"JARVIS, bring me up the diagram of the- you know the one, I need to look it over again real quick,” Tony is in the middle of saying, but when he glances up JARVIS hasn’t done it. “Uh…”
“Just a suggestion, sir,” JARVIS begins, and Tony mentally sighs and translates it to ‘here’s what’s going to happen’, “but perhaps you should save your current progress and continue tomorrow. It is five minutes to 23:00 hours.”
Tony looks from where he’s soldering wires to a metal plate and glances at the digital clock JARVIS has so helpfully brought up for him.
“Shit, really? How long have I been down here?”
“Approximately seven and a half hours, sir. I believe you’ve forgotten to eat again.”
“Yeah, yeah, sass-bot. Where’s Steve?” Normally Tony wouldn’t worry about getting food or sleep when he's so into what he's doing, but he knows that Steve won’t, can’t fall asleep without him there, and Captain America needs to be well-rested at all times.
He shudders to think what Coulson, Natasha, or really any other Avenger or SHIELD employee would do to him if one of them found out he wasn't keeping Steve as healthy as possible. Christ, Steve has a lot of friends.
“Captain Rogers is in the main floor living room, sir.”
“Thanks, JARVIS. Save all of the current stuff for me, will you? Keep everything out though so I don’t forget what I was doing. Again.”
“Of course, sir. Shall I inform the Captain that you’re on your way up?”
“No, no, I’ll just see what he’s up to.”
It’s a quick elevator ride and a straight-shot into the living room, where Tony finds Steve sprawled ass up on the couch with his head in his arms, staring mindlessly at the horribly-patterned carpet. He really does mean to get around to getting a less ugly one. Someday. Maybe.
"Hey, hot shot, what’re you doing?” Tony asks, walking forward and kneeling to put his arms over the back of the couch, head perched atop them. Steve, of course, doesn't startle, just rolls to face him.
“Waiting for you,” Steve replies, yawning. “Tired.”
Tony chuckles and reaches out to run his fingers through Steve's silky blonde hair. “Yeah, sorry about that, got caught up improving the gauntlets. JARVIS had to remind me what time it was and kick me out. Up, you, let’s get you to bed. Good little soldiers need their sleep, or whatever.”
“Mmph,” Steve replies intelligently, then blinks and seems to focus a little more. “Don’t you need to eat, first? I know you haven’t eaten since lunch.”
“I’m good, I had a couple protein bars around 7," Tony lies, practically feeling the judgemental vibes coming from JARVIS, "but you look dead on your feet. Up, c’mon, it’s past your bedtime.”
“I don’t have a bedtime,” Steve sighs, but gets up anyway. As he stands he pulls his body into a magnificent stretch that leaves Tony practically drooling, but, no, he thinks to himself firmly, Steve is too tired.
There’s always time for that tomorrow, and Tony is considerate. Usually. It’d be wrong to order Steve to have sex with him, even if he technically could. Tony always makes sure Steve wants it before they do anything sexual.
He'd feel too creepy, otherwise.
Steve catches the lingering glance and shoots a pointed look at Tony. It's about as much as he can protest, though, unless he wants a headache (at the least).
Steve trusts Tony to know what he needs, though. How could he not? For the two months they’ve been together, Tony has been wonderful. The most Steve's gotten punished for to date is pleasuring himself without Tony's permission (which he'd immediately felt guilty for and told Tony about), and those kinds of punishments aren't too harsh. Embrassing, usually, but not harsh.
Tony is particularly creative with punishments, and he hasn't repeated one yet. Not that Steve acts out often, but back in his day there wasn't so many... options, and they certainly weren't as... nice. It's almost to the point where Steve would like to act out just to see what Tony's going to do next...
But, that would be foolish. Tony is great. Steve hadn't exactly expected to imprint as submissive, but with Tony, it just makes sense. Pepper's thanked him more than a dozen times for just existing, because Tony takes care of himself much better since Steve's been around. Tony even does things that Steve doesn't at all expect, like encouraging him to go and do his own things while he’s in the lab or otherwise occupied. When Tony found out his favorite hobby, Steve had woken up two days later to his own personal studio. It's all definiely not something Steve's used to seeing just yet. The thirties and fourties weren't a perfect time for the majority of submissives.
It was hard at first, though, what with Steve being assigned to lead the team, but Tony has even been amenable to that. It doesn’t mean that Tony doesn’t abuse it a bit and play by his own rules when he feels like it's neccesary. He tends to be reckless, and Steve can't really keep telling him what to do without side affects.
