her. Finally, she asked, "How long were you two sleeping together?"
"Few months," Tony answered.
"Do you want to ask him to leave the tower?" Pepper continued, hands folded neatly in her lap.
"No," Tony said roughly. "He's a part of the team, I can't kick him out. The tower's open to all of the Avengers. Even Thor has a room; he'd just rather stay in Asgard."
"Do you want to leave the team?" Pepper suggested.
"No, I just," Tony's jaw tightened, "I just hate how damn perfect he is. I hate that he'll help little old ladies across the street, but he looks at me like I'm a freaking Nazi." His hands clenched into fists. "I hate his stupid smirk and his asshole laugh and his inability to handle shit like the internet and." Tony grit his teeth together. "I hate that I don't actually hate him."
Pepper stood and slowly walked over, heels clicking on the tile. She leaned over, grabbed his face, and kissed him lightly on the forehead. She brushed his hair back. "I still keep your first arc reactor down in your workshop, you know," she whispered fondly; she wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Believe it or not, you really do have a heart."
Tony grunted, burying his face in her shoulder. She smelled sweet, like roses.
"You should probably tell Clint, at least," Pepper piped up. "He should know what he's getting himself into."
"He sort of knows," Tony admitted, hesitantly pulling back. He rubbed his face wearily. "But, yeah. You're right. You're always right, damn it."
She smiled, pressing her lips to his temple one more time. "I'll see you both off in the morning, okay?"
When Pepper left, Tony sighed. "JARVIS? What number am I up to?"
"Delete the whole thing."
"Of course, sir."
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"I have a confession to make," Tony blurted the next afternoon, cornering Clint in his room.
Clint smacked him. "You had sex with Pepper without me!"
Tony hit Clint back. "No I didn't, ass. This is like, a semi-serious confession."
Clint frowned. "You have an STD?"
Tony grabbed a pillow off Clint's bed and hurled it at his head. Cackling, Clint grabbed him and sent them both sprawling to the mattress. Tony sputtered, a grin sliding onto his face.
"Semi-serious confessions are always best had while laughing," Clint stated, head dropping to the sheets. "What's up?"
"My not-girlfriend," Tony started, hesitating.
"Yeah?" Clint prompted, elbowing him in the side.
Tony swatted at him. "It's Steve. Well, was Steve."
"You're shitting me." Clint scooted up a bit, resting his shoulders against the headboard. "That actually makes a lot of sense." Then he shrugged, saying, "Well, you already know about Nat, so."
Tony propped his head against Clint's shoulder. "Figured you should know."
Clint made a small noise, fingers skimming lightly down Tony's neck; Tony shivered. "Thanks for telling me," he mumbled. He reached his hands down and under Tony's shirt. "Is that why he's been so bratty?"
"I don't know what his fuckin' problem is," Tony muttered into Clint's skin.
Snorting, Clint told him, "I might have a few ideas," and flipped Tony over. He settled heavily on top of him and ground his hips to Tony's. "So, I'm horny," Clint mentioned.
Tony burst out laughing, arching his back up. He grabbed Clint's ass. "Oh, we're gonna get along just fine."
Clint sat up, dragging Tony with him and pulling the man into his lap. Tony kissed him hard and fierce, teeth scraping at Clint's lips. Clint groaned and slid a hand down Tony's front.
Grunting, Tony pushed him forward, holding onto his waist so he didn't fall off the bed. "I'm gonna suck your dick so hard, baby," Tony growled, trapping Clint's legs and going for the button to his pants. "Gonna suck you dry and make you beg for more."
"Oh, dirty talker," Clint moaned, head and neck stretched over the side of the bed. He stared up at the ceiling, eyes darkening. "Totally not complaining, by the way."
Tony smirked and tugged his jeans down and off; he bent over, hot breath tickling him through his boxers. Clint gasped again. Mouthing lightly at the fabric, Tony slid his tongue out and along the length of Clint's cock. "Already hard for me?" he gloated. "I'm impressed."
Clint scoffed, fisting his hand in the sheets. "It's a little hard not to be when you're putting your mouth on it, to be honest." He hitched in a breath when Tony gingerly opened the flap of his boxers, pulled his dick out, and wrapped his mouth tight around it. "Oh Christ. Oh motherfucking, shitting Christ," he ground out, shutting his eyes tight. "Oh, don't stop."
Tony pulled off long enough to say, "Wasn't planning on it," before slipping back on. He curled his tongue around the underside of Clint's cock, bobbing up and down. He groaned deep in his throat, grabbing the base of Clint's dick and twisting his wrist as he sucked.
Clint let go of the bed to grab handfuls of Tony's hair. His arms shook. "Can I fuck your face? I wanna fuck your face."
Tony popped up again, swirling his tongue around Clint's head as he did so. "Go for it," he approved, pupils blown and slipping his hands under Clint's thighs to tug him further onto the bed. Clint flipped up and shifted to his knees, pushing Tony flat on his back and grabbing onto the top of headboard.
Tony swallowed Clint's cock again and Clint tightened his grip on the board; he adjusted his angle on the bed, bit his lip, and thrust up into Tony's mouth.
Tony hummed, relaxing his throat as Clint set a swift, but steady pace. The headboard slammed against the wall with a loud thud, thud, thud and Clint choked out, "Oh fuck yeah, that's it, that's good, shit Tony, your mouth is fucking sinful, that's perfect, oh god."
Tony moaned loudly, fingertips sliding underneath the edge of Clint's boxers and digging into the hard muscle. He thrust his own hips in the air.
Clint's movements quickened; he fucked into Tony's mouth with a constant litany of swear words and praises and Tony grunted, teasing one finger against the edge of Clint's ass. Hissing sharply, Clint thrust into his mouth one, two, three more times then came, shoulders trembling. He laughed gruffly, pulling out and falling on top of Tony. "Let me repay the favor, big boy," he purred and reached into Tony's pants to stroke him off.
A quarter after seven, Tony shot up, trying to smooth the grooves out of his face before stumbling his way up to the kitchen. He made it to the counter before collapsing against it, mumbling, "Coffee," and weakly scratching at the pot.
"Of course, sir," JARVIS replied amused, and Tony nearly cried out in joy when the pot hissed its awakening.
"Jesus, Stark, did you even sleep last night?" Clint asked as he entered the kitchen.
Tony slowly turned to face him, face scrunched in thought. He probably looked like shit. "I think so," he finally admitted, straightening to grab a mug. "Coffee?"
"Sure, thanks," Clint grinned, digging into the fridge for something -- probably milk. "You finished my new arrows yet?"
"Sex does not guarantee you a faster product, Barton," Tony sniffed. "Quality over quantity."
Clint raised an eyebrow at Tony. "Really, because I recall Steve getting at least three separate armor upgrades while you two were--" Tony threw a spoon at him, but Clint (the little shit) caught it easily. "Relax, I'm just messing with you, cranky pants."
Tony snorted, grabbing his cup full of life and shuffling over to the table. He settled heavily against the chair and squawked when Clint slid onto his lap, bowl of cereal and coffee in either hand.
"Jerk ass," Tony grumbled, taking a sip.
"Sexy ass," Clint corrected, leaning against him more fully when Natasha stalked in, immediately heading for the pot. "Morning, Nat!" he greeted around a mouthful of Cheerios.
She offered them both a strange look. "Good morning," she said slowly, pouring herself a cup and sitting opposite them. "We have a meeting with Fury in an hour, Clint," she then said, as if it were totally natural for two grown men to be sharing one of Tony's (admittedly structurally sound, but nonetheless not designed for two) kitchen chairs.
Clint made a face. "My life is filled with joy."
Tony's eyes drooped and he propped his face up on one hand. "Clint, you should get me more coffee."
"What? No way, I'm eating, Stark."
"You're sitting on me, you ass."
Steve walked in then, post-workout; he had a white towel around his shoulders and was currently dabbing his forehead with it. "Oh," he said slowly. "Morning, everyone."
"Morning," Clint sang, waving his fingers at Steve. He hopped up, snatching Tony's empty cup up with him.
Tony sighed gratefully when Clint brought back the sweet beverage, wincing again when Clint sat back down on him. "You're heavy," he whined, weakly shoving at Clint's hip. "Move, fat ass."
"Sexy ass," Clint repeated smugly, eyes darting back to Steve, who was still somewhat frozen in the entryway. "Obama repealed Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Captain -- no worries."
At Steve's continued silence, Tony swatted his ear lightly. "He obviously doesn't know what that is, dumbass."
"You really like my ass," Clint leered and Tony snorted at him.
"No, I know what it is," Steve said suddenly, breaking out of his stupor. He pulled a weak grin onto his face. "Sorry, I was just a little surprised."
"You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?" Tony muttered lowly in Clint's ear.
Clint smirked. "Maybe," he shot back.
Natasha rolled her eyes and stood, leaving without another word.
"Seriously, Barton, get off or I'm going to put motor oil in your pillowcase," Tony growled, rubbing at the sleep in his eyes. "You've got a date with Fury, anyway."
Clint laughed and spooned the last bite of cereal in his mouth; he ruffled Tony's hair (Tony cautiously allowed it, but still smacked him afterward) and padded out, yawning and stretching his arms over his head.
"So are you and Clint...?" Steve looked like a little puppy.
"We're seeing how it goes," Tony shrugged, finishing his second cup. He got up and JARVIS (god bless him) already had a new pot brewing. "Look, Cap, I know we don't get along like, at all," Tony scrubbed a hand over his face, "but can you leave Clint out of it? Be pissed at me all you want, I don't care--"
"Okay," Steve interjected, finally entering the kitchen.
"--just... What?" Tony asked, head tilted to the side.
"Okay," Steve said again, that same lost look on his face. "I'm sorry, Tony, I shouldn't have said what I said to you in the workshop, I--"
Tony clapped him on the shoulder before he could continue. "It's okay, Steve." And it really wasn't, but Tony hated apologies and just. Hearing it would make it a whole lot harder to remember why they weren't making the beast with two backs anymore. "It's okay," he murmured again, fingers flexing a moment before he grabbed his cup and fled.
Tony was very proud of himself for not weeping like a little girl.
However, such small graces weren't meant to last.
Clint and Fury both agreed, however (damn it Clint) that it wasn't in the team's best interests to keep Hawkeye and Iron Man paired during fights. The Hulk didn't really do the whole 'duo' thing well, Thor only came in on special missions, and Black Widow and Hawkeye were perhaps the most efficient two-person team one could have. That just left Captain America and Tony reluctantly admitted to himself that while Steve and Tony got on as well as two wet alleycats in a sack full of fish, Iron Man and Captain America were a fantastic match.
"On your six!" Steve shouted in the commlink; Tony whirled around and fired a repulsor cannon at the robot skulking up behind him. "How many of these greaseballs have we got left, Iron Man?"
"A little over sixty," Tony replied, stomping on another robot then using the scrap metal to beat at a third with. "Shouldn't take more than ten minutes, really."
Steve laughed quietly. He hurled his shield through a stack of robots, arm stretching up to catch it on the return. Steve did a little flip onto the roof of a random car left on the street and charged through another two robots, grinning as the metal squealed open beneath his shield.
Tony paused mid-fire, dropping his hands and staring down at the asphalt. Then he yelled, "Guys, guys, get off the street!" and powered up his boots, flying towards Steve.
"What's going on?" Steve asked, knocking back a robot trying to sneak up behind him.
"There's something big coming up from the sewers!" Tony growled and the street literally cracked open, black mecha-tentacles slithering up through the holes in the pavement. One of them curled around the car Steve was standing on, metal crunching and shrieking under the strain. Another shot up and dived at Steve.
Tony shot a repulsor beam at it, but it twitched back, hissing steam. "Goddamn it!" Tony cursed, charging up his cannon again. "Cap, hold your shield out a thirty degree angle, but point it towards the ground."
"What?" Steve shouted back and Tony called, "Just do it!" Tony flipped his palm out, fingers down, and fired a shot at Steve's shield, sending him flying through the air. Screeching to a halt, Tony had enough time to fire a missile at the mechanical appendage before another one slid up from underneath and coiled around him.
"Stark!" Clint hissed in his ear. "Where the hell are you?"
"Little tied up at the moment, sugarpie," Tony grunted, switching off the mic.
"Sir," JARVIS interrupted, and there was a hint of distress in his tone. "The suit will not be able to handle this amount of pressure for very long."
"Iron Man, do you read?" Steve barked over the link.
"Yeah, I kind of figured that out already," Tony hissed, shooting another missile at the road where the arm had crawled out. An electric current crackled out from the gash Tony created; it slid tiny shocks against his arc reactor and Tony gasped, bellowing, "JARVIS! A little help here!"
"The Hulk and I are going down to street-level," Steve was calling over the comm. "Hawkeye, Black Widow, fall back and cover us -- take out whatever we leave behind."
"Sir, your suit is--"
"I can read, JARVIS!" Tony tried to fire another shot at the base of the tentacle, but another slipped up and yanked his arm backwards. Tony screamed, "Fuck!" He fired his boots at the asphalt, but the stubborn little suckers held on tight.
"JARVIS," Tony finally croaked; his screen displays wavered, various scrolls of code fluctuating in and out. "Remember that program I developed the last time someone tried to steal my suit?" The AI was silent. "How long would it take to boot up?"
"Sir, I don't think that--"
"No one is getting my goddamn suit and I'm damn sure not going to die like this!" Tony closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. "How long do we have until this thing crushes me?"
"All systems will be rendered completely nonfunctional in about eight minutes, sir."
