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As Light as a Butterfly's Touch

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"Oh, she's going to wipe the floor with him," Savannah says with far too much gusto for Tony's liking, her sleek majestic form sprawled on one of the training mats, out of the way of the fighting pair facing each other in the ring.

"Yesss, she is," Veli hisses in agreement, curled on himself close enough to Savannah to enjoy her warmth, but not touching. They are comfortable with each other, attesting to the tentative friendship Tony and Natasha are building but which neither of them would ever admit out loud.

"Both of you, silence. Don't distract them," Blackwing snaps from his perch on top of the punching bag Steve is currently destroying, for all appearances completely oblivious to the fact that Natasha and Tony are about to begin one of their scheduled torture sessions. Or, as Natasha calls them, sparring matches. They always leave Tony hurting in places he didn't know he could hurt, though he's getting steadily better at hand to hand combat without the suit.

Tony has the urge to tell Steve that if he really wants to pretend he's ignoring them, he shouldn't have his daemon watch the match, though he refrains from saying it out loud. Blackwing's right anyway; Tony can't afford to get distracted with Natasha as his opponent. Natasha doesn't have that problem, her focus is absolute.

Tony makes the first move, as per usual, stepping up to Natasha and trying a quick succession of punches that never land. He doesn't expect them to, but Natasha never initiates the match, waiting for her opponent to set the pace and reveal their strategy. She sidesteps him, kicking low at the back of his knees to try and break his balance. Tony has sparred enough with her to anticipate the move, and he moves back, trying a kick of his own to block her. It works, for the first time, and Natasha hums approvingly before jumping over him and attacking again from behind. Tony crouches low, expecting the acrobatics and avoiding a hit by a hair's breath.

"He'ssss getting better."

"He is, but not enough."

Savannah is right; they dance around each other, Tony barely avoiding the hits for a while. But he never has enough space to manoeuvre and launch one of his own. He's barely blocking her as it is, and they both know his stamina is not up to par with Natasha's. In ten minutes Tony is faltering, his breath short and his skin covered in sweat. Natasha is relentless and fast, and Tony is getting slower by the second. A misstep and Natasha's kick connects with his abdomen, sending Tony sprawling onto the mat. He stands again, gulping air and gritting his teeth against the pain, but they both know it's over. It goes all downhill from there, Tony barely able to block a hit out of three, Natasha pressing her advantage until she has him pinned to the mat. Tony taps out and Natasha gets up and offers him a hand to help him stand.

"Twenty three minutes," Steve says, from the side of the ring. Blackwing is perched on his shoulder, his sharp eyes following each movement, all pretence of not watching them forgotten. "You've outlasted yourself by four minutes." It is an accomplishment, as the first time they sparred Natasha had him almost begging for mercy after six minutes.

"You need to watch closer, Tony," Natasha explains, passing him a bottle of water and a towel. "You have to learn to read the body language and anticipate your enemy's movements."

"That's what I have JARVIS and the suit for," he says tiredly, and takes a long gulp of the water. He can see Veli slithering towards them, his sinuous body moving towards Natasha with the same deadly grace she has. He climbs her body with practiced easy, curling around her shoulders and resting his head next to her pulse. Natasha's hand moves automatically to pet Veli's head, a gesture so human and intimate that Tony has to avert his eyes. Natasha has been showing her human side more since she moved into the Tower.

Savannah is still sprawled on the mat, delicately licking the fur of her front paws as if nothing affects her. Tony knows it's not that, he can feel how much she wants to go to his side and press her head against him, but she's learned not to after a match. Every inch of Tony is hurting, and as much as he wants to bury his face in Savannah's spotted fur and feel her comforting touch, having a hundred and fifty pounds feline head-butting him when he's sore is not fun at all. They have both learned from experience.

"You can't always depend on the suit, you need to be able to defend yourself without it," Steve says, the voice of reason. And yes, Tony knows this, knows Steve is right and only says it because he actually cares about Tony and the team, because he worries like the mother hen he is.

He just doesn't like to be reminded how frail he is without the suit.

"And that is precisely the reason I let Natasha and Clint beat me up to their hearts content," Tony says wryly, and has to smother a smile at the suddenly concerned expression on Steve's face. "I'm not injured, just sore," he continues before Steve tries to examine him personally. It happened once after a match with Clint, and it's not something Tony will submit to willingly again, no matter how much he likes the feel of Steve's hands on him.

He'd rather go another round against Natasha, is less painful.

