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Crash Love

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He repeats the phrase he said before, the exact same words, same pause after the term of endearment, but his tone has changed entirely. It is no longer something slick and well-practiced, something used and a little challenging. It is softer around the edges, just like his eyes are, the words slip sliding together down a slope that Steve doesn’t know he can come back from, matching the frantic beat of his heart, too hard and too fast and skewing everything out of proportion.

Those words, from Tony’s lips, are softer and mean so much more than they had before, too dangerous in how gentle they are.

“Darling, I want to destroy you.”

You do. It is all he can think, body reacting to those words, that tone, the too light sweep of hands down his chest and along his sides. You do. Oh how you do. He can’t say it back, the words that he thought had been a challenge at first, but were always painfully an invitation that he just didn’t want to utter. I want to let you.

He does want, it is always wanting and never having until it is so close. So close like the way that Tony’s eyes seem to be smiling even if his mouth isn’t. Smiling and endearing and it is too much.

And oh how it terrifies him.

“I’d like to see you try, Stark.” The sounds slip out, too distracted and not forceful enough to even deserve to be classified as words. It isn’t the truth that he can’t bear to say, nor is it the defensive challenge that it should be. He frowns, feeling heat in his cheeks at his own inability to stay in control of himself, but there is a smirk dancing across Tony’s lips, more like he always looks, and it distracts him all over again. Smirking he can deal with. Clever words and quick biting wit he expects.

It just keeps catching him off guard every time Tony looks at him, really looks at him, with eyes too soft and says trivial phrases with a tone that hints at so much more meaning.

“A challenge, darling? You might regret that.” Tony’s voice sounds light, too bright, too much in contrast to what he’s said a few moments before. Like he is trying to regain his footing, settle back on to safe ground.

He doesn’t have a chance to reply, to figure out for himself if he will regret doing this, being alone with Tony, being in his bedroom with him. He doesn’t think he will. The time for regret has passed. Or it is still to come. It is hard to think, hard to concentrate when Tony’s hands are drifting down to his hips, fingers tracing the points and curves of the bones, touching the lines and creases in the muscle above his hips, across his stomach. Fingers trail, trace the edges and lines and tease. Tease until he wants to snap at Tony to just get on with it. Until eventually thumbs press into the insides of his thighs, too high and so sensitive he is sure he can feel every ridge and groove of Tony’s thumbprints.

Thumbs dig in, callouses and fingernails starting to hurt just a fraction before he relents and lets Tony guide his legs open.

Tony is looking at him again, lip caught between his teeth like he is trying to stop himself saying something, eyes too soft and distracting. Too alluring.

Steve has to look away.

“Tell me what you want, gorgeous, tell me what I can do for you. Any—”

“Stark.” He interrupts, word short and sharp and he means it to silence, to stop, because he doesn’t want to think about wanting. Wanting what is so close, what is staring down at him too softly, too tenderly. He shouldn’t want. Not because Tony’s a team mate, or because he’s another man. Because he’s Tony.

“—thing you want, darling.” The tone of voice, the use of the endearment, it feels more like a caress than the sweep of thumbs against the skin of his inner thighs, creeping higher and higher with each stroke. Each stroke making the itch and want and heat build more and more beneath his skin.

Tony’s smiling at him, the soft curve of lips and the creases beside his eyes, and he doesn’t realise that it’s his own voice scratching out “Kiss me,” into the air between them before the creases deepen and there’s a hint of white teeth between smiling lips.

“Of course, sweetheart, it would be my pleasure.”

The thumbs disappear from the inside of his thighs, hands sweeping up his sides and a leg slotting in between his, knocking a breath out of him that’s caught by Tony’s mouth. There’s a hand on the side of his neck, fingers pressing into his hair, steadying him and he hadn’t realised how much he needs it. The world is off kilter, lips and tongue pushing him closer and closer to the precipice. The hand against his hip, fingers curling and pressing into his skin, following the rise and fall of his hips.

Embarrassment sparks when he realises he is grinding against Tony’s thigh. He wants to stop, thinks he should stop, but the moment he stills, fingers dig into his hip, encouraging him to keep going. He does.

His chest feels tight, not enough air and too much heat, lips and tongue against his and all he can think is that no wonder people want to be with Tony, when he kisses like that, so careful and sweet, hot and wanting, like all he wants to do, is just kiss and kiss and keep kissing and touching. The leg between his presses closer, presses tighter, more friction and heat, the weight of Tony’s chest against his, bearing down on him and he’s drowning. Drowning in want and need and oh how he wants.

He’s shuddering into the touch of Tony’s hands, the fingers curling against his neck, the hand gripping at his hip and he has to touch back, but his arms feel like lead, they hardly want to move. He makes them, makes them move until his hands touch Tony’s skin, cool from the air, smooth silk over wiry muscle, arms, shoulders, back, the curve of the ribs and the line of his waist. Tony’s skin feels so smooth and delicate. Steve’s hands are too large and too rough in comparison; he doesn’t want to hurt him, but he doesn’t want to stop touching.