"Then set the program to run in five." When JARVIS didn't immediately answer, he barked, "JARVIS!"
"Five minutes, sir. Shall I release the ataractics?"
"Yeah, that's good, thanks, JARV'," Tony mumbled, inhaling deep. "I'm glad I built you," he continued quietly.
"It has been a true honor to have served you, sir," JARVIS whispered. When Tony didn't reply, JARVIS called again, "Sir? Sir?"
As Tony's world faded to black, he wondered numbly what Yinsen would've said had he been there.
"Tony? Tony, calm down."
Tony looked up and to his left; Clint was sitting there, hair wild and eyes smudged with dark purple fatigue. Pepper was asleep in a chair a few feet away, neck bent and heels suspiciously missing.
"Jesus, Stark," Clint laughed, rubbing his hands over his face. "You ever going to get tired of doing this shit?"
Tony smiled weakly, eyes crinkling at the edges. "Probably not," he admitted, leaning back against the pillows. He coughed dryly and Clint handed him a cup of water. Taking a small sip, he asked, "What happened after that anime porn gone wrong attacked?"
Clint's lips thinned. "Hulk and the Captain smashed through the brunt of it and we supplied cover while the Hulk dropped down into the sewers and took out the main core of the... robot." Clint slouched into his chair then, staring at the wall. "By the time we got over to where you were, Steve had already pulled you out and your suit--" Clint's head whipped back to face him and he glared at Tony. "The damn thing had exploded, Stark. What the fuck?"
"The enemy doesn't get my stuff," Tony ground out, staring sternly down at Clint. "Never again."
Clint stared at Tony for another minute, expression tense. "Yeah, whatever," he finally grumbled. "Steve wants to get you debriefed and shit, so I guess I'll give you to him for a minute. I need some coffee." He stalked out and Tony held back the snide remark on the tip of his tongue.
"He didn't leave your side the whole time, you know," Pepper told him, finally stirring. "Even after Fury threatened to bench him for the next few missions." She sat up, trying to claw her hair back down. "Captain Rogers actually tried to get in here, too, but the doctors didn't want a crowd, so we decided on just me and Clint."
"Oh," Tony said dumbly, fiddling with the itchy hospital blanket. He stared down at his chest. "So what's the damage report?"
Pepper frowned. "Three broken ribs, right shoulder dislocated, left wrist fractured, second-degree burns, you had a little internal bleeding, a minor concussion, some strained ligaments, and your damn arc reactor nearly failed, Tony. You've been in and out for the past few days." She stomped her stockinged foot on the ground. "When are you going to stop worrying everyone in your life to death?"
"The arc reactor was supposed to blow up when the countdown finished," Tony muttered to himself. Then he continued, "It was me or Cap, Pepper. I could at least fly."
"Yes, your power of flight did you so much good!" Pepper snapped. "I don't know how Clint puts up with this crap, Tony, I really don't, because I couldn't when I was dating you and I still can't even now."
"Well, it's a good thing we're not dating anymore, isn't it?" Tony snarled. "Now you really don't have to give a shit."
"You're not expendable, Tony."
"Neither is he!" Tony exploded. "Tony Stark not recommended, remember? Anyone can fly the suit, Pep; we're not exactly overflowing with Captain Americas. I'm not gambling with anyone else's life here, and when push comes to shove, I'm definitely not going to make that call."
Pepper strode over, wrapping her arms tightly around Tony and whispering, "Stupid man." She kissed him on the cheek and left, shutting the door firmly behind her.
Steve popped in a second later, cautious. "I didn't want to interrupt," he said.
Tony waved him over. "Yeah, it's fine, it's fine, just come in and let's get this over with."
Steve shook his head. "I already filed your report, Tony. I just wanted to talk."
"No, oh my god, why?" Tony moaned, head falling back against the pillow. "Okay, yeah, shit, more talking, fine. How'd you even get me out of the suit, anyway?"
"JARVIS hacked the comm and told me how to," Steve whispered, sitting down in the chair beside him, the one Clint had been in when he'd woken up. "Seriously, Tony? You set your suit to self-destruct?"
"I'd rather die in pieces than let the bad guys get any more weapons from me," Tony murmured wearily. How many times did he have to say it before they got it?
"That's not good enough," Steve hissed, pressing his fists into his thighs. "You're part of a team, Tony. That means you have to trust us."
"Last year, you were going to let me fly a missile into space and die with everything else," Tony accused.
"I am sorry for that," Steve gritted out through his teeth, like it was painful for him to admit. "I would do it again differently, given the chance."
"Hindsight's always twenty-twenty, right?" Tony snipped, eyes on the ceiling.
Steve sighed. "When I was flying down into the ocean, with everyone else on the line with me," he started quietly, gaze locked on Tony's arc reactor. "I thought, 'This is it. I'm never going to Bucky's funeral, never going on a date with Peggy, never going to learn how to dance. I'm going to die'. It was one of the worst things I've ever felt." He exhaled again, eyes fluttering shut. "I don't want us to hate each other anymore. I. Can we start over?"
Tony slowly turned to look at him, eyes searching and just a little wide.
Steve held out his hand. "Hi. I'm Steve Rogers."
The corner of Tony's mouth twitched and fumbled with the the shoulder immobilizer for a moment before realizing Steve had offered him his left arm. Tony took his hand, clasping it firmly. "Tony Stark," he introduced. "You know, you look like an old war buddy of my father's."
"Yeah?" Steve asked, laugh barely on the right side of hysteria.
"Oh yeah," Tony confirmed, nodding. "He was a real asshole."
Then the elevator door opened into Tony's fabulous living room and he'd never been so grateful to see his fabulous couch and Tony nearly skipped over to it and sunk down into the comfy cushions.
Then Steve buckled over at the waist with uncontrollable laughter and Tony realized he'd said that whole monologue out loud.
"Quiet, peasant!" Tony barked, jabbing a finger at the super soldier. "I will speak how I wish in my tower!"
Clint snorted and came around the other side of the couch, curling against Tony's (mostly) uninjured side. "So what're you gonna do with all this free time, buddy?" he asked him. Tony leered down at Clint; Clint swatted at his thigh. "Better find somebody else to help you out, then. 'Takes four to eight weeks for broken ribs to heal."
"It doesn't hurt my ribs to suck my dick," Tony suggested, voice low and dirty and Bruce shouted, "TMI!", clamping his hands over his ears.
Natasha teleported in front of him, moving to sit beside Clint, and Tony narrowed his eyes. "Have you been here the whole time?" he accused; she raised an eyebrow, lips twitching faintly in amusement.
Steve, having recovered from his terrible giggle-fit, stretched out on the loveseat. "Movie?" he suggested, waiting for the others' approval.
"Brokeback Mountain," Natasha immediately said.
"No!" Tony, Clint, and Bruce all chorused at once.
"Why not?" Steve asked, inquisitive, and Tony sighed heavily.
"Because you will cry and I am not in the right mental capacity to handle that," Tony said; Clint snickered, thumb brushing the patch of skin between Tony's shirt and jeans.
"The Walking Dead," Natasha proposed next.
"Oh my god, you're so funny," Tony laughed at her. "Have you ever considered standup?"
"You're getting real ballsy, Stark," Natasha whispered, eyes narrowing over at him.
Later, Tony would probably have to sleep with one eye open, but right now he was pumped so full of drugs that he couldn't find it in him to care. "Let's watch something funny: Jackass."
"Only you would think that's funny," Bruce commented dryly.
"No, no, I think it's great, too," Clint grinned and Bruce looked horrified.
"No," he whispered, staring at the two of them, shaking his head slowly. "No I cannot handle two Tony Starks, I can't, I'm sorry."
"Jeepers Creepers," Natasha said.
"Jesus, Natasha do you do anything that's not terrifying?"
"We're watching Alvin and the Chipmunks," Bruce said and well, that was that.
Once there, Tony walked in, sat down on his stool, and just breathed, inhaling all the familiar scents, soaking in the energy of home.
"JARVIS?" he called out, minutes, hours, days later.
"Thanks for telling Steve how to get me out of the suit."
I was going to be mean to you guys and end the chapter after the battle scene, buuuuut it wasn't long enough so I added in a little more for a little less cliffhanger c:
whoops I accidentally :D
Clint threw a cheeto at him; Tony scowled, looking up from his tablet.
"You need to eat, Tony," Steve said, arching a brow. He set a sandwich down in front of him.
Tony glared between them. "I don't like it when you two work together," he decided and, still peering at them menacingly, grabbed the sandwich and took a large bite.
Steve beamed and tucked into his own freakishly large lunch.
"So, anywho," Clint piped up, licking the artificial orange from his fingers. "Nat and I are leaving for a six-something week covert ops tonight."
"What?" Tony asked, staring across the table at Clint. Steve looked up from his sandwich, looking like he'd very much like to sneak out before Tony started throwing shit. "Think you could've wait a little longer to tell me, there, champ?" Tony drawled, voice coated in sarcasm.
"Eh, you know me," Clint grinned, shrugging. "But hey, Fury was going to make us ship out when we figured out you weren't actually dying." Clint glared mildly at Tony for a second. "It pretty much took the entire team threatening to quit to make him postpone it till today."
Tony huffed, then set his tablet down on the table by his half-eaten sandwich. Scooting his chair closer to Clint's, he grabbed his shoulder and leaned in, murmuring, "You could've told me earlier, you know."
"Didn't want you to stress," Clint replied, knocking his head lightly to Tony's. "Besides, as totally awesome as you're-going-away-for-awhile-let's-have-a-ton-of-sex is, it wouldn't be fair to either of us since you're pretty much broken from the waist up."
"I resent that, asshole," Tony grumbled, smacking Clint with his cast.
"You've got to stop fetishizing my butt, Stark."
Tony gave Steve a little left-handed wave as he entered the workshop. "Eh, you're not responsible for making Clint tell me shit; 's all good, Cap."
Steve peered over at Tony and frowned, a little furrow appearing between his brows. "Shouldn't you be wearing your sling, Tony?"
"Pff, nah, hospital instructions are a mere guideline, at best," Tony insisted, fingers flicking through the holographic schematics. "Besides, it sticks my arm too far out. 'Can't do anything with it like that."
"It's supposed to help your ligaments heal correctly," Steve told him sternly. He grabbed the... contraption off the worktable and held it out for him. "Put your sling on, Tony."
"You're not my real dad!" Tony shot back, making a childish face. "Unless you and my dad had 'fondue' together back during the war--"
"He did not tell you that story," Steve blurted, horrified.
"--in which case I do not ever want to know ever. Don't tell me, don't even think about telling me, because gross. I don't want to know. Ever. Did I mention ever?"
"Tony... how many painkillers did you take, exactly?" Steve asked him, slowly, raising one eyebrow.
Tony smiled, wide and bright and flashing teeth.
"Sir," JARVIS called; Tony looked up at the security feed the AI was pulling up. "It would seem Thor is on the balcony outside the living area."
"Thor!" Tony cried gleefully, shutting down his plans with a flick of his hand, bounding out the workshop and over to the elevator.
"Steve," Tony parroted. He rolled his eyes, then held his arm slightly away from his side. "Well, come on. This thing's a bitch to put on by myself."
Steve snorted, sliding in closer and tucking the abduction pillow between Tony's forearm and ribs; Steve buckled him in at the waist then secured his arm in its brace in before finally sliding the shoulder strap around Tony's neck. He fiddled with with the the way it sat against Tony for a minute and then stepped back, nodding at his handiwork.
"There," Steve told Tony, expression warm. "Perfect."
Tony sucked in a tight breath; he turned on his heel and sang, "Thor's here!", practically dancing into the waiting elevator.
"Thanks for coming on such short notice, Thor," Steve said, grabbing Thor in a one-armed hug.
"Afraid so, buddy," Tony agreed, gesturing to his arm. "I'm a little dinged up and armor-less right now."
Thor's eyes widened and he stared down at Tony. "You are injured, my friend! What has happened?"
"Gee, they don't tell you anything, do they?" Tony grumbled. He gestured Thor to step closer. "C'mon, Thor, buddy, pal, no use standing outside when it's so awesome inside. Let's chat, catch up -- and holy shit, Natasha's blonde."
Natasha arched a perfectly manicured eyebrow at him. "I'm Swedish."
"Okay," Tony accepted instantly, grabbing Thor with his good hand and dragging him towards the kitchen. "Have fun at the bathhouse, then. See you in six weeks!"
"We must not be rude," Thor insisted, reaching towards Natasha, hand outstretched. "Jane tells me on Earth that a handshake is an acceptable greeting for a fellow female warrior."
She smiled, offering him her own hand. "It's fine," she confirmed. "How have you been, Thor?"
"Excellent! I dare not complain," Thor boomed, setting his hammer down on Tony's coffee table, which promptly shattered. He looked appropriately contrite. "I apologize for your table, Tony."
Tony wiggled his cast in the air. "It's fine, totally fine. It was ugly anyway; I'll just buy a new one."
Bruce popped in then, because the man had a six sense for these things. Or could just hear things breaking. Tony preferred to assume the former. "Hello, Thor," he greeted with a smile. "How are you?"
"I have been wonderful! How fares your beast?" Thor grinned, clapping him on the shoulder. Bruce buckled under the force of it and nearly fell to the floor.
Natasha caught him, placing a steadying hand to his back. "You alright?" she asked.