"You're sure?"

"Yeah, nothing a good long soak won't cure." Tony gestures to Savannah, who stands up and stretches gracefully, before padding to him. He puts a hand on her flank, feeling the soft fur under his fingers. "I'll get to it now."

He leaves with a smile and a rush of endorphins that last well into the night.

It makes the discomfort worth it.

If asked, Tony would have said he was a loner at heart.

He's famous, has an endless stream of beautiful women and men throwing themselves at him, is invited to hundreds of events and his face has adorned the front page of magazines frequently. He also enjoys spending more time alone in his workshop, with only Savannah, JARVIS and his bots for company, than is probably healthy. And he can count his real friends with the fingers of one hand and still be able to make the peace sign.

That's the reason he still doesn't know how he lost control of his life. And how he acquired a pseudo-family in the process.

He can probably pinpoint the moment it happened, and he blames Nick Fury for it. To be part of the Avengers all of them needed to be located in Shield headquarters readily available when needed, Fury had said, or somewhere else suitable and protected. Tony is convinced Fury knew what Tony's reaction was going to be, and was probably counting on it.

So he offered his tower; Tony had already done as much to Bruce and Thor, since they didn't have anywhere else to call home in New York. Doing the same for the rest of the team wasn't a big effort, though Tony resents being played by Fury.

What he wasn't expecting was to enjoy it as much as he's doing.

All of the Avengers are special and damaged in their own ways. And they have learned to cohabitate and enjoy each other's company in the six months they have been living in each other's pockets.

Bruce is, by far, the easiest to get along with. It's not surprising, since Tony and he hit it off on the helicarrier, both of them slipping into science talk with the eagerness of people thirsty for stimulating conversation. He's a good lab partner, quiet and smart, and with a wry sense of humour Tony appreciates greatly. Runa, his daemon squirrel, and Savannah also get along pretty well, snuggling together in a corner of the lab and talking in hushed voices as their humans lose themselves in science projects.

Clint surprised Tony the first time they met out of Shield. He had been expecting someone broody and serious, more like the professional image he projects. What he got is a prankster with a boisterous humour, a potty mouth, and the worst taste ever in movies and comics. He's also as deadly with an arrow as he is in the kitchen, and not in a good way. After the second time he almost poisoned the entire team, he was forbidden to get close to any food that wasn't already prepared and ready for consumption. Tony even had to reprogram JARVIS to disable any appliances if Clint is alone in the kitchen. It came as not surprise to anyone that his daemon is a hawk, though Tony still teases him for calling her Scope.

Natasha is not as scary as Tony had first thought. Well, no, that's a lie. Natasha is scary as fuck, and terribly competent in everything she does. But she also needs to wind down from time to time, and the first time Tony saw her in the couch with a mug of green tea watching some crazy Korean soap opera, he thought he had lost it. Completely. It's not difficult to see that she and Clint have something going on, platonic or not Tony has never been brave enough to ask, but it's the most normal thing to see Veli, her viper daemon, curled around Scope when they're in the same room.

Thor is the odd one out, and it was clear he wasn't from Earth since the moment he appeared without a daemon. He has MjöInir, though, and that seems to be enough for him. He's also the easiest to like, though he's crazy. It's almost impossible to dislike someone who is always happy and polite and comes up with the most amazingly insane plans to spend time.

And then there's Steve.

If there was ever any doubt that he was Captain America--and there wasn't, but that's not the point--it would have been cleared the moment Tony saw Blackwing. It fits that his daemon is an eagle as he is most of the time dressed in the flag. Tony knows they got on the wrong foot from the beginning, Loki's influence and Tony's own dislike for authority figures made for a very bad combination. But they moved past that.

It wasn't easy, because Tony is nothing if not stubborn, and he wanted to cling onto his resentment. What he wasn't counting on was that Steve can be as pig-headed as the worst of them, and he had got into his head that he and Tony were going to be friends. There was nothing Tony could do against him, not when Steve would seek him out and prevent him from isolating himself. Would drag Tony out of the workshop every chance he got, and when that failed, would just sit with him, keeping him company as unobtrusively as possible. It had been Steve who sat in silence with Tony when Pepper and he broke up, not judging or blaming anyone. And it is still Steve who spends most of the time with Tony, learning about the new century and technology, or just being there.

It's not wonder then that Tony's childhood crush on Captain America has come back with a vengeance, because now he not only knows the symbol, he knows the man.

And if it's easy to be in lust with Cap, it's even easier to be in love with Steve.