Steve hadn't thought he could get sick anymore, but SHIELD doctors say it's an ingrained response that even the serum can't keep at bay. Steve'll get sick if he tries to order Tony around more than twice because Tony isn't listening, and Natasha gets furious when Steve is feeling less than 100%, especially in the middle of a mission.
Tony's very amenable to keeping Steve symptom-free when that threat is looming.
It's a strange thing, he muses. No one is born knowing what they are or will be until they hear the other persons voice, or see them. It can even happen through a picture or now, a TV or computer screen. As long as the person is alive and (most importantly, they'd found out) breathing, it's possible to hear their voice or see them and know.
(It's amusing now to see what people do to try to find their bonded. Grand gestures and crazy stunts so that they wind up on the internet, or on the television, hoping their bonded is watching. There's an Agency now, Tony told him, devoted to helping people find their bonded, once one person has seen or heard the other. It's been very successful.)
There was also the possibility that it would never happen, but Steve always believed he would find his bonded. In War time, people would take who they could get, 'right' person or not, just for the company. Steve hadn't- not for sex. He'd known from watching Bucky that it wasn't 100% satisfying. More of a means to an end, and he'd never seen the point when you could get the same results by yourself.
He kept faith through the few years after turning 18, when the bond could officially manifest, and then, sailing to his death in that plane, he'd felt a moment of regret that he'd never found him or her. A moment of regret that they'd never find him, and he was leaving them alone.
Of course, Steve wouldn't have dared dream that he’d get a second chance in life. Didn’t, couldn't, ever consider that he’d wake up seventy years in the future, be handed a packet with debriefs on all the team members (DVD footage included), and pop it in only to immediately imprint on Howard's son.
Steve had been shocked, but also elated. He was sure he'd go through his "second chance" without that special someone, and then have to settle. It wouldn't be so horrible, but there was a lingering feeling of regret that he would never experience the bond, and never truly know. According to Tony, it's about a 70/30 ratio now, of bonded and then unbonded.
The first person who'd known was Natasha, since she'd been watching with him. It was what prompted their... kinship, he supposed you would call it. They're pretty close, now, much to Tony's horror.
Fury had had a fit when he was told, grumbling that it would affect the team dynamic, but didn't have another option when Tony apparently watched his debriefing video eight hours later, and stormed into SHIELD demanding to meet his new sub, a smug grin on his face as Fury's forehead vein bulged.
With Tony's luck being what it is (he insists it was his bad luck), that was almost the exact moment when New York was put on priority alert, and the team was put to the test. One ridiculously tough mission involving a Norse god with a very apparent grudge later, Steve had moved into Stark tower and they'd set up some ground rules.
Steve gained one very eccentric and enthusiastic Dominant (and lost his virginity), just hours later.
"Steve? Hey, Steve? God, you must be tired. Captain!"
"Hmm?" Steve replies, blinking rapidly. Tony rolls his eyes, and a tendril of embarrassment curls it's way through Steve's body, darkening his cheeks with a pink flush. "Sorry I.. I don't know, got thinking?"
Tony eyes him critically for a moment, deciding whether or not to push the issue, but he shrugs. "Whatever. I believe you had a long day at SHIELD and could use some rest, yes? C'mon, c'mon. The sooner I get you to fall asleep, the sooner I can sneak away back to my gauntlets," Tony says, grabbing and attempting to move Steve towards the elevator.
"Tony! You need sleep, too," Steve protests, but lets himself be dragged in and then out of the elevator and to their shared bed.
"Sleep is overrated, Steven," is Tony's reply, once they're both in pajamas and crawling under the covers. Steve doesn't respond verbally, just throws himself half on top of Tony and buries his face in Tony's neck, pinning him casually to the bed.
"Ugh, seriously? You're like, the worst," Tony's protesting, albeit half-heartedly and while getting comfortable on the bed, because it's hard for him to get too upset about it when there's a very attractive super soldier cuddling up to him. His very own super soldier, in fact. It's not like the gauntlets can't wait eight hours.
Steve just smiles against Tony's neck. He's glad for this- all of it. So he'd never expected to wake up 70 years in the future and imprint on Howard's son, of all people. So he didn't really expect to imprint as submissive, either. It's all worth it for this.
And, after all, fate works in mysterious ways.