Bruce laughed, "I'm fine. The big guy's fine. There's been only one incident." He settled back against the couch, flopping over the arm and letting his feet dangle to the floor. "I may need a minute to make sure it's not two, though." The room fell silent for a second.
"He's totally kidding," Tony slid in, shaking his head at them. "How do you guys not get that?"
"Ah, you must all regale me with your tales later then," Thor encouraged, placing his hands firmly on his hips (Tony hoped it was to avoid smashing more valuable items).
"Regale," Tony repeated. "That means party, right? I could do a party."
"I see how it is." Clint swooped in and pecked Tony on the lips. "I leave and you throw a party. You're a terrible boyfriend."
"I gotta take someone to the sock hop, Barton. Sorry." Tony chuckled, pulling him for another kiss. "You're gonna have to settle for second place."
"Ouch, Stark," Clint mumbled against his lips, and Thor let out an excited whoop.
"The Iron Man and Hawk are in love!" Thor threw his hands in the air. "Magnificent! All the more reason to throw a celebration."
Tony froze, looking a bit like a deer caught in the headlights.
"I wouldn't go that far, Thor," Clint smirked, punching the demigod lightly in the arm. "Lots of great sex, though. And you guys are gonna have to start the party without Natasha and I -- we're leaving in a few hours."
"This is unfortunate," Thor commented, looking forlorn for a beat. Then he brightened. "I will feast in your honor tonight, Clint Barton and Natasha Romanoff!"
Natasha inclined her head. "You're sweet," she told him and patted his cheek once.
"How come Natasha never does non-scary things to me?" Tony wondered aloud and wasn't even a bit surprised when no one answered.
"Hey, Cap, gotta minute?" Clint asked, already heading to the kitchen.
"Uh, yeah sure," Steve replied and followed him out, a curious look on his face.
Tony spared them a glance before turning back to Thor. "Buddy, man, are you going to be excited for the room I had done up for you. Come on, come on, let's go see. Bruce, Natasha, you wanna come?"
"I still have more to pack," she declined and Tony totally suspected she meant creepy assassin weapons.
"Spoilsport," Tony muttered, then, "Bruce?"
"I'm good here!" Bruce waved from the cushions.
"Rude, ungrateful, inexcitable, all of you," Tony teased, shooing Thor ahead of him and down the hall.
Later, when Tony was kissing Clint goodbye, he asked him, "So what'd you and Cap talk about?"
Clint smiled fondly, hands cupping Tony's face and letting their foreheads rest against each other. "Just to tell him to make sure you don't drink while you're on your medication."
"Damn, Barton, no sex, no booze -- what am I even supposed to do while you're gone?" Tony murmured, biting at the man's lip.
Clint snorted and ruffled Tony's hair. "If you're lucky, we'll be able to fuck like really horny rabbits by the time I get back."
"Promises, promises," Tony chanted. "I'm totally going to invent something to jack me off while you're gone."
Clint smirked, blew him a kiss, and headed for the elevator.
Bruce spared him a quick glance before returning to his notes. "Clint's been gone two days. If you're that bored, why don't you take a bath? You kind of reek, Tony."
Tony pouted. "Do you know how hard it is to shower with three broken ribs, a dislocated shoulder, and a broken wrist?"
Bruce set his pen down, a small concerned smile slipping onto his face. "That's why I said bathe. Do you want some help?"
"No, no I got this." Tony's eyes narrowed over at Bruce. He could damn well take a bath on his own.
"Are you sure...?" Bruce asked, doubtful.
"I said I got it; promise, sugar-bean," Tony insisted, fingers tightening over the ice. He slipped his feet off the coffee table, slowly and carefully, and stood, making his way towards his bedroom. "JARVIS, will you--?"
"The bath is already filling, sir," JARVIS replied.
"Best AI ever," Tony whispered gratefully, pacing down the hallway. There was an awkward moment where he had to toss the ice pack on his shoulder to get to the door knob, but he kicked it open a second later and slipped in. Tony dropped the pack on the floor and tugged on the drawstring of his sweatpants, gasping as he tugged them off.
"This sucks, JARVIS," Tony croaked, slowly unstrapping the shoulder immobilizer. The sling fell to the floor, as well, and Tony one-handed yanked his shirt over his head, gritting his teeth as the fabric snagged a burn.
"At least you're not dead, sir," JARVIS replied dryly; the sounds of running water abruptly stopped. "The bath has finished filling."
"Yeah, well I wish I was dead," Tony muttered under his breath.
"I'll make a memo, then," JARVIS drawled.
"So rude," Tony snorted, walking into the bathroom and eyeing the tub dubiously. "This seemed a lot easier in my head," he mentioned.
"Shall I call Dr. Banner?" JARVIS asked cautiously.
"No, no, I got this," Tony said, sitting on the rim of the tub and dunking one foot in the water. He sighed. "I got this," he repeated, the other foot following. "Fuck, I can do this."
"Jesus, Tony, you're going to break your neck."
Tony turned his head to see Steve standing in the doorway, horrified.
"Sorry," he immediately stammered. "The door was open and I heard you cursing -- I just wanted to make sure you were alright and--"
Tony rolled his eyes skyward. "It's not like you've never seen me naked before, Cap."
Steve blushed, but snapped out of his ramblings. He eyed Tony's cast. "Hold on just one second," he started, pointing a finger at Tony. "I'll be right back."
He returned a few minutes later with a plastic shopping bag. "Bucky broke his leg once when we were kids," Steve supplied, tying the bag around Tony's arm. "Had to wrap it up every time he had to shower. It was pretty terrible."
"Oh." Tony frowned, looking off to the side. "Well, thanks. I'm just gonna take a bath now, then." He stared at Steve, waiting for him to leave.
"How exactly are you going to get in there, let alone wash yourself?" Steve asked, one brow raised.
Tony scoffed, "I'm fine," but Steve had already come around, one hand slipping under his uninjured shoulder, the other settling on his hip.
"It's fine, Tony," Steve told him, as if it were perfectly natural to be helping a beat up, ex-fuck buddy into a bathtub. "You can trust me."
Tony grit his teeth together, cheeks burning with embarrassment. "I feel like a dog," he hissed as Steve scooped up a handful of water to wet his hair with.
"Yeah, well, you kind of look like one," Steve returned, staring pointedly at the week-old scruff on his face. "Want me to get your electric razor after this?"
Tony glowered. "Maybe," he admitted lowly; Steve squeezed a dollop of shampoo onto Tony's hair and began to massage it in. This was so humiliating.
"Don't worry about it," Steve said suddenly; Tony glared at him out the corner of his eye. "No, seriously, Tony. How are you supposed to do this with both arms out of commission?"
Tony huffed, eyes sliding closed as Steve poured more water over his head. "I hate feeling helpless," Tony admitted quietly.
"I know," Steve whispered.
"Excuse me for trying to help you out," Steve shot back, affronted.
"I'm not an invalid," Tony growled, glaring at the super soldier. "I built an arc reactor in a cave hooked up to a damn car battery."
"You could use your arms then!" Steve faltered for a second. "Couldn't you?"
"What, you didn't read my file?" Tony seethed; he dug his fingernails into the table.
Steve glowered, setting down a plate and glass in front of him. Then he slammed the pill bottle down, grinding his teeth as he heard the plastic crack. "Just take your damn pain meds, Stark," he hissed, stalking out.
"I do not understand," Thor piped up, still in the midst of eating an entire chicken, and Tony started; he'd forgotten Thor was there. "The good captain merely wishes to help you become well again. Why does your ire grow at his assistance?"
Tony opened his mouth, suddenly at a loss for words. Finally, he croaked, "When you say it like that, you make me sound like the asshole."
"Not at all," Thor asserted, turning to face Tony fully. He patted him lightly on the back, careful of the sling. "I, too, in my youth cared deeply of my own pride. But in my desire to prove my worth, I was blinded to the things that are truly important."
Tony was going to regret asking this, but, "And what is it that's important?"
Thor smiled brilliantly. "Family. Friendship. Love," he answered.
Tony was certain he had a joke about Thor's brother in there somewhere, but he couldn't force the words past the sudden sour taste in his mouth.
Steve glanced at Tony out of the corner of his eye, then resumed watching some weird documentary on eighteenth century art.
"The spaghetti was good," Tony continued in that same, quiet tone.
Steve looked at him again, but a small smile slipped onto his face. "Yeah?" he asked.
"Yeah," Tony confirmed, fingers fiddling against his thigh.
"I was ready the second you guys put it on," Tony said bluntly and Steve snorted. "No seriously, why am I here with you quacks when I could easily go somewhere they wouldn't care what I did with my arm?"
"Tony," Steve admonished, all mother-hen face.
"Whatever, shut up, I'm bringing Bruce next time. Jerk."
She chuckled at them, slowly peeling back the velcro of the straps. "I'll give you a new list of exercises that'll help increase your range of motion. How have the other exercises been working for you?"
Tony shrugged his good arm. "I squeeze a stress ball; I bend my wrist and elbow. It's about as exciting as it can get."
She hummed, slowly straightening his arm and bending it at the elbow. She started slowly lifting his elbow and stopped about shoulder height; Tony's lips thinned. "How's that feel?" she asked.
"Tight," he answered gruffly.
The doctor nodded. "Alright. Captain, I expect you and the other Avengers will make sure he completes his physical therapy at home?"
"Of course, ma'am," Steve answered, smiling down at her.
Tony snorted. "Yeah, cool, are we done here? I am seriously jonesing for a cheeseburger."
Steve literally threw his head back and heaved a full-body sigh. He was probably thinking something along the lines of 'why did I get myself into this mess?' and Tony wanted to cackle at his self-induced misfortune.
She grinned again, visibly amused. "Alright then, I'll see you in another two weeks to check on your ribs, permitting nothing else happens to you."
Tony smirked. "You don't sound very convinced of my ability to keep out of trouble."
She raised an eyebrow, pushing her glasses up over the bridge of her nose. "Have a great day, gentlemen."
Tony stuck his tongue out at her retreating back before sliding off the table. He started slowly lifting his shoulder again and stopped halfway, a soft whoosh of air escaping his lips.
"How's it feeling?" Steve asked as they left the medical center.
"Ehn," Tony responded, waving his cast. "It's sore. I'll get over it."
Steve blew his cheeks up with air to stop the retort at his lips. Then, he said, "Yeah, okay, so lunch?"
"Yes," Tony agreed vehemently, pointing at Steve. "And then we're going home, I'm taking Bruce down into the workshop, and we're going to do creepy science things all night." Steve's expression turned peculiar for a moment and Tony squawked, "What? I said I'm taking Bruce -- he's gonna be the one doing the hulk-lifting."
"Nothing," Steve said warmly, hands jammed into his pockets. "You said burgers?"
"Greasy ones," Tony ordered, narrowing his eyes suspiciously.
Nugget was off playing with Dummy (read: keeping Dummy from hosing down everyone with the fire extinguisher again) and Em and Nem were scuttling about the workshop, little scrub brushes hacking at the muck and grime Dummy always left behind. Buddy and Toot were upstairs doing only god knows what.
"How many of these exactly are you planning to make, Tony?" Bruce asked with a short laugh, flipping up his visor.
Tony paused, fingers covered in grease and eyebrows slightly singed. He looked down at his newest creation: a little window-washing bot that just happened to shoot foam darts at you if it were feeling particularly playful. He counted briefly in his head -- this was his sixth one.
"As many as it takes," he answered ominously.
Bruce blinked, slow and deliberate, smile taking a concerned edge. "Takes to what...?" he asked, biting his cheek to hold back his giggles.
Tony snickered, grabbing a relatively clean rag and wiping up his new robot.
“Sometimes I just can't with you," Bruce mused, lips twitching as he turned back to the gauntlet he was working on. "Er, how's this looking?"
"It looks fine, babycakes," Tony grinned, gaze not wavering from his new robot. "For a nuclear physicist, you make a damn fine engineer."
"Oh, you know," Bruce said with a wave of his hand, "it's just a weekend thing."
"Thanks," Tony blurted suddenly. Bruce paused, setting down the wiring. "For, you know, coming down here and shit."
Bruce smiled. "Anytime, Tony." He glanced at the clock. "It's about time to take your fancy collection of pills, by the way. Go upstairs and eat something."
"Bossy," Tony noted, already wiping his forehead off with the edge of his tee. "Want anything?"
"Tea, if you don't mind," Bruce requested, clicking the panel of the gauntlet back in place. "You're going to have to integrate the repulsor technology yourself when you get back, though. I'm not doing anything more complex than surface work."
"Yes, dear," Tony teased, patting the robot on the head. Its eyes flashed, booting up, and began to float in the air, little whirring noises sounding in a pseudo-greeting. "Hey there little cutie-pie," Tony whispered. "Welcome to the land of the living."
It popped a little dart at his cheek affectionately.
Tony beamed and left the workshop, gesturing for it to follow.
When he got to the kitchen, Thor was next to the fridge, hands high above his head and eyebrows raised to his hairline. "I believe I have upset your magic metal pet," he called, slowly turning to face Tony.
The robot, perched high on top of the freezer, took that opportunity to squirt him in the ear.
"What'd you do to my robot?" Tony asked, padding over and raising his cast for the little guy to crawl on. He set it back on the counter where it happily resumed polishing the stainless steel. "You okay, buddy?" Tony cooed; it chirped cheerily at him.
"I merely wished to keep him out of harm's way while I prepared a meal," Thor muttered glumly. "It does not appear to enjoy my company."