"Spar with me."

Tony looks back to make sure Steve is talking to him, but yes, there is nobody behind him. He's only gone to the gym to check on Clint, hoping to find him there, but he must have just missed him. The only person in there is Steve, who is slowly working over some sort of slow motion katas dressed only in track pants and a film of sweat. There is a reason they call him the pinnacle of human perfection, and it's all on display right now.

It's not as if Tony hasn't noticed before how incredibly beautiful Steve is, one would need to be blind and probably half dead to miss it. It's not just the body, though Steve's body has the kind of sculpted perfection to make Michelangelo weep in envy; it's the clear blue eyes, and the lush mouth, and the fine cheekbones and blonde hair--and Tony is insane if he's ogling Captain America and thinking these things while Steve still waits for an answer.

He shakes himself out of his daze, moving his eyes from Steve to Blackwing. It's not as gorgeous a view, but it's definitely much safer.

"Sure, let me grab the suit." It has become a thing for the team, the sparring matches. It helps all of them to keep in good shape, and it's much safer than the shouting matches or sulking contests they engaged in during the first couple of weeks. Even Bruce spars from time to time, though the Hulk clearly doesn't need it. He says it helps him clear his head, and the rest of the team goes easy on him.

"No, no suit. Just you and me," Steve says, before Tony has the chance to move.

Tony turns to stare at him, his shock clear on his face. He's sparred with Steve before, but always in the suit. It's the same with Thor, he wouldn't last more than two minutes against them without it; Tony's only human.

"Ok, what did I do and why do you want to kill me now?" He asks half jokingly. Steve frowns, as if he's not sure whether to take Tony seriously and be offended. "Right, sorry, just kidding," Tony clarifies, just in case. "You know it's not going to be much of a challenge without the suit."

Steve relaxes at that, going to one of the benches and picking up his t-shirt. Tony doesn't feel disappointed at all that the perfect view is covered, absolutely not.

"Damn, that's a shame," Savannah says in a low voice, taking position on the side of the ring.

"Shhh, super-hearing over there," Tony scolds her from the corner of his mouth, attracting Blackwing attention to them. The eagle flies from her perch and settles close to Savannah.

"I can also hear it," she says, and if it was possible for a bird to smile, she would be smiling.

"I'm not looking for a challenge; I want to teach you a couple of moves that can be useful against Natasha and Clint." Steve is back in the ring, carefully wrapping his hands with tape. He tosses it to Tony when he's done, an open smile on his face that never fails to make Tony feel warm. He wraps his own hands, tossing the tape out of the ring when he's done.  "Ready?"

"As I'll ever be."

They start slow, circling each other until Tony loses his patience and lunges at Steve, who dodges easily and aims a sharp jab at his ribs. Tony blocks it, though he can feel the impact on his arms, and retaliates with a hit to the face.

"That's your first mistake," Steve lectures, blocking Tony with ease. "You're impatient; you're always the one to throw the first punch. And it's always a punch. You need to change your moves." He illustrates his words sweeping Tony's feet and making him stumble against the ropes.

"I get it," Tony replies, feinting a hit and ducking under Steve arms when he throws another punch. Tony has the time to hit him once in the side before retreating, and has to grit his teeth against the pain in his hand. He always forgets that hitting Steve is like hitting a wall, though he's sure Steve barely felt it.

Supersoldier strength sucks when you're going against it.

They exchange hits for a minute, and it's clear that Steve is pulling his punches, something Tony is deeply thankful for. He would already be dead if he wasn't.

"Weren't you going to teach me something?" Tony says, after a particularly painful kick that sends him straight to the mat. Steve grabs his hand and pulls him up.

"Yes, but we need to warm up a bit first, I don't want you to get hurt."

Tony is about to say that he's hurting enough, but he doesn't want Steve to stop the match and begin with the mother hen routine. And as much as it always leaves him sore, he enjoys having Steve's hands on him. Steve is warm, and his hands are huge, and when he's not hitting Tony, they're actually very gentle.

"Ok, so, this move. Attack me."

Tony stares at him, arching up an eyebrow. "I'd rather not. You're going to toss me onto the mat again." And it sounds whiny and petulant, like a small child. But it tears a laugh out of Steve, so Tony counts it as a victory.

"I was going to do that anyway," Steve laughs, "but I can show you how to do that to Clint."

"Ok."