“Steve?” Tony’s voice whispers across the space in front of his closed eyes, gentle and worried; he doesn’t want him to worry. They’ve stopped kissing, he must have missed that, too caught up in the feel of Tony’s skin, the leg between his pressing closer, rocking forwards and back to create stimulation. He’s gasping wetly into the air between them, not knowing why, everything feels like it’s too much, and they haven’t even done anything.

He’s not some wet behind the ears virgin, he isn’t, he can’t explain why he’s acting like one, touch starved and needy, it hasn’t been that long. It hasn’t. Months, less than a year. He shouldn’t be acting like this.

“Steve, darling, tell me everything is okay.”

Open eyes and Tony’s right there, stroking the hair back from his forehead, looking at him with concern creasing his brow, the lip caught between his teeth is let go to allow a smile.

“There you are, gorgeous. Is everything okay?” Fingers touch against the side of his face, thumb dragging against his lips and he’s shuddering against Tony all over again.

“Didn’t go anywhere.” He tries to bite out the reply, but his voice is too rough, too breathless, but he doesn’t think he sounds tempting and alluring like Tony does with his voice all husky. He probably sounds pathetic.

Knuckles caress the side of his face, follow the line of his jaw; the touch too soft, like Tony’s lips when he kisses him again, the hint of alcohol still lingering on his breath. “I beg to differ, sweetheart. Now shh, don’t argue. Tell me what you want.”

What he wants? He hardly knows, can hardly work it out, but the steady thrum of you, I want you, whispers in his mind. He catches the words behind his teeth before they can escape, because some things just don’t warrant saying. “Sex, Stark. That’s why I came here.”

Tony’s weight shifts back, pulls away from his chest, arms bracketing his shoulders so he can look at him, amused, Steve hopes. He doesn’t mean to see the little bit of disappointment behind Tony’s lopsided grin. “Then you’ve come to the right place, gorgeous, but how do you want it? There are so many different options.”

He thinks he should ask what Tony likes, what he wants to do, but he had said anything, and a man didn’t just offer that if he didn’t mean it. And Tony had been with women before, and men, so he had to be open to a lot of options. “I want,” he closes his eyes, breathes to steady himself, and opens his eyes again, “I want you to fuck me.”

“Delightful proposition, such a way with words,” His eyes are a fraction wider than before, like it isn’t the response he expected. “Are you sure, darling?”

He nods, even as he wants to push Tony away from him and leave. It feels like Tony is laughing at him, judging him.

“Have you ever done this before?” Tony shifts back again, until he’s kneeling, straddling one of Steve’s legs, and his hands drop to caress Steve’s thighs and hips, sweeping fingers against the dips of his stomach muscles.

It’s distracting, distracting enough that he can’t think to lie, his head shaking before he has time to think about it. Tony’s hands fall still against his skin, and Steve narrows his eyes enough to glare in response. “Doesn’t mean I don’t know I want to.” He does want to, he knows that, has known that, and he wants it to be Tony, so he can get it all out of his system, so he can stop wanting.

Fingers press a little sharper, one thumb brushing along the side of his cock, the first non-incidental touch. He shudders into the feel of it, wants more, more of Tony, more touches, more attention. “Okay, gorgeous, okay, we can do that. Just let me grab a few things.”

Tony slips backwards off the bed and he tries not to reach for him to make him stay. He must make some sort of noise though, because Tony looks up at him, strokes a hand down his shin and over the top of his foot, squeezes his toes. There’s too much affection in his eyes and he wants to tell him to stop looking at him like that. Like he means something, like he matters.

Like Tony actually cares.

The grip on his toes tightens for a moment, then slips away and Tony moves up along the side of the bed, to the chest of drawers against the wall. “Do you want me to use a condom?”

There’s a beat of silence where he can’t just let himself say no.

“It’s up to you, my dear. I’m clean. There’s paperwork to prove it, if you don’t believe me, but it is a personal choice.”

He lets the silence drag a little longer, watches Tony standing by the drawer, naked and beautiful, and he tries not to think about how he’s looking better, less sick. Tries not to think about how bad he has looked.

Tony turns, smirking when he catches him looking. “Well darling?”

He frowns, realises he’s almost forgotten the question. “Not like I can catch anything anyway.”

Tony’s eyes narrow a fraction, and he rubs the heel of his hand against his sternum. It would look nervous on anyone else. But it’s Tony. He’s pretty sure Tony doesn’t know how to look nervous. “That’s a no to the condom then, is it sweetheart?”