"Oh, Thor, don't be that way -- here." Tony nudged Cutie-Pie towards Thor. It whirred again, softly, little arms reaching out to poke and prod him. "Stop getting in his way and he'll stop squirting you," Tony insisted, stepping out of the way as a squirt of oil sailed by them. "You better clean that up," he warned, pointing a finger at Buddy. "I'm not slipping and breaking my neck."
Buddy gave him the robot equivalent of blowing a raspberry, little droplets of water spraying from its spout.
"You programmed a robot to follow me around singing 'The Star Spangled Man With a Plan'," Steve accused, crossing his arms over his chest.
"What, no, 'course not, cocoa puff, why would you say that?" Tony asked innocently, all wide eyes and fluttering lashes.
Steve put on his best unamused face and reached back, opening the door to one of the numerous closets in Stark Tower. The little robot in there immediately perked up, a tinny tune whistling from its speakers.
"It's a catchy song," Tony defended, shrugging his left shoulder. "Really, you should be thanking me, because I was going to build a life-sized robot with tits and the outfit and everything, but then your girlfriend would get jealous because my inventions are amazingly sexy, I know, and I couldn't bear the thought of--"
"--Tony," Steve laughed, holding his hand up to stop him. "I don't have a girlfriend. Christine and I broke up."
"Wait, what?" Tony asked, raising an eyebrow. "When did that happen?"
"I don't know, uh," Steve rubbed the back of his neck, "I guess almost three weeks ago?"
"Oh." Tony grimaced. "Sorry."
"No, it's okay," Steve insisted. "It wasn't exactly working out, so it was for the best."
Tony waffled with what to do for a minute before stretching his arm out and offering Steve the bag of treats in his hand. "You wanna cookie?"
Steve choked on a laugh, reaching in and taking a few. "Thanks, Tony."
"Welcome, Cap'n Crunch!" Tony winked, retreating to the elevator.
"Yes, Tony," Bruce said immediately, sliding and tapping random bits on his tablet.
Tony huffed. "Lame. Think I should do it anyway?" Bruce didn't even dignify him with a response that time. "Yeah, well," he muttered sullenly, suddenly throwing the metal arm on the table. "It's not like I can test and see if this works anyway."
"Tony--" Bruce started.
"No, it's fine, I'm fine," Tony rubbed his cheek bones lightly, "I'm just tired. I'm going to go take a nap."
He called Pepper's cell when he got to the elevator. "Pep, I don't know what to do," he complained, watching that little furrow appear between her eyebrows.
"Stop making robots," she said instantly; Tony wondered who'd ratted him out. "Also, Tony, you know you're supposed to call the company line when I'm at work."
"Yeah, but then your secretary stops me," Tony smoothly replied. "Plus, when I call you on my fancy Stark Phone, I get the pleasure of seeing your lovely smile."
"I'm not smiling, Tony," she said dryly, though a twitch of her lips gave her away. She sighed. "So what's wrong?"
"Everything," he moaned bitterly, pouting at her as he walked past the living area.
"You'll need to be a bit more specific," she told him, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like 'drama queen' under her breath.
Tony ducked into his room, locking it behind him. He leaned against the door for a moment. "Hey, Pep?" he whispered.
"Tony, you're starting to scare me," Pepper barked into the phone. "Spit it out or I'm taking the next flight out and coming over to beat you."
"How long did it take you to get over me?" he asked quietly, bracing an arm across his stomach. He very specifically turned the image of Pepper's frown to face the other direction.
Pepper exhaled softly. "I never did," she admitted and Tony flipped the phone back; there was a soft, sad smile on her face. "Just because it didn't work out between us, doesn't mean I don't care about you, that I don't love you. But you're not talking about me, are you?"
Tony stared down at the tiny screen, a small lump rising up in his throat. "I'm sorry, Pepper," he rasped, willing her to believe him, to understand. "You're probably the best thing to ever happen to me, you know."
Pepper's smile widened briefly, her eyes half-lidded and suddenly shining. "I know. You wouldn't make it a day without me."
"An hour," Tony corrected, managing a small grin. "I think my social security number's five, remember?"
"I know you tried to buy the number five, Tony. I saw the forms," Pepper laughed, touching a finger to her eyelashes. "You're going to have to learn it eventually."
"Nah." Tony waved his hand. "That's what I have you for, remember?"
Pepper snorted, rolling her eyes. She sobered then, and said, "Tony, sometimes people just don't... click together. Sometimes you just have to accept that and move on with your life."
"What if I can't?" Tony met Pepper's gaze straight, eyebrows bunched together.
Pepper was silent for a few minutes. "I don't know," she finally answered.
Just remember that I love you all 8'D
"C'mon, Fury," Tony insisted, grinning over his sunglasses at the man. "Just one picture. It doesn't even need to be my whole ass -- How about a cheek? He'll know it's mine from the underoos."
"Stark." Fury glared his one evil eye down at Tony. "I have been remarkably patient with you. I let you barge in here without an appointment because you said you had important things to talk about. Please tell me I did not cancel a meeting with my junior recruits so you could email nasty pictures to your goddamn boyfriend."
"Hey," Tony gasped, affronted. "You should be grateful; I was going to hack your systems and do it myself. I just so happen to value Natasha and Clint's cover more than I want to sext him."
The bulging vein on Fury's forehead looked ready to burst. "Get out of my damn office." Tony pulled a petulant face, but got up to leave. When he was at the door, Fury snarled, "Stark."
Tony turned back to face Fury, raising one eyebrow.
"Next time they check in, I'll tell him his motherfucking idiot said hello."
Tony grinned, all teeth. "You're too sweet to me, Fury."
Bruce laughed and threw a pinch of flour over his shoulder at him. "I'm baking, Tony. You should have asked me an hour ago."
Tony narrowed his eyes. "I'm leaving you for Thor," he quipped, popping up and turning on his heel.
"However will I go on?" Bruce called dryly as Tony left the kitchen.
Tony found Thor and Steve in the gym sparring. "Thor!" he crowed, fingers curling in a quasi-fist around his cast as he threw his arm in the air.
Thor beamed at Tony's entrance, grabbing Steve around the waist and flipping him upside-down in mid-air; Steve threw his legs back and caught Thor in a triangle choke. Thor in turn managed a wheeze-slash-laugh, released his hold on Steve's middle to go for his legs, and Steve took the opportunity to drop his hands to the mat. Thor doubled over and Steve released the choke, flipping over into a crouch and barrelling into Thor's legs for a takedown.
"Thanks, Tony," Steve grinned, pinning Thor to the ground.
Tony matched Steve's smile with one of his own then looked down to Thor, eyes crinkling. "Sorry buddy," Tony almost-grimaced. "Remind me never to go dark-side with you both in Manhattan."
"I have seen that movie with Jane!" Thor bellowed, sitting abruptly up and sending Steve sprawling across the mat. He winced. "Apologies, my friend."
"No worries," Steve waved him off, brushing sweat-slicked hair from his forehead.
Tony swallowed. "Anyway, yeah, so, Thor, dude, wanna go wreak some havoc on the city? I'm going a little stir crazy in here and Bruce dumped me for shortbread."
"I do not understand any of these terms," Thor said with another laugh, climbing to his feet.
"He wants to hang out," Steve translated for him, gaze flickering to Tony for a moment. The corner of his mouth twitched upwards. "You know, like for fun."
"Yeah, totally, I'm the master of fun, the king of cool, the grand chief of good times," Tony replied with his little one-armed shrug. "You can totally come, too if you want, Cap. The more the merrier. You haven't really gone out at all this past month, either. What are we, monks? I'm gonna answer that for you: no."
"You humans amuse me," Thor mused, rolling his own shoulders and stretching his limbs. "The custom is that I should bathe before accompanying you all out?"
"Yes, please," Tony insisted. "That or they'll start calling you 'Thor: god of crazy BO'."
"Have anything in mind?" Steve asked, tossing a towel to Thor and wiping another one against the back of his neck.
"Out," Tony told him immediately. "Out."
"There's an exhibit on Italian Renaissance paintings going on at the Met," Steve suggested. "I've been meaning to go."
"Who doesn't like art?" Tony cracked.
Tony didn't like art.
It shouldn't have been a surprise, really; Pepper bought all the art in his various houses. The only ones he took particular interest in were the ones she'd deemed 'egregiously overpriced' and that was really only because he liked the look on Pepper's face when he got them.
Thor, however, was mystified by all the different styles of paintings, sculptures, and ancient artifacts strewn about the museum. Tony guessed he didn't go to many art galleries in Asgard. The demigod practically sprinted from display to display, ooh-ing and ah-ing and startling everyone he passed.
The fifth time Tony and Steve lost him, Tony gave up. "I should have just bought out the museum for the rest of the day," Tony grumbled. "Then we wouldn't have to worry about Thor accidentally stepping on some kid when he pranced out of our sight again."
"That's only happened like," Steve lips twisted momentarily, "twice so far."
Tony snorted, rolling his eyes to the ceiling. "Next thing you know he's going to be dropping his hammer on people -- that was not a euphemism, by the way."
Steve's eyes widened. "He didn't bring Mjolnir, did he?" he asked, somewhat horrified.
"I have no idea where Thor keeps that thing when he's not battling interdimensional freaks," Tony admitted; he shook his head, waving his cast at Steve. "Come on. We might as well go see your little exhibit before they kick us out for not keeping our thunder-god under control."
Laughing quietly, they made their way to the appropriate section. It was a weekday and the exhibit had been out for awhile, so it wasn't particularly busy there: just a few tourists who had yet to continue on. A few people recognized them as Iron Man and Captain America, but other than the occasional shy glance and (for the bolder fans) requested autograph, they remained relatively undisturbed.
"I was never really into the whole religious thing," Tony blurted, staring down at the painted parchment behind the glass.
"Somehow, that doesn't surprise me," Steve noted, amused. He looked away from the angels, giving Tony his full attention then. "Do you believe in any sort of higher power?"
"Never really saw the point." Tony shrugged again.
Steve's eyebrows knit together. "Well, what do you believe in?" he asked, slightly hesitant, as if he wasn't sure he should ask.
"People," Tony answered, hands in his pockets and glancing at an elderly couple on the other side of the room. Humans, flawed as they were, never got enough credit. Tony believed in men who would bleed out in a cave for a stranger, in men who scoured the deserts searching for him. Tony believed in women who did anything and everything for a man who forgot her birthday every year and he believed in giant green monsters who snatched him up out of the sky. His faith lied in archers and assassins who charged into battle and fought alongside super soldiers, demigods, and tricked-out geniuses.
Tony believed in people who could lose everyone they loved and still find the strength to get up in the morning.
"I believe in people," Tony repeated quietly, watching as the old man took the woman's hand and pointed out a painting of a field of sunflowers. He whispered something to her and her face lit up with such unbridled joy that Tony had to blink and look away. "People put all this trust in something they'll never see or hear or feel, when in reality we should be praising the ones who put up with our shit and keep coming back for more."
Tony blinked again, visibly pulling himself back. "I'm sorry, is that what you're supposed to talk about at an art gallery? Usually I'm drunk at these types of social settings so--"
Steve set a firm hand on Tony's shoulder; the words on his lips died and Steve said, "I believe in people, too."
They stood there for what could have easily been forever, brown to blue, dark to light, future to past, Tony struggling to breathe and Steve steady as a mountain.
Tony's phone chimed.
Steve flinched away then, putting a few steps between them, and Tony reached into his pocket to check his messages.
Mission ended early. In debrief. You at ST?, it read and a small smile curved over Tony's lips.
I will be, he tapped out and he said to Steve, "Clint's--"
"I'll go find Thor," Steve interrupted, pulling a little grin of his own onto his face. "You go back and see him, okay?"
"See ya, Cap," Tony saluted and turned on his heel; he lifted a hand up to his arc reactor, feeling the soft, constant hum of technology beneath his fingertips, grounding him, reminding him the feeling in his chest was mental instead of physical.
"Bye, Tony," Steve whispered.
"Watch it, Barton," Tony laughed. "You break my shit, you're paying for it."
Clint snorted, tossing his bag the floor and shuffling over. "Why should I pay for it when my landlord's a billionaire?"
"Genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist," Tony corrected as Clint slid onto the mattress, tucking himself in against Tony's side. Clint looked exhausted.
"Playboy, huh?" Clint asked, raising one eyebrow up at Tony.
"Oh yeah," Tony confirmed. "I slept with everyone who'd look twice while you were gone. It was a long list."
"I bet." Clint huffed a quiet laugh, fingers skimming along Tony's midsection. "How're your ribs and shoulder?"
"Shoulder's gettin' there; ribs are nearly healed," Tony responded, left arm slipping under and around Clint's shoulders. "My last x-ray was two days ago. I get the cast off in two weeks."
Clint hummed, eyelids drooping. "Good, good."
"You wanna sleep? You looked a little wrecked," Tony teased, nudging his cast against Clint's back.
"Mm-mm," Clint replied decisively, wiggling out of Tony's grasp and down the bed. "Wanna give you a present first."
"Shouldn't I be giving you welcome-back gifts?" Tony chuckled, gasping when Clint went for the fly of his jeans.
"Don't wanna hinder the healing process," Clint quipped, slipping Tony's pants and boxers down to his thighs. He ran his tongue across Tony's hipbone, teeth scraping light at the sensitive flesh there. Tony shivered and Clint wrapped his lips around Tony's dick, sucking lightly on it as it hardened.
"Ah, shit, Barton," Tony growled, grabbing hold of the sheets.