Tony's attack is unsubtle, but it doesn't need to fool Steve. He sees how Steve dodges under his arm, one of his hands catching Tony's wrist, his hip coming up to break his balance, and the next thing he knows, Tony is face down on the mat, arm twisted almost painfully at his back and a couple hundred pounds of Supersoldier laying on top of him. He tries to move ineffectually, it's like trying to dislodge a boulder from his back.

Steve twists his arm a bit further up and Tony stops moving.

"I yield! Good move. Teach it to me."

"I just did."

"Do it again!" Tony says, trying to move again. Steve is warm and solid against his back, and though it should be painful and embarrassing, it feels good. He's too careful to harm Tony.

"I think I'll explain the moves first, and then you can try."

"You can do that standing up," Tony protests, because seriously, if Steve doesn't move soon this is going to turn painful for a whole different reason. "Come on, move."

"But I'm comfortable here," Steve says teasingly, releasing the pressure on Tony's arm but not allowing him to move.

"Steve--" It's not a whine, definitely not.

"Tony--" It comes out low, breathless, and suddenly the mood is not playful anymore. And Tony really hopes he's not reading more than it actually is to this, because he's one second away from turning his head and kissing Steve. "Tony I--"

Whatever it is Steve is about to say, gets lost in the sound of the Avengers alarm.

Someone, up high, is laughing at Tony Stark.

One would think that after the fourth attempt to invade Earth by nasty aliens resulting in the Avengers crushing them, word would have spread around the universe that any conquering army who wanted to actually conquer something, should stay away from that particular planet.

Instead, Tony is sure the word out there is: "Go play with the Avengers, they're fun."

It's the only explanation he can come up with for the endless stream of disgusting aliens pouring through no less than twenty portals in Times Square. At least this time they are not bugs, but that's the only good thing that can be said for them. The aliens look like the bastard love child of an octopus and a dwarf, tentacle-beard included, and their weapons are way more advanced than the axes one would expect in dwarves. Unless one expected axes that would return to the owners once thrown, explode on contact, and be able to shoot lasers.

Oh, and the fuckers can fly.

Luckily they are not especially smart or hard to kill, once they stand still long enough to be smashed, or shot at. What they lack in strength and intelligence, they make up in sheer numbers and weaponry.

"Two more Cthulhus on your nine, Iron Man," Clint's voice says, far too gleeful for a man who's running and shooting at the same time, evading a swarm of aliens out of a Lovecraftian nightmare by a hair's breath. And well, yeah, Tony has been waiting for the first one to say the name.

"Cthulhu, Baton? Really?" Natasha says, and she sounds out of breath. Tony has lost sight of her in the melee of bodies trying to flee the square and the mass of aliens trying to take over it, but he's not too worried about her. If there is someone who should be worried, it's the aliens.

"If the shoe fits."

Tony blasts the two coming at him and turns around to find three more; he takes care of them as well. Down on the ground Savannah is on herding duty, trying to corral as many of the damned things as possible in one place for Thor or Tony to blast them out of existence. Blackwing in soaring in the sky, serving as Steve's eyes and pointing him to the places he's most needed. Scope is doing the same for Natasha, Veli curled tightly around her neck to avoid being trampled on.

"Corner of 48th," Savannah says inside Tony's head, and he moves there, immediately seeing what she wants him to do. He's almost there when he feels a shudder coursing though his body, a feeling of revulsion so powerful as to make him falter mid-flight. He feels dirty, and violated, and it's nothing he has ever experienced before.

"Savannah!" He shouts, seeing one of the aliens clinging to the fur on her back. Tony fears he might be sick inside the suit, and then the feeling vanishes. He can see Steve's shield knocking the thing off his daemon, the relief almost overwhelming. He's still shaken, white dots appearing in his vision with the effort not to be sick, but he has to get his focus back, rejoin the fight and kill as many of these fuckers as he can. "Thanks, Cap," he says before sending a repulsor blast to the corralled group, and he's proud that his voice doesn't crack.

He pulls back into the fight, the portals keep spewing out more aliens, and they need to find the point of origin if they want to end this and go home. Tony, for one, has every intention to get the longest, hottest shower ever to get rid of the dirty feeling that still clings to his skin.

"JARVIS, how long?"

"I'm still analyzing all the data, sir."

"I need that information like, yesterday JARVIS!" He turns to avoid colliding with the Hulk, who is happily smashing every single alien he can see, Runa clinging tightly to his neck as he jumps from one building to another.