He rolls over, huffing out a yes, because he suddenly can’t stand the fact that he’s just lying there, naked and exposed. The pillowcase is cool and soft against his flushed face, it would be easy enough to stop breathing. Smother himself. But he doesn’t. Arms up beneath the pillow, hands against cool sheets, silk, his shoulders bunching and pushing up as he lifts himself slightly.

The soft pad of footsteps and Tony is back again, fingers tracing the arch of his foot and curling around his ankle. “Darling.”

It sounds like a question, like the start of a longer sentence with a pause for dramatic effect, like an opportunity to say he has changed his mind. He doesn’t say anything.

Fingers and thumb press and massage his ankle, seeking muscle and ligaments. “You comfortable, sweetheart? There are a lot of other positions.” The thumb strokes idly along his Achilles’ tendon, “There’s a whole book on positions, if this is a little archaic for you.”

“I want yo—it like this.” So I don’t have to look at you. So you can’t see how much I want this. Want you. If I crack and break at least you won’t see me. “Just get on with it, Stark, a man could grow old waiting.”

The hand on his ankle squeezes tighter for a moment before it releases. “Okay, whatever you want, Captain.”

The bed dips as Tony settles into it, knees either side of one leg, hand trailing up the back of his calf, fingers dancing and tickling as Tony shuffles up the bed. He can feel his skin prickling and not for the first time he wishes that Tony was less tactile.

There’s the snick and flick of a lid opening, but Tony’s hand doesn’t move from where it’s resting on the back of his thigh, fingers flexing cool and calloused against his skin. It sparks more lightning-hot want in the pit of his stomach and it makes the anger welling up in his chest bite back. He’s not even sure who he’s angry at. He wants it to be Tony; that would be easy. If he is angry at Tony maybe he’ll stop wanting him.

It’s not Tony.

“Are you sure about this? Steve, gorgeous, there’s no shame if you change your mind.” Tony’s words are soft, careful, a touch hesitant. “You really are gorgeous like this. Spread out on my bed. But if this isn’t where you want to be, I won’t hold that against you, sweetheart. You can leave. Any time you want.”

He isn’t sure if it’s a subtle rejection or a chance to escape. Both, maybe, the latter probably. He really hopes it isn’t the former. He doesn’t know what he’ll do if Tony kicks him out. The want, hot and needy inside him, would probably burn him up entirely.

“I want this.”

There is a huff behind him, and he doesn’t have to turn to know that Tony is looking a little bit sceptical. But the hand on his leg squeezes slightly, thumb sweeping across his skin, and it doesn’t feel like rejection. “As you wish.”

The words sound like they mean more, are more, than a simple affirmation, but he can’t think why. There is something he’s missing, something he’s always missing, and it just makes the anger burn a little harder. There are years missing and nothing will ever bring them back or make up for their loss.

The hand on the back of his leg is gone; the shock of cold skin left behind makes him aware of the absence. For a moment he feels a spark of panic that Tony isn’t there anymore, that he’s disappeared like so much else in Steve’s life, but he can still hear him. Hear each steady breath, the wet slick sound of lube being squeezed out of a bottle, and he knows that Tony is there and forces himself not to turn around to see him.

A hand touches his leg again, guides them apart a fraction more, before it slides up the back of his thigh. A finger, slick and questing, traces a line along his arse, resting, a pause, before slowly pressing in. He presses his face into the pillow and forgets to breathe because he wants and wants and wants and he doesn’t want to.

“Steve, darling?” Tony’s finger isn’t moving, just resting pressed inside him, hot and slick and too much, not nearly enough.

“Keep going.” He hears himself growl, desperate and a little bit animalistic, the words caught against the pillow but still obviously loud enough for Tony to hear.

A hand rubs at his back, fingers and thumb tracing his spine and it feels like Tony’s caressing his very bones. It feels comforting and he doesn’t dare let himself think that Tony might care.

He’s just an attentive lover.

“Relax, darling. Breathe, and you have yourself a deal.” Tony’s words are soft against his skin, a scratch of facial hair and lips to the left of his spine.

He breathes, in spite himself, lungs expanding and collapsing and something inside him lets go, unclenches and he can feel Tony’s finger moving inside him, pressing smooth and gently against him. In him. It feels too much like caring, and it just makes the anger inside his chest bite harder, because he doesn’t want to want this. Doesn’t want to want Tony.

“I’m not going to break, Stark.” The words snap out, blade sharp and lethal intent. He turns his head away from the pillow, glares over his shoulder and can only see the top of Tony’s head where it’s dipped low against his back. It takes too long to recognise the frequent press of lips against the curve of his side.

Tony shifts, sitting back, all lean wiry muscle that makes him want all over again. He meets his eye and there’s something too soft about the look in his eyes, too soft and too beautiful that it is a complete juxtaposition to the fact he’s knuckle deep inside him. Tony’s hand sweeps down his back again, caressing bone and sinew and peeling him open and leaving him bare.