Clint settled a gentle palm on Tony's hip. "Don't hurt yourself, Stark," he ordered as he slipped off, tongue sliding along Tony's length, swirling around the head. He dived back down and hollowed out his cheeks, sucking. Clint raised himself up on his elbows, free hand moving to wrap around the base of Tony's dick. He bobbed his head and licked and swallowed; he took in as much as he could and hummed deep in the back of his throat. Clint slid a hand back and lightly teased at his asshole.
Tony gasped and grunted under Clint's ministrations, lasting a near-embarrassingly short amount of time. He came with a muffled shout, biting down hard on his lower lip.
"How about I give you a helping hand?" Tony purred a few minutes later, lashes fluttering lazily down at Clint.
Clint shook his head, scooting back up to Tony's level. He pressed a kiss to Tony's temple. "We should talk," he murmured.
"When has anything good ever follow those words?" Tony asked, head swivelling to face Clint, eyes widening.
"Serious conversations are always best had post-orgasm," Clint continued, staring fixedly at Tony's collarbone.
"Clint, what the fuck?" Tony barked, shifting into a sitting position. "What's going on?"
"I'm still in love with Natasha," Clint confessed, sifting up as well.
"Yeah, okay, I totally knew that when we started this." Tony's eyebrows scrunched together. "Did you two have sex on your spy mission or?"
"No," Clint attested, and his tone of voice was really starting to irritate Tony. "But I realized that I can't keep doing this, Tony. I don't want to."
"Can't keep doing what?" Tony ground out, teeth clenching, eyes narrowing.
"Settling," he answered, finally meeting Tony's gaze. "I'm settling for you and you're settling for Steve. I'm tired of it."
"You know, you're really starting to piss me off," Tony burst out. "This whole putting words in my mouth shit is not helping your case whatsoever."
"So you're not still pining for Steve?" Clint asked, voice finally rising. He crossed his arms over his chest, fingertips digging into his bicep. "Go ahead and tell me it's not true."
"Are you seriously accusing me of cheating on you?" he bit out through grinding teeth. "Because you can go ahead and ask him, asshole; you can ask anyone in this whole damn tower."
"That's not what I said, Tony."
"Oh for fuck's sake, don't you 'Tony' me," he hissed, desperately wishing for his sponge ball so he could throw it at Clint's big fat head.
"Then what am I supposed to call you? Stark?" Clint shook his head. "We've been dating for over two months and we still refer to each other on a last name basis most of the time."
"That's what we call each other!" Tony shouted, throwing his cast up in the air. "You don't want to date me because we don't call each other by our first names?"
"That's not the kind of relationship I want," Clint said, voice suddenly steady and heartbreakingly honest. "I want someone who will sleep next to me all night, who I can have a serious conversation with without one-half of the party shutting down, who will be serious with me--"
This was Pepper. This was Pepper all over again.
"--when I'm being an ass. I want Natasha." Clint blinked a few times, breaking eye contact. "But I'm probably never going to get Natasha and I have to deal with that; but it's not fair, to me or to you."
"Clint, you're tired," Tony croaked, clenching his hands into fists to keep them from shaking. "You just got back from a long-ass undercover mission and you probably haven't slept in days. Come on; let's sleep."
After a moment, Clint nodded jerkily, wrapping his arm around Tony's waist and guiding him back down on the mattress.
Clint was trembling, too.
"I haven't changed my mind," Clint piped from the corner, sitting in his favorite chair. He had his legs tucked up and chin propped on his kneecaps. "I've been thinking about this for awhile."
Tony shook his head, tossing the blankets off and walking over. He took the chair beside Clint, reaching for the man's hands.
Clint took them, squeezing them tight. "Listen, it's going to be alright," Clint whispered. "We were good friends before; we'll be friends again. I'll just -- take a week or two, stay back at SHIELD for a little while, get my head on straight--"
"Stop it," Tony hissed.
"But you have to take a minimum of two weeks to get over me," Clint laughed shakily; his eyes were so very wide and wet. "Then you and Steve can get together and be disgustingly perfect and."
"Clint." Tony shook his head again. "Stop it."
"You'll see," Clint whispered, closing his eyes and pressing a soft kiss to Tony's lips. "Everything will work out for the best."
"Please don't go," Tony murmured, throat tight. He'd fucked up so many great things in his life; he was sick to death of it.
"Do you love me?" Clint asked quietly, eyes bright in the dark room. "Can you look me in the eyes and honestly say that you could spend the rest of your life with me?"
Tony opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out.
Clint's smile was wobbly. He kissed Tony one more time, said, "Goodbye, Tony," and left, snatching up his duffel bag as he departed.
Tony drank whatever he found first and then kept drinking until he was drunk and stupid enough to call Pepper, babbling nonsense into the phone. He didn't hear a word she said, but she sounded upset so he hung up, hauling himself up from the floor of his bedroom and suddenly remembering exactly why one didn't mix painkillers and alcohol.
He stumbled into the bathroom, bile rising in his throat and Tony missed the toilet the first time he puked, vomit sliding sickeningly across the tiles. He clung to the bowl like his life depended on it (it probably did) and dropped his face to the side, arc reactor clinking against the porcelain. He gasped for air; his ribs were on fire and his eyes were blurred from the tears that were definitely caused by him vomiting profusely into the toilet.
A cool, damp washcloth touched the back of his neck and Tony flinched, cast knocking back to smack whoever was behind him.
And of course it was Steve. Of course it was.
"Pepper called." (Of course she did) "Well technically she called Bruce and then I figured out because Bruce actually looked like he was going to hulk out so he went and took a sedative before he smashed in the windows or, even worse, Clint's face and--"
"Shut up," Tony wheezed, heaving into the toilet again.
"Tony, you're gonna break your ribs again," Steve whispered, pressing a gentle hand between Tony's shoulder blades.
"Then let them break," Tony gasped, stomach threatening to tear itself in two. "I don't understand how I fuck up everything, what am I doing wrong, I can't--" Tony spat another mouthful of acid and alcohol out. "I can't," he repeated miserably, hiccuping.
"Is that everything?" Steve asked, rubbing slow circles on Tony's back.
"I have no idea," Tony admitted, coughing up phlegm and foul-tasting spit.
Steve checked his pulse. "I'm gonna go grab Bruce so he can make sure you don't have alcohol poisoning."
"No." Tony grabbed his sleeve, shaking his head and moaning when the world spun, spots blackening the edge of his vision. "Please don't go."
"Okay," Steve answered quietly, gently sliding his hands under Tony's arms and lifting him up. He collapsed against Steve, fingers weakly clinging to his shirt. Steve led Tony over to the sink, where he lifted a small cup to his lips. "Swish and spit," Steve requested as Tony sipped at the water.
Tony spat the water into the sink and Steve brushed the washcloth across his nose and mouth. Throwing Tony's left arm around his shoulder, Steve half-led, half-dragged Tony out and over to his bed and laid him down, turning Tony onto his side.
Steve draped another cool, clean cloth across Tony's forehead, who wiped the back of his hand against his nose, sniffling lightly. Tony fell asleep to the hazy feeling of fingers fondly combing through his hair.
"How are you feeling?"
Tony blinked slowly, squinting his eyes despite the fact that there weren't any lights on in the room.
"Like something crawled up into my skull and died," Tony whispered to Bruce, smacking his lips and grimacing. "And my mouth. And my chest."
Bruce nodded softly and handed him a bottle of water. "We're gonna have to take you for another x-ray to make sure your ribs didn't crack again."
"Remind me why we don't have one of those in the tower again?" Tony grumbled, swallowing a mouthful and cautiously sitting up.
"We did," Bruce laughed mildly, "but we took it apart last year to see if we could assemble a miniaturized particle accelerator."
"That was a fun project," Tony noted, grinding the knuckles of his hands into his eyes. "God, I feel like ass."
"Yeah, well you should," Bruce said, lips twisted into what Tony had affectionately dubbed his 'Momma Bruce pout'. "You could have passed out in a puddle of your own vomit and died, you know."
"How did I even get to bed, anyway?" Tony groaned. He shifted around, planting his feet on the floor and swaying lightly.
"That would be thanks to Steve." Tony looked up at Bruce, eyebrows furrowed, and Bruce elaborated, "He stayed in here all night to make sure you didn't asphyxiate or anything."
"Oh," Tony croaked weakly. He shook his head. "Where is he now?"
"Ahh." Bruce chuckled again, eyes darting off to the side. "He um, might have gone to SHIELD to tear Clint a new one."
Tony's jaw dropped. "What? Why?" Tony squawked.
"It was him or me," Bruce told him, still glaring at nothing. "I figured it'd be better to send someone who couldn’t accidentally turn green and snap him in two."
"Harsh, jelly bean," Tony said, voice somewhat unsteady. "But it's really not his fault, so."
"And so I just imagined you rushing back to the tower yesterday so you could welcome him back?" Bruce snapped, drumming his fingers against his knee.
Tony lurched forward, wrapping his arms around Bruce's middle. "He asked if I loved him. If I'd said yes, he would've stayed," Tony murmured, cheek resting in the crook of Bruce's neck. "I couldn't make the words come out -- I couldn't say a fucking thing."
Bruce shushed him, holding Tony in a loose embrace. "Not being in love doesn't erase the hurt, Tony," Bruce whispered sagely.
"When did my life become a soap opera?" Tony complained, laughing into Bruce's shoulder. "I literally want to puke on the floor and die."
"That would be your hangover talking," Bruce chided, nudging Tony in the side. "Come on, I made soup."
"Fucking Christ, Natasha," Tony groused, pressing a hand over his arc reactor. "Can you at least try to let the rest of us know when you enter a room?"
She frowned. "You and Clint--"
"No." Tony pointed a finger at her. He was so not ready for this shit. "No. He ended it, alright? So you don't actually get to maim me."
Natasha crossed her arms over her chest, raising one eyebrow down at Tony. She pursed her lips. "I'm not exactly sure who looks worse right now: you or Clint."
"You better hope it's me," Tony grumbled, fingertips massaging against his temples. "I am about to rip my own head off."
"You really hurt him, you know," Natasha said then, and her voice was soft, quiet, and just a little bit concerned; Tony wasn't exactly sure who it was for.
"Yeah, and if you hadn't dumped him after your mission way back when, this never would've happened," Tony retorted, lip curling at his soup. "Now, if you don't mind, I have shit to do and it doesn't include listening to you harp at me about--"
"Mission?" Natasha asked and when Tony looked up again, there was a small wrinkle between her brows, as if she were confused.
"Yeah, I don't know, your weird sex mission where you guys pretended to be together. I'm not over Steve and Clint's not over you: whoopee." Tony rolled his eyes and twirled his pointer finger in a circle. "It's a real party up in here."
Natasha blinked. "I have to go," she said abruptly, turned on her heel, and left.
"Yeah, that's cool, just leave me in the fucking dark about everything!" Tony called out to her retreating back.
Bruce popped in then, sidling around her. "Sorry, Pepper called to see how you were doing," he explained, pocketing his phone. "Happy drove to the airport to pick her up -- you want to wait until she gets here to see the doctor or--?"
"Yeah, we might as well," Tony sighed. "At least I can feign injury so she can't smack me too hard."
Bruce snorted and shook his head at Tony. "Eat your soup," he instructed, reaching out to fondly ruffle the man's hair.
Pepper didn't hit him when she arrived, but Tony was worried she was actually going to strangle him until she pulled him into a sharp hug, hissing, "Stop making think you're going to die, Tony. My heart can't take it."
"Sorry, Pep," he whispered back, holding on tight.
Bruce choked on his tea and nearly dropped the thermos he was holding. "What?"
"Yeah, Clint and I break up, Natasha comes to kill me, Steve goes to beat up Clint -- that doesn't scream gangster movie to you?" Tony joked, hands in his pockets.
Pepper sighed and let her head hang. "What did I ever do to deserve this as my life?" she asked her shoes quietly.
"I don't know, but it must have been pretty awesome, right?"
Tony stuck his lower lip out. "I don't think that's very fair," he grumbled to the room.
Steve (the bastard) actually laughed at him. Thor gave a sheepish shrug.
"I agree with him," Pepper said, smiling over at Steve. She inclined her head. "Captain, how are you today?"
"Just Steve," he supplied, reaching out to shake her hand. "I'm doing alright, thank you."
"Steve," Pepper relented, hand clasped firmly around his. "Thank you."
"Oh." Steve smiled lightly. "You're welcome."
"Am I officially being left out of every loop now?" Tony interjected. "Because that is not okay."
"Yes," Bruce and Pepper chorused; Bruce trudged off in the direction of his room, Pepper and Steve stepped off to the side to chat, and Thor clapped a gentle hand to Tony's shoulder.
"I am truly sorry that this has happened to you," Thor said, somber, and Tony swallowed a lump in his throat.
"You know," Tony joked weakly. "Shit happens."
"It shall not always be this hard," Thor continued, and oh god no, he was going to give Tony some sort of terrible Asgardian love advice. Tony blanched. "When my father banished me to Earth, I thought that it would be the end of me, but in fact it was a beginning."
"Feels like a great beginning," Tony quipped.
Thor frowned. "Perhaps you misunderstand me--"
"No, no, I get it: fate, one door closes, another opens, blah, blah," Tony waved his hand, "but it's not always wrapped in neat little packages, Thor. Sometimes things just falls to shit."
"Aye, but I do not believe it to be so." Thor laughed at Tony's stare of supreme disbelief. "My weapon of choice may be the mighty Mjolnir, Tony, but I believe you all forget where my lineage lies. I believe good things are to come to you."