"Iron Man, above you!" Steve's voice cuts through, and he turns to see another portal opening, straight into the path of Blackwing. The eagle dips down to avoid it, but it's not fast enough for the enemies coming through. On the ground, Steve is looking at the scene with the same horror Tony felt a couple of minutes ago, his shield already flying towards the portal, and he fails to see the weapon pointed at him.

"Oh hell no, Steve!"

It happens too fast, though Tony sees it in slow motion. The shield knocks the first alien back into its dimension, but there are a lot more behind. One comes through the portal and smacks Blackwing down, knocking the daemon out of the sky; Steve stiffens, face twisting in a mixture of revulsion and pain, unable to dodge the hit, and then crumples to the ground. And Tony is torn between the two of them, but he knows Blackwing would not survive the fall. Not from that distance. And if Blackwing dies, so does Steve.

"Savannah, protect Steve!" He dives toward Blackwing, putting as much speed as he dares to catch him.

"Sir, the point of origin is the portal on the corner of Broadway and 47th, over the Billy Eliot billboard," JARVIS cool voice announces in his ear.

"Thank fuck! Inform Thor, he's the closest, and tell him to plug it. Hopefully that will take care of the rest of them." On the ground, Savannah is being surrounded by aliens, Steve unconscious on the ground. She's snarling and hissing, keeping them at a distance, but they are becoming bolder and getting closer, and Tony can't afford to have any of those things touching her again. Or even worse, shooting at her. "Savannah, grab Steve and get the fuck out of there. I don't care how, just carry him on your back and run if you must. You're the fastest, just get him clear!"

"But Tony--"

"Just do it!" Tony pulls sharply out of the dive, hands outstretched to catch Blackwing before she hits the ground. Just as the bird comes to a rest in his hands, Tony feels an all-encompassing warmth at his back. He sees Savannah carrying his orders, and Tony knows it's Steve he's feeling, and it should be disgusting, but it isn't. It's not alien hands grabbing him, it's Steve, and for all its strangeness, it feels right. Gentle, powerful, loving.

Also, distracting as hell.

Tony doesn't see the lightning crashing in front of him until is too late, and then the only thing he can do is curl himself tighter around Blackwing and hope for the best.

When Tony comes to he's still in Times Square, and for once it's not completely demolished after an Avenger's fight. It's worse for wear, that's true, but the fact that the only unmoving bodies around are those of the aliens is a score in their favour.

All the portals appear to be closed, and what looks like a million octupus-dwarves litter the street. Bruce is back to normal, only shirtless, and he's shaking Tony carefully.

"Tony!"

"Yeah, I'm here," he says, blinking and trying to sit up. He's in an awkward position, and it takes him a second to remember why. When he does, he moves his arms and is confronted with the disapproving stare of Blackwing. Which means Steve is ok. He heaves a sigh of relief and lets the eagle go. "Savannah!" he looks around, and sees her running to him at top speed, and considering she's a cheetah, that's saying something. She stops next to him, and Tony lifts the faceplate and buries his head in her neck, breathing deeply. "Fuck clean up, I'm ready to go home now."

Steve is avoiding him.

Tony knows this with the same certainty he knows the reason why. And he can't really blame Steve, can he?

For the past five days, since the fight with the Lovecraftian aliens, and it was totally Clint the one who came up with that, not Tony, Steve has failed to come even once to the workshop, and if Tony happens to find him in any of the common rooms, Steve always uses some excuse to get away. He's not even subtle about it. They have all let him to it, because the fight was especially hard on him, and he deserves to have his space.

There is also the fact that Tony crossed a huge boundary during that fight. He might not regret doing it, because Steve's life rates way higher on Tony's scale than any social convention, and he would do it again in heartbeat. But he's still sorry it was necessary, and that it seems to have strained their friendship.

This is the reason Tony is standing in front of Steve's closed door, ready to apologize.

And Tony hates apologizing.

He's been standing there for the past five minutes, just staring at the door and thinking about what he's going to say to Steve. Somehow, he has the feeling that Yeah, sorry but I'd do it again, isn't going to cut it.

"If you're going in, just do it," Savannah says, nudging his hand with her head.

"But what if he's really angry, what if he doesn't forgive me. He's from another time, and I'm sure they would have executed us or something for what we did back then."

Savannah tilts her head to stare at him, and Tony doesn't need to read her mind, her expression is calling him a moron loud and clear. He pats her head, drawing comfort from her presence. If Steve doesn't forgive him, at least there is someone who will always do, always stay with him.