"Well, when that happens, I'll write you a check, big guy," Tony snorted, reaching up to pat Thor's massive bicep.
"Give me that," Tony snipped, going after the controls. "You don't even know how to use it half the time."
"I do so," Steve insisted, landing on the Discovery Channel. He grinned triumphantly.
"Is this seriously what people do when they don't drink?" Tony asked and Steve sent a mild glare his way. "Kidding, totally kidding."
"Tony." Steve shifted so that his shoulder was pressed into the cushions. He repeated, "You don't mess everything up."
Tony snorted, setting his mug down so he could fight for the remote again. "I never said that."
Steve held the remote high above his head and, well, that just wasn't fair. "You didn't do anything wrong," Steve whispered, dropping the remote on the couch behind him. "Okay?"
"I've ruined the integrity of the team, haven't I?" Tony suddenly asked, misery peeking out of the cracks in his mask.
Steve shook his head. "Tony, no." He cupped a hand to Tony's face, brushing a thumb against his cheekbone. "The team will get through this. You will get through this. Just give it time."
Tony's eyes closed as he leaned into the touch. "If you say so," he mumbled. He flopped back against the cushions then, turning his attention back to whatever weird documentary Steve had picked out.
Steve draped his arms against the back of the couch and left them there.
Two weeks after they broke up, Clint strode out of the elevator like nothing was wrong, Natasha in tow. He patted Tony on the back. "Stark," he started, "I see you finally made me some goodies."
"Don't get used to it, Barton," Tony shot back, nose wrinkling. "It was totally a bribe, by the way."
Clint barked out a laugh. "I figured. How are you and Steve?"
Tony made a face.
Clint smirked. "Give it time, idiot."
"I'm the idiot that just made you a new bow!" Tony called, (cast free) hands on his hips.
"And it's wonderful!" Clint sang, dashing around the corner.
"I never got a party," Clint huffed, sipping at his soda.
"You never left Earth," Tony retorted and stuffed one of Bruce's delicious cupcakes in his mouth. "You go to another realm, we'll give you a shindig."
Clint chuckled and went over to talk to Natasha, giving Steve the perfect opportunity to edge in next to him.
"You and Clint doing okay?" he asked, eyes on the ceiling and rocking on the balls of his feet. He caught Tony's eye and the corner of his lip quirked.
"Smooth, Rogers, very smooth," Tony drawled, wiping a bit of frosting from his mustache. He licked it off his thumb and hummed. "It's awkward, though I suspect it's only on my end. I bet he and Natasha did the dirty while they were cooped up at SHIELD together."
"Wait, what?" Steve asked, blinking down at Tony.
"Clint and Natasha doing their creepy assassin horizontal tango?" Tony asked, raising his eyebrows. "Did you hear a word I just said?"
"Yeah, sorry," Steve laughed suddenly, patting Tony's shoulder. "You really think Clint would do that so soon?"
"I did," Tony admitted with a nod; he wrinkled his nose. "Not the best rebound sex I've ever had, but." Tony shrugged, laughing. "Better than me sitting around all day feeling sorry for myself."
"Are you?" Tony looked up, eyebrows raised questioningly, and Steve elaborated, "Sitting around all day feeling sorry for yourself?"
Tony waved him off. "I'm fine, Cap. A week or two more of doing the awkward break-up dance and things'll be back to normal.”
"You sure?" Steve brought out his sweet puppy eyes and Tony made a face.
"Yes, Steve, I'm sure, I'm positive, completely, one hundred percent." He waved his hand back and forth in the space between him. "Look, you and me, we're fine, right? No weirdness or anything."
Steve smiled, the corners of his eyes crinkling. He took a step closer, leaning in and saying in a hushed voice, "We didn't date, though, Tony."
"Oh." Tony wanted to smack himself. "Right, duh. Sorry about that, Cappers."
"No, Tony, it's fine," Steve insisted and he smiled again, an expression Tony was seeing more and more of lately. "Listen, I'm going to go give Thor one final goodbye before he leaves. You want to go out for dim sum later?"
Tony grinned, suddenly twitchy. "Always down for dim sum, Cap," he said, already heading over to see Bruce.
"My tower: my tub," Tony hissed, fully clothed and curled into a ball in the bottom of Steve's bathtub. He held his finger up to his lips. "Shhh."
"What do you mean sh--?" Steve yelped as Tony yanked him in, tugging the shower curtain quietly back into place. He clapped a hand over Steve's mouth.
Not even a minute later, something whizzed into the bathroom, the sound low and metallic. Steve raised his eyebrows over at Tony, who glared threateningly, pressing a finger to his mouth again.
When the thing left, Tony pulled his hand back. Steve hissed, "What the hell, Tony?" and Tony rolled his eyes, whispering back, "Hide and seek. Em and Nem are it."
"Why are you hiding in my bathtub?" Steve sibilated, still crouched on the floor of his tub.
"Who'd think to look for me here?" Tony quipped and the curtain shuffled, Em's little bristled arms shoving at the fabric.
"Uh, your robot apparently," Steve shot back, smirking and Tony shouted, "Damn it, Steve -- now I have to find these tiny, little shit-heads."
Em made a soft, sad sound and Tony hopped out of the tub, murmuring, "No, no, I didn't mean that Em, I'm sorry."
Steve bit back a laugh. "How about if you let me shower, I'll help you be it?"
The little robot brightened, waving its brushes in the air.
Tony pouted, "Hey; do you like him better than me or something?"
Em chirruped and rolled out and, if Tony didn't know any better, would say it had a little skip in its step.
This time, Steve did laugh. "Give me like, ten minutes, Tony. I'll be right back."
Tony stepped out of the bathroom and waited the appropriate amount of time. When Steve came out, one towel around his waist and another tousling furiously at his hair, Tony threw his eyes to the ceiling and his hands in his pockets.
Steve faltered as if he'd forgotten Tony was there and blushed, darting over to the dresser. "Whoops, sorry, Tony," he said, jerking at the top drawer and grabbing a set of boxers. He retreated into the closet.
"Nothing I haven't seen before, Cap," Tony called, a smirk growing on his face. Steve made an indignant, sputtering noise. "Anyway, rules are simple: hiding spots only on this floor and the balcony's off limits. Also the air vents. You'd think it'd be easy, but no: those fucking robots can literally hide anywhere. It's terrible and I never wanted to be it again and you ruined that for me."
"Uh, I believe you ruined that for yourself," Steve retorted, exiting the closet in t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts.
Tony wolf-whistled. "Look at you, dressing all modern." Steve pressed his lips together and blew a puff of air out, making a face at Tony. "Anyway, come on, we've got robots to find. Six of 'em -- six. We'll be lucky if it doesn't take us all day."
Steve wiggled his toes in the carpet, a determined look sliding onto his face. "Oh, we'll find them in an hour," he promised, eyes flashing.
"Shut up," he snipped, popping to his feet and spinning around to check behind the television. "I don't understand, Tony, how many possible hiding spots can there be on this floor?"
"Uh, a-fucking-lot," Tony answered, laughing as he ducked around the corner to sift through the junk in the closet there. "Ah-ha!" he crowed, snatching Buddy from under a raincoat.
Buddy squirted him in the face.
"You dick!" Tony cursed, nearly dropping the robot.
"Well, that's two down," Steve said, grinning as he appeared behind Tony, Nugget tucked in his arms. "Where haven't we tried yet?"
"Uh." Tony mentally ticked off the rooms, fingers twitching in the air. He grimaced suddenly. "The library and Clint and Natasha's rooms."
Steve set Nugget down then. "We can just knock on their doors and ask if they've seen them, then check the library?" he asked, hesitant.
"Sounds good," Tony confirmed, dropping Buddy next to Nugget; the little robot bounced on some sort of springing-mechanism before rolling along with Nugget down the hall.
No one answered when they knocked on Natasha's door (Steve and Tony had enough self-preservation not to go in without her permission), but when they got to Clint's room, Natasha beat them to it, stepping out and thrusting Toot into Tony's hands.
"Your robot is keeping Clint up," Natasha stated and Tony felt his face shut down, staring at the closed door behind her. Her glare softened a few degrees, but Tony still sidestepped the arm she reached out towards him. Finally, she said quietly, "Women can be stupid, too, sometimes."
"I figured," Tony answered, voice a slight rasp. "How are you guys doing?"
"We still have a lot of talking to do," Natasha admitted. "I have a lot of red in my ledger." Tony understood that notion all too well. Her gaze flickered to Steve momentarily before settling back on Tony. "And you?"
"The awkward has just risen to a level I am uncomfortable with," Tony only half-joked, turning on his heel.
Tony might have imagined it, but he thought she'd whispered, "You're not seeing," before slipping back into Clint's room.
Steve grimaced. "They really are together now."
Tony snorted, rolling his eyes. "C'mon, Mr. Forties, a month is plenty of time to move on from a two-month relationship," he said, placing Toot on the floor and heading towards the direction of the library.
"Really?" Steve asked, eyes searching.
"Really," Tony confirmed, flashing Steve a smile that actually met his eyes.
Cutie-Pie's hiding place was given away due to the fact that it wasn't actually a vase and they found Em and Nem hidden behind a fort of books. Neither Tony nor Steve could figure out just quite how they'd built it.
"This, this really took us three hours to figure out?" Steve blurted, incredulous as he stared down at the three dancing robots.
"The smarter we think we are, the dumber we actually are," Tony divulged, crouching down to give each one of his robots a 'job well-done' pat.
Steve laughed and sat beside Tony, hands stretching out to pet the other man's creations, as well. Their fingers brushed a few times, but neither of them mentioned it.
"This is not good for my blood pressure," Bruce screeched into the commlink.
Tony barked out a laugh, stretching his arms and legs out behind him; the wind whipped at his face and the cool, familiar feeling of the suit's scanners swept over him before the metal locked over his wrists, the rest of his armor clicking securely into place. Tony's helmet slid over his head and snapped shut, lights flickered on, and endless scrolls of data slid before his eyes. Tony whooped, kicking back and pointing his limbs towards the ground. His repulsors switched on and Tony soared upwards; he landed back on the roof of Stark Tower moments later, the armored boots thunking to the reinforced concrete.
"Well?" Tony asked, faceplate slipping up and back. "How was that for a test-run?"
Bruce looked a little green around the gills -- literally. "You didn't say you'd be jumping off the tower, Tony," he muttered, pressing a hand to his forehead.
Tony grinned, all teeth. "Yeah, but it was really cool."
Steve was in the middle of one of his full-body sighs. "How's your shoulder feel?" he prompted when he'd finished acting like a drama cap.
Tony lifted his right arm up to shoulder height, then slowly rotated it around. "So far, so good," Tony confirmed, fingers curling, knees bending, checking out every nook and cranny of his new suit. He switched on his mic. "Clint, Natasha, how'd the suit look in the air?"
"It looked fine from street level," Natasha certified, voice clear even through the New York traffic.
"Looked good from the nest," Clint piped up and Tony frowned suspiciously.
"Barton, if I find any twigs on any of my balconies, I'm making you clean it," Tony told him and flew up to the platform, stepping through the rotating discs and watching his armor unhitch and disappear into the floor.
Bruce and Steve met him inside, but when Steve shot Bruce a look and a little grin, Bruce shook his head, laughed, and waved goodnight to Tony.
"Okay, what was that all about?" Tony asked, arching an eyebrow over at Steve.
"Nothing, just." Steve smiled again and it looked slightly pained. "I was wondering if you wanted to go on another flight test?"
"What, really? At," Tony glanced at the clock and whistled, "Jesus, five in the morning? Did you guys stay up with me all night or set an alarm or something?"
"I always get up around this time," Steve confessed, hands shoved into his pockets. "But hey, you can totally go to sleep now, it's fine--"
"What, and lose another chance to play in my new suit? No way." Tony was already making his way back to the balcony. "What kind of test are you thinking about?" he called, pausing at the door.
"Actually, I have a place in mind. Let me just grab my coat?" Steve turned around and started digging in the closet.
"You mean you want to ride on back?" Tony raised his eyebrow again and he turned around, one hand braced on his hip. "It's not really the best form of transportation out of uniform."
Steve started. "Oh, shoot, well that's kind of a dumb idea anyway, never mind Tony--"
"No, it's fine, we can use the comm," Tony said slowly. "You okay, Cap? Too much caffeine or something?"
"I'm fine," Steve insisted, huffing a bit as he buttoned up his coat. He adjusted his earpiece and suggested, "So, flight test?"
Tony snorted and stepped out of the sliding door, already tapping the button on his wristband. The suit cinched around him seamlessly and Tony began the process of checking all the joints again.
Steve jogged up behind him, slipping on a pair of motorcycle gloves. "I've seen Clint ride this thing before..." Tony kept the joke back for both their sakes. "Let me just." Steve slid his fingers into a groove in the armor and held on tight. "Is this good?"
"Sure is," Tony quipped, switching on his mic. His faceplate slid shut. "Awaiting your orders, Captain."
Steve chuckled behind him. "Up is good for now."
Tony shot up into the air and flew east at Steve's instruction. On his back, Tony could feel Steve clinging for dear life, letting out an excited whoop every now and then.
"This is amazing!" Steve shouted in the commlink.
"Why do you think I jumped off the roof?" Tony smirked and Steve just laughed again, fingertips clenching around the hidden handlebars.
Eventually, Steve told him to descend. Tony's boots sunk down into the sand and he grimaced; this was going to get terrible fast. He turned around then, faceplate slinking back, and asked, "Uh, what're we doing at Coney Island?"
Steve shrugged, the motion of it nearly lost in his coat. He started to take it off, noting, "I always thought it looked like a pretty swell place when I was a kid. Have you ever been?"
"A few times, yeah," Tony said, but Steve had already started strolling along the beach. "Jesus--hey, Cap, wait up, this suit was not made for dune walking!"
Steve laughed, whirling around and walking backwards. "Take the suit off, then!"
"I'll get sand in it," Tony moaned, nevertheless fiddling with the catches in the suit. "Where the hell are we going?"
"Stop complaining, Tony!" Steve called and rolled his eyes. He turned back around, throwing his coat over his shoulder. "It's not far, I promise."
Tony sighed, gauntlets falling to the dirt, followed shortly by the rest of the armor. "Reassemble," he ordered the pieces, tapping a new button on his bracelet. The armor whirred, small sparks of static shooting out and causing the armor to slink back together. The Iron Man suit stood before Tony on the beach and he murmured, "Lock-down; I'll call you if I need you." Its eyes flashed momentarily, a blue sheen washing over the suit before it sunk a few more inches down into the sand.
Tony trotted after Steve, who was a few yards away, hopping nervously from foot to foot. "Trying to get me alone, Steve?" Tony teased, grinning cheekily. "Effective, but you really didn't have to try so hard." Steve's eyes darted to the side and that's when Tony saw the blue and white checkered blanket lying on the ground. The grin slid off Tony's face and he said, "What?"
"Pepper said not to do anything too flashy and Bruce told me to do something sweet," Steve blurted, hands fisting in his jacket. "And, I don't know, what do you get the man who has everything?" He chuckled nervously, staring down at the blanket. "You're always in your workshop in the middle of the night, so by the time the sun comes up, you're either passed out on the floor or in your bed, so I just thought--"
"Steve," Tony whispered and Steve snapped his mouth shut. "What is this?"
Steve dropped his coat and bent over; when he stood back up, Tony saw he had a thermos in his hand. "Coffee?" he asked hesitantly. Tony slowly took it and Steve continued quietly, "I wanted to watch the sunrise with you."
"Oh." Something fluttered in Tony's chest, right behind the arc reactor. "Okay."
Steve beamed, bright and wide, and sat down on the blanket, patting the spot beside him. Tony took a sip, plopping down. The coffee was just on the acceptable side of warm, but it had obviously been sitting there for awhile. Tony wondered when exactly Steve had come out here, how far in advance he'd planned this.
"So, uh," Tony eventually asked, staring out at the splash of pink spreading across the sky. He breathed in deep, the cool, salty breeze ruffling through his hair. "What's this all about?"
Steve bit down on the inside of his cheek. "I know we didn't get along at first," Tony snorted and Steve choked back a laugh, "but there's always been something about you that instinctively knew which buttons to push. How to make me angry. How to make me laugh."
"Ditto on the angry," Tony murmured, eyes crinkling at the corners.
Steve huffed, lightly shoving at Tony's shoulder. "I thought I knew what I wanted--" Two-point-five kids, a dog, and a white picket fence? "--but then you started dating Clint and, I don't know, I just turned into this giant crumb and I had to kind of wonder: why was I acting like this?" Steve shuffled around, tucking one leg up to prop his chin up and sighed. "Then you almost died and it all sort of clicked because the thought of losing you just." Steve looked like he didn't even know how to finish.
Tony let out a shallow breath. "What clicked?" he wondered, cautious.
"It's fine," Steve said then, reaching out and patting Tony on the shoulder. "It's all completely fine if you don't see me that way or you don't want to or--"
"Steve," Tony interrupted. Steve shut up. "What clicked?" he repeated, and his voice did not tremble because he was Tony fucking Stark and people's voices trembled when they talked to him, not the other way around.
Steve inhaled through his nose and held the breath for a beat before letting it slowly whoosh out through his mouth. "I love you," he said, honest, open, and so very, very Steve. "And this isn't because of the sex or Clint or anything else. I love," a bubble a laughter fell from his lips, "the way you could work on a project for days without stopping, but God forbid you wake up before a board meeting without Pepper having to drag your butt up. I love how you always know that Bruce is joking about turning into the Hulk and throwing people off of buildings and that you made Bruce okay with joking about stuff like that. Tony, you're crazy and irrational and hack into top secret government agencies just because you can--"
"No, please, do go on," Tony joked, fingers twitching in his lap.
"--But you built these robots to clean stuff for you and half the time you end up cleaning after them or playing hide and seek and." Steve blinked rapidly, staring out at the cold seawater. "You built Clint a bow so he'd know he was still welcome at the tower."
"That was a bribe," Tony rasped, clenching his hands together.
"No, it wasn't," Steve whispered and damn it if the man couldn't read him like a fucking book, it just wasn't fair. Steve dusted his hands off, rising to his knees and leaning over Tony. He cupped the other man's face, murmuring, "Tony?"
"Yeah?" Tony croaked, eyes widening, arc reactor possibly severely malfunctioning.
"I still believe in people, too," Steve answered, leaning in to press a sweet, soft kiss to Tony's lips.
The sun was well in the sky before either of them mustered up the strength to leave the beach.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
"I make a terrible boyfriend," Tony burst out, staring over at Steve with terror. "This didn't work before. What makes you think it's going to work now?"
"Tony?" Steve grabbed a cushion off the couch and, before Tony could answer, smacked him in the face with it. "Shut up."
"We should really just quit while we're ahead," Tony continued, undeterred.
Steve clapped a hand to Tony's mouth. "Shut up, Tony, I'm trying to watch this."
Tony blew a raspberry into Steve's hand; Steve made a face and snatched his arm away, wiping it on his pants' leg. He pulled Tony in close, cuddling the man against his chest. "I love you," Steve murmured into Tony's hair.
"I." Tony sulked, crossing his arms.
"Let's go on a date tonight?" Steve suggested.
"Yeah, okay," he grumbled, shifting into a more comfortable position to watch the movie in.
"Fuck," Tony cursed, tearing off his shirt. "Where the hell are we going?"
"Hey, I suggested bake cookies; I don't know what he has planned," Bruce said with a wave of his hand, plopping down in Tony's armchair. "Though is refreshing to see you running around looking less than smooth."
"How long have you known about all this?" Tony hissed, glaring over at Bruce's cheeky face.
"Long enough," Bruce grinned.
Tony made a noise low in his throat, shrugging into a dress shirt and beginning to button it up. "I'm such a fucking loser," Tony laughed, tucking the shirttail into his jeans. "Honey bear, please, just knock me over the head right now before I go out there and make a complete ass of myself and can never show my face in public again."
"How is any of that different from a normal Tuesday?" Bruce asked, steepling his fingers and placing them against his lips to stifle his laughter.
"I revoke your BFF card, oh my god. Bruce, I hate you," Tony insisted, shaking his head and going to the dresser for a pair of socks.
There was a knock at his door and Tony nearly fell over. He threw his shoe at Bruce and dashed across the room, the door swinging open to reveal a very nicely-dressed Steve Rogers. "Hi Bruce," Steve greeted with a little wave.
"Long time no see," Bruce retorted, still highly amused.
Tony snorted and stalked back over, snatching his shoe back from Bruce. "So, where we goin', Cap?" Tony wondered, trying for nonchalant.
"I, ah," Steve's cheeks colored and he looked away, "can't tell you just yet."
Tony's eyebrows scrunched together. "Why not?"
"It's silly; you'll laugh," Steve replied, giving one final goodbye to Bruce as they left the bedroom, Tony hopping into his shoes while they walked.
"I will not," Tony swore, fully aware that if it were hilarious, he probably would anyway.
"You will," Steve shot back, lips twisting in a frown.
"I won't, I swear to Mother Mary." Tony held up two fingers. "Scout's honor."
"Something tells me you were never a boy scout," Steve said dryly, arching a brow over at Tony. He didn't even try responding to the religious part.
"That hurts, Cap, that really does -- I was a scout for two whole weeks and you've just destroyed every good memory I ever had with them," Tony bantered, jamming his hands in his pocket.
Steve chuckled quietly, mimicking Tony's motion as they made their way down to street level. Steve said hello to Happy, Tony crawled into the car with his faux-pout still plastered on his face, and neither one of them would tell Tony where they were going.
The conversation dwindled slowly, Tony's fingers itching in his lap to mess with some gadget, until Steve finally said, "You can take your phone out, Tony. It's okay."
"Oh thank god," he blurted, already pulling it out of his back pocket. Steve snorted, amused, with his hands clasped tightly in his lap, his right knee very subtly bouncing. Tony casually set his palm down on the seat in between them and Steve instantly took it, nearly crushing Tony's hand in his own.
"Sorry," Steve murmured, loosening his grip.
Tony smirked. "It's all good, Cap."
The car pulled to a stop then and Steve asked, "So is opening doors for you a no?"
Tony scoffed, but something hot and tight shot through his gut. "How about we alternate?" he suggested, voice low and full of promises.
"Stop that," Steve ordered, though the flush crawling up his neck gave him away. Steve bid goodbye to Happy (polite as ever), and climbed out of the car, stretching his limbs.
Tony followed, screeching to a halt when he stepped to the sidewalk, peering suspiciously up at the sign above them.
Tony was very, very confused.
"Surprise," Steve cheered weakly, looking as though he'd suddenly realized this was a terrible idea. "You're usually invited to movie premieres, so I thought instead of dinner and a movie, why not dinner and a trip to--"
"The Children's Hospital?" Tony finished for him, eyes widening.
"What little kid wouldn't love to meet their favorite superhero?" Steve continued meekly, trying unsuccessfully to quash the grimace on his face.
Tony exhaled through his nose, quiet and soft, and said, "Alright. Let's go meet some kids."
This was, potentially, the worst idea they'd ever had. Apparently even though the whole world knew Tony Stark and the Iron Man were one, convincing a child of that fact was another ballpark altogether.
"Iron Man wears a big red suit," a small boy with stitches stretching from jaw to brow was currently insisting.
"So do I," Tony retorted, planting his hands on his hips. "But Iron Man doesn't wear the suit all the time. Sometimes Iron Man likes to wear normal clothes, too."
"You're not cool enough to be Iron Man," the boy decided, sucking on a popsicle.
Tony frowned, a small wrinkle appearing on his forehead. "I'm pretty sure I am," he insisted, bending down to eye-level with him. "I'm like, the king of cool. I could turn your television into a robot in like, twenty minutes."
He crossed his arms over his chest. "Prove it."
"You're on, squirt," Tony accepted, whirling around and unplugging it from the wall. "You happen to know where I can get a screwdriver?"
Matty (Tony'd eventually coaxed the name out of the little brat) sat on his hospital bed and shrugged. "Mama and Dad had a fight," he offered, still staring intently at Tony's nimble fingers as they worked.
Tony's eyes flickered to Matty for a second. "Yeah?" he prompted, cool, composed.
Matty nodded. "Yeah. They fight a lot."
"Do they?" Tony mused. Matty hummed in agreement. "Where are your parents now?"
"Mama's home. Dad's talkin' to the doctors," Matty confirmed, feet swinging back and forth.
"You normally get hurt when mom and dad fight?" Tony continued, scooting back to admire his handiwork.
It was nothing special, made for blinking lights and clapping hands, but Matty was mystified by it all. He hopped off the bed, scrambling onto the floor beside Tony. Eventually he whispered, "I'm not s'posed to talk about it."
"Yeah, but I'm Iron Man, remember?" Tony pointed out and Matty beamed up at him, all bright eyes and trusting hands. He grabbed Tony's shirt.
"Iron Man fights the bad guys," Matty said in that same hushed tone.
"That I do," Tony promised and then voices were floating down the hall, coming closer.
"He does this a lot," Steve was apologizing. "He just wanders off and disappears for hours. It's terrible; I'm so sorry."
"No, I have no idea what that's like at all," a female voice answered, clearly amused.
Steve and the woman (a nurse) popped their heads in. The nurse stared down at the floor, baffled, and Steve just moaned, "Tony, what did you do?"
A man followed in behind them and zoned straight for Matty. "Matt," he said slowly, all fake smiles and sharp, clean-pressed suits and everything Tony hated in life. "Ready to go home?"
"Yeah," Matty agreed, gathering the little toy Tony'd made in his arms.
The man frowned. "Leave that here, Matt," he ordered and Matty's lip wobbled.
Tony stood, brushing off his jeans. "I'm sorry, we haven't been formally introduced," he smiled charmingly, extending a hand out. "Tony Stark."
As people normally did when he name-dropped, the man's demeanor instantly changed: he straightened, widened his grin, and took Tony's hand firmly. "Matthew Cole. It's an honor, Mr. Stark."
"The honor's mine," Tony conceded, keeping his eyes firmly locked on Matthew. "That's a great kid you've got there."
"I know, I know, Matt's wonderful," Matthew agreed, preening.
Tony's smirk widened. Keeping a tight grip on the man's hand, Tony leaned in and muttered lowly in his ear, "This is what's going to happen. You're going to leave the hospital. You're going to head down to the police station and you're going to tell them you beat your wife and kid -- you seem like the wife-beating type, too; no offense." Tony patted him on the shoulder and released Matthew's hand. "You're gonna call your wife, have her pick Matty up, and never speak to them again. You know why?"
"Why?" he hissed, all fake bravado.