He knocks on the door and opens it before waiting for a reply. This time he's not giving Steve the chance to avoid him. He's sitting on the bed, knees drawn to his body and Blackwing perched on them. They appear to be immersed in their own world, and both of them turn sharply at the sound of the door closing.

"Tony! What are you doing here?" Steve sounds startled, a guilty expression flickering on his face, gone to fast for Tony to be certain it was there. Then he smoothes it out, his Cap face taking its place. "Is there an emergency?"

"No, no emergency. We need to talk." Tony steps up to him, stopping a couple of feet from the bed but not looking at Steve. Instead, his eyes are firmly fixed on the not so interesting carpet. "Look, I know you've been avoiding me, and I know I owe you an apology. A very big one." He takes a breath; this is going to be harder than he anticipated. He can still feel a phantom touch on his skin, warm and comforting, and so Steve, and it's been driving him mad, these past days, the memory of that touch and the feeling that he might never experience it again.

Savannah, feeling his agitation, plasters herself to his side, Tony's hand resting on her head.

"Tony--"

"I'm sorry. I know what I did was uncomfortable, and a gross invasion of your privacy, and a breach of every single taboo we've been taught since childhood. I know, and I'm sorry, but I wasn't thinking clearly, and we were in the middle of a fight--"

"Tony--"

"--and I couldn't see another way to get you out. And I'm sorry I caught Blackwing like that, but at least it wasn't my hands, it was the suit, so you didn't feel it, did you? Though it was a risk, I could have done more harm that good, those gauntlets are hard, but she would have--"

"Tony! I'm not--"

"--God, I really messed up this time, and I'm sorry, but I couldn't let anything happen to you. And I know that you're strong and everything, but you're not invincible, especially if they target Blackwing, and I just couldn't--"

"Blackwing, go!"

"--can't let anything like that happen, so yes, I'm sorry, but--" He cuts himself off at the feeling of talons on his shoulder and feathers against his neck, snapping his mouth shut so hard his teeth rattle. He feels something else, warmth and affection and embarrassment and hope, all coloured with a bit of guilt and fear. It takes him a moment to realize that Blackwing has perched on his shoulder, and then he closes his eyes and lets himself be enveloped in all those feeling that aren't his.

They're Steve's.

When he opens his eyes again, Steve is staring at him. He's blushing to the roots of his hair, but he's holding himself still and straight, his hands gripping the edge of the bed so tightly his knuckles are white.

He nudges Savannah, still too stunned to do anything more, Blackwing nipping softly at his ear. Savannah stalks to Steve, elegant and beautiful, and drops her head on his lap. The feelings double, so powerful Tony's knees threaten to give in. He locks them, and walks woodenly to the bed, dropping next to Steve.

Steve is still frozen in the same position, his eyes wide and impossibly blue. "Tony," he says, and his voice is barely a whisper. "I could feel you, when I woke up on Savannah's back during the fight, I could feel you. It was as if your feelings and mine were the same in my head, almost impossible to untangle. And when you blacked out--I haven't been so afraid in my life. But I could still feel you."

"I know," Tony says, finally finding his voice. His throat is dry and he can feel his heart beating at double speed, and he doesn’t know if it's him or Steve the one close to a heart attack. Or maybe it's both.

What they're doing here is wrong. It's so wrong. Society would frown upon them, and the newspapers and magazines would have a field day. But it feels right.

"I didn't mean to avoid you; I just needed to separate your feelings from mine. I needed to know that when I felt all that--" Steve falters at that, and Tony closes his eyes and concentrates on separating the jumble of emotions and follow the one that's making Steve blush and stutter like that. He smiles when he does. "That it was you, not me projecting on to you all that--"

"Love, that's the word you're looking for."

"Yes, that's the one." Steve finally unclenches his hand from the bed, moving it to Savannah's head. And if just them touching had felt good, it's nothing to the frisson that runs Tony's spine when Steve starts petting her.

"Yeah, that was all me," Tony finally says, breathless. And Steve needs to stop doing that right now, or this conversation it's going to take an embarrassing turn.

"Not all. Not only you."

They stare at each other for what feels like and eternity, neither of them moving.

"Oh, will you kiss already?" Blackwing snaps, breaking the moment and flying off Tony to land on Savannah's back. They look at each other for a second, then Savannah moves away from Steve and lays down under the window.

"Yeah Tony, kiss him already. You've been dying to do it for months."

"Oh, shut up!" Tony says, and does exactly that.