Tony pulled back, smile morphing into something marginally more pleasant. He looked over at the nurse. "Hey, how much money do I have to donate to get mine or Cap's name plastered somewhere on the building?"
"What?" she asked, jaw dropping.
"I want to donate some money to this hospital," Tony repeated, eyes flickering back to Matthew. "I don't know: Captain America Children's Hospital kind of has a nice ring to it, doesn't it, Steve?"
Steve blinked at Tony, suddenly scrutinizing the man beside him.
"Captain America loves kids," Tony insisted, clapping Matthew on the back; he flinched near violently. "He would do anything for a kid in need. Wouldn't you, Steve?"
"Yes," Steve acknowledged, standing at full attention and Tony swore he flexed his muscles.
"Iron Man likes kids, too," Matty piped up shyly, still clutching the little robot to his chest.
"Iron Man likes kids, too," Tony confirmed, taking a sick, twisted delight in the way Matthew nearly wet himself.
"Jesus Christ, Tony," Steve laughed, only slightly hysterical.
Tony, in the middle of fixing one of Nem's scrub brushes, peered over at Clint. He coughed, lips twitching to catch the smile that threatened to spill over his face. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said, fiddling with a bolt.
Clint strolled into the shop, pacing over and taking the stool opposite Tony's workbench. "I'm really happy for you," Clint admitted, fingers drumming on the table. "And... I'm sorry about the way everything went down. Before."
Tony sighed, setting down his wrench and staring down at Nem. "I know."
"Are we going to be okay?" he whispered.
Frowning, Tony gave the little one-armed shrug he'd grown accustomed to in his sling days. "Maybe."
"I can live with that," Clint accepted softly, clasping his hands together.
Em straightened from its spot beside Nem and purred, patting a brush on Clint's hand.
Tony laughed then. "You like everyone better than me, don't you, you brat?" he teased. Em spazzed, twirling in a few circles before rolling over to Tony and slapping its arms against Tony's elbows. "Rude." He looked back to Clint finally. "How are you and Natasha?"
Clint swelled, eyes brightening at the mention of her. "We're good; we're very, very good. Whatever you said to her: thank you."
Tony scoffed. "I'm pretty sure I was being a hungover ass at the time, so don't thank me just yet." Tony hesitated, shifting in his seat and patting Em on the head. "But, thanks to you, too, I guess."
"Just glad the dummy finally took my advice," Clint mused, wiggling his fingers at Em, who squeaked and did a little dance for him.
"What do you mean, 'advice'?" Tony asked, narrowing his eyes suspiciously at Clint. "What advice? When did you give him advice?"
Clint laughed at Tony and the sound was pure evil. "I want new time-detonated arrows, and an extra function on my bow to set them off early, if I want," Clint commanded, kissing his fingertips and pressing it to Em's side. Tony swore it blushed. "Time-detonated!" he repeated, practically skipping out of the workshop.
Tony called Steve. "What the hell does Clint mean, advice?" Tony demanded into the phone.
Steve raised his eyebrows. "What are you talking about?"
"Clint said he gave you advice," Tony faltered, grease stained fingertips flexing, "about us?"
"Oh? Oh." Steve looked bashful for a moment. "I think he means from before he left on his mission."
"We were still dating then!" Tony squawked. "What the fuck?"
"I didn't get it either," Steve confessed, cheeks tinted slightly pink. "He just, ah, told me to take care of you. To make sure you were happy when he was gone."
"Wait, 'while' or 'when'?" Tony interrogated, frown deepening. "Did he actually say 'when'?"
"He said when," Steve answered and then his eyes widened. "Oh."
"That motherfucker," Tony hissed, but the accusation wasn't as harsh as it should've been.
Tony's jaw dropped to the floor. "But we've had sex already! Why no?"
"We're doing this right this time," Steve laughed, eyes twinkling. He tapped a knuckle to Tony's bedroom door. "Good night, Tony."
"This is completely unfair and should fall under the category cruel and unusual punishment," Tony hissed.
"Maybe on the third date," Steve conceded, kissing Tony one more time on the mouth. "Good night."
"Night, Captain Chastity Belt," Tony pouted.
Steve, far more amused than he had any right to be, rolled his eyes and strolled down the hall to his own room.
Tony gulped his mouthful of coffee down and continued typing at his tablet. "Because you won't have sex with me."
Steve huffed, slightly flustered. "That's not what I meant."
"I know," Tony said quietly. He sighed, setting his mug down on the table and pushing his tablet off to the side. "Buyer's remorse?"
"No," Steve insisted vehemently. He reached across the table and grabbed Tony's hand, thumb brushing lightly against his knuckles. "I just kind of feel like there's something I'm missing -- I mean, I keep feeling like a fool around you, which is pretty much the stupidest thing because you're right, we have had sex before and." Steve pursed his lips and said a little petulantly, "Well, you and Clint looked like you had a lot easier of a time going from friends to dating."
Tony tried not to, he really did, but he laughed at Steve anyway. "Uh, you know Clint dumped me, right? I'm going to let you in on a little secret, Steve: Clint did most of the work; I had no idea what I was doing." Tony twisted his hand around, curling his fingers over Steve's. "It was easy, but it was because we let it be. We didn't... talk about things, or argue, or have conversations about why it was easy -- just once at the beginning and... at the end. And that was more my fault than his. Just." Tony snorted. "I'm really bad at this, you know? Yeah, it's gonna be harder for us, but we have a more complicated," Tony made a little face, "history than Clint and I did. Besides, doesn't working harder at it make this more worth it or some shit?"
The tension slowly slunk out of Steve's shoulders. He smiled warmly at Tony, keeping their hands clasped together as he resumed eating his oatmeal. He sucked lightly at the spoon and hummed.
"You are doing that on purpose," Tony accused, frowning at his own self-induced misfortune.
"Nope," Steve replied and his smile took on a dirty edge.
Tony snickered into the commlink, blasting away some sort of muck-monster baby. "I totally had secondhand sex with you, by the way," Tony quipped, waggling his eyebrows even though he knew Natasha couldn't see it.
"Hm, guess you've had secondhand sex with Bruce, too," Natasha shot back, jumping headfirst into another group of mud-things.
"What?" Tony squawked, faltering and slipping in a pile of goo.
"Natasha, oh my god, you left the comm open," Clint shrieked, arrows exploding wherever the hell he was.
"Oh, did I?" she said far too sweetly.
"Guys, can we please just focus on the fight?" Steve asked weakly.
"I do not get paid enough for this shit," Fury growled, gnashing his teeth together.
"I have needs, too, you know. And speaking of a long time ago, your 'girlfriend', Tony?"
"It is the third date," Tony hissed, blunt fingernails digging into Steve's backside. "Please tell me I am getting laid tonight, because I might actually cry if I don't, Steve; I'll cry."
Steve hummed, pulling back to admire his handiwork. His eyelids lowered slightly. "Why do you think I came in this time?"
"Point," Tony conceded, eyes drifting over to the bed. "As great as wall-sex is with you, though, it's on my bucket list that you fuck me into an actual mattress before I die and--"
"Bucket list?" Steve wondered aloud, already carrying Tony backwards, lips drifting across Tony's stubbled jaw.
"It's a movie," Tony choked out, huffing out as they both tumbled to the bed. "We'll watch it later. Promise. Not now." Tony grabbed at the hem of Steve's shirt, grinding his hips to Steve's.
"Mm," Steve agreed, eyes fluttering open. "This is different." Before Tony could answer or freak out or anything, Steve whispered, "I like it."
"Oh," Tony exhaled, shimmying south and mouthing at Steve's cock through his pants. Steve's hips jerked and Tony went for the fly of his pants, dragging them down and throwing them away somewhere. "Oh my god, you went commando," Tony sighed happily, eyes drifting to the ceiling. "It must be my birthday. It's my fucking birthday."
Steve threw his head back and laughed, then fisted his hands in the sheets when Tony swallowed the head of his dick, sucking lightly at the tip. Tony slowly slid down then up, eyes focused on the rise and fall of Steve's chest and the soft rosy hue beginning to cover his skin.
"Oh, god, Tony," Steve whispered, gasping.
Tony hummed, pulling off long enough to rasp, "That's me." He bobbed his head and sucked hard, fingertips gently reminding Steve not to thrust up and choke him.
Steve moaned, loudly, and reached down to tug at Tony's hair. "Fuck," he growled, thigh muscles clenching. "Tony, Jesus."
"Oh, you're coming more than once tonight, baby doll," Tony informed him, licking a hot trail over his balls and back up his dick. "I am going to take my sweet-ass time." Then Tony grabbed the base of Steve's cock and dived down again, twisting his wrist and sucking in tandem. Steve's grip on his hair tightened. Tony held back a snort and quickened his pace, tongue ever so softly brushing the underside of Steve's dick. He reached up and softly tweaked one of Steve's nipples.
"Ahh, Tony," Steve whined, starting to tremble.
"Hmmm?" Tony purred around Steve's cock and that was it for Steve. He came, hard, and Tony swallowed it, still lightly sucking at the man's dick until Steve yanked him up, kissing him fierce and swift.
"Tony, Tony, Tony," he whispered, a litany, a prayer. "I love you." He sucked Tony's lower lip between his teeth, panting harshly.
Tony started, owlish eyes staring deep into Steve's. His breath caught in his throat.
"You don't have to say it," Steve continued, moving to bite at his neck. He sucked lightly at the tender flesh. "It's okay. I said it first -- fuck, Tony, I have to say it." Steve kissed him again, open-mouthed and needy. "If I didn't say it and you--"
Tony smashed his lips to Steve, teeth clanking. He dug his fingertips into Steve's biceps and moaned loudly, his still fully-clothed hips jerking to Steve's nude ones. Tony kissed his ears, his eyelids, his nose. He bit down on the side of Steve's jaw and sucked.
Steve hissed lightly, pulling far enough away that he could rip at Tony's clothes: shirt, shoes, socks, pants, boxers. It would've been methodical if not for the careless way he tossed them to the side. Steve pulled his own shirt off and they both sighed sweetly at the feeling of skin on skin.
Steve sucked in a calming breath, cock already twitching. Tony laughed lightly, lips ghosting across Steve's collarbone. "Tony," Steve said then.
Tony paused, sitting up.
"Let me," he started, grabbing Tony's waist and flipping them over. Steve settled heavily over him and their erections brushed; Steve groaned. He pressed a palm to Tony's chest, right above his heart, right beside the arc reactor. "May I?" he asked, and Tony wasn't entirely sure what Steve was asking for.
"Yes," Tony answered anyway, because what other answer could he give?
Steve smiled, oh so brightly, and pressed his lips to Tony's chest. He kissed the arc reactor, deliberately, and began trailing more kissed down: his ribs, his hipbone, his thigh. Tony arched up into the touch.
Steve stood up and stretched over to Tony's bedside table, fumbling in the drawer for lube. Moments later, Tony was gasping as Steve pressed a slick finger into Tony's ass, gaze trained on him the entire time. "I'm sorry," Steve said quietly, a million different emotions flying through his eyes.
Tony nodded as Steve curled his finger up. "I'm sorry, too," he admitted, grabbing onto Steve and holding tight as Steve slipped another finger in, stretching him in such a familiar but also so very different way. His eyes fluttered shut for a moment when Steve added a third finger and Steve told him, "No."
"No?" Tony looked at Steve again.
"I want to see you," Steve whispered, leaning over and kissing him. "We've never done this face to face. I want to see everything, Tony."
"Oh, fuck," Tony whimpered, fingers trembling against Steve's shoulder blades. "Sex would be good now."
Steve nodded, grabbing for a condom. He slipped it on slowly and damned if it didn't make Tony feel better to see he was nervous, too.
"Look at us," Tony blurted, holding back a laugh. "We're acting like blushing virgins on prom night."
"I never had a prom," Steve confessed, dropping a kiss to Tony's temple as he pressed slowly in.
"I'll buy you a high school," Tony babbled, fighting the urge to close his eyes. "I'll throw you ten proms and we'll make Natasha wear some freaky-ass poofy dress and I'll--"
"Dance with me?" Steve finished for him, gradually picking up the pace.
"I'll dance with you," Tony confirmed and nodded jerkily. He made a noise low in his throat, hand slipping down to stroke his dick.
"Great," Steve beamed, grabbing hold of Tony's hips and shifting the angle ever so slightly. Tony cried out, fingers slipping faster over his cock. "Perfect," Steve continued, bending over and kissing Tony again. Tony choked back a noise he couldn't even define and came, Steve following a minute or so after.
Steve grabbed his shirt off the floor, wiped them both off, and collapsed onto the mattress, arm draped across Tony's stomach.
Tony waited until well after Steve's breathing had evened out before murmuring, "I love you, too."
"Pep, Pepper, Pepper-pie, what type of currency do they use in Asgard?"
"What?" Pepper's pen actually stilled and she stared at the phone.
His hair was a mess and he hadn't yet shaved today, Pepper noted. This was going to be interesting. "Does Thor even have a last name?" Tony wondered aloud, eyebrow quirked. "Thor Son-of-Odin? Or is his full name just 'Thor'? Do Asgardians have bank accounts?"
"Tony, are you drunk?" Pepper hissed at him, fingertips massaging her temple. "It's like, eight in the morning."
"Not drunk," Tony informed her cheerily and she saw a flash of blond in the background. Well then. "I just happen to owe Thor some money, that's all."
I just wanted to thank everyone for sticking through my crazy and continuing to read this, even after I made you all want to tear your hair out <3 I love you all <333