“Doesn’t mean I have to test that.” Head tilts to the side, hair falling across his forehead and for the first time all evening, maybe ever, Tony looks uncertain. He watches, watches and watches until Steve feels like he’s going to crawl right out of his skin if he doesn’t break eye contact.

“Unless you want me to, darling?”

He has to look away then. Can’t stand the expression in Tony’s eyes, a mixture of hunger and uncertainty and pure want. Has to look away because he can’t risk Tony seeing the mirroring expression in his eyes. He wants, wants and wants. Needs. He thinks he could beg Tony to. To break him, destroy him like he’d said.

He thinks maybe Tony wants him to beg.

He’s not sure how he feels about that.

“Hey, gorgeous,” The hand on his back is gone, then touches him again, the back of his head, fingers stroking through his hair. Slipping to touch his jaw, turning his face back away from the pillow.

He feels Tony lean forward again, the warmth of his skin against his back, Lips against his ear, cheekbone, jaw, mouth, soft and slow, careful even as the finger inside him starts moving again. Gentle. Slow. Infuriating. If he didn’t feel half-drunk off of the warm press of Tony against him and each slow kiss he thinks he would protest.

“Steve, sweetheart,” Tony’s lips whisper against the corner of his mouth, all warm breath and soft tone. “You can ask for anything you want. Anything. But I’m not going to make you do something you don’t want. I don’t want to do anything you don’t like. If I do anything you don’t like, don’t love, then you need to tell me. So we can stop. You just need to talk to me.”

He isn’t good at talking, not about how he feels or what he wants, it is easier to say nothing and hope that people just get it. He doesn’t know if he can talk about this, can tell Tony what he wants. He can’t tell Tony that he wants him. That he doesn’t want to.

“I want this. I—” It’s a start, words feeling hard and solid in his throat, but Tony is still right there, not moving away, lips and facial hair against the side of his face. “I like this.”

For a moment he thinks that Tony is going to ask for clarification on what this is, but there is some small mercy in the world that keeps him silent. The weight and warmth shifts off of his back, Tony’s hand against the bed pushing him back up again and he doesn’t whimper at the loss. He doesn’t.

A hand settles on his hip. It feels like reassurance. Careful touch and the slow movement of the finger inside him and he wants to tell Tony to hurry up but he doesn’t trust his own words anymore.

Both of Tony’s hands disappear, skin left cold, feeling too empty and open and he pushes his face into the pillow to cover up the sound of his inhale.

“You okay, darling?”

He nods, face hot against the pillow. It’s enough to get Tony’s hands back again, a touch on his hip, teasing touches before a slicker, cooler, thicker push back inside him. It knocks the air out of his throat, heavy with pleasure. It makes him feel hot all over, his cock twitching were its pressed between his body and the sheets, hard and hot and wanting. Tony’s fingers inside him feel almost like too much, not nearly enough, stretching and slick. Calloused fingertips but so careful and caring, each movement in time with whatever the man is saying, it’s impossible to focus on the words. His tone is soft, low, melting into his body and making him relax muscles that he didn’t even know were still tense.

The hand on his hip slides up his side, smooths along the curve of his ribs before the thumb slots along his spine. Presses him back down, encouraging him to settle back against the sheets. Belatedly Steve realises that he had been pushing himself up, pushing back on to Tony’s fingers, searching for more.

“Easy, darling, you just relax and let me take care of you.”

He doesn’t need taking care of. He thinks it, should say it, but the words are lost somewhere in the sound of his uneven breathing. He doesn’t need taking care of. Tony does. He looks after Tony. Has. Will again. Even if he doesn’t want to think about Tony being sick. He should be taking care of Tony. But this is what he wants. This is what he asked for.

I asked for it. He asked when he shouldn’t have. He went willingly to Tony’s bed even though he’d told himself over and over that he never would. He can’t explain why he did, where his resolve went. I wanted this, wanted it until I couldn’t stand not to have it anymore.

He shouldn’t want this. Shouldn’t have given in. Shouldn’t want Tony to touch him, kiss him. Fuck him. Destroy him. Pull him apart at the seams until there was nothing left.

But he does.

“‘m not useless, Stark.” It is a protest, weak, but it feels necessary.

There’s a laugh, something like a breathless chuckle, and then the touch of Tony’s lips against his spine. A touch that is becoming unsettlingly familiar. “I never said you were, darling, but you asked me for something. And never let it be said that I don’t deliver.”

It hurts more than it should, to know that Tony is only doing this because he had asked. To think that Tony wouldn’t want him if he hadn’t propositioned him.

“Sweetheart?”

Tony sounds worried, suddenly, carefully, still; fingers, hands, lips, nothing moving expect the breath against his back, and he knows it’s because his whole body has tensed up. Shoulders rigid, neck stiff and face pressing so hard into the pillow he’s not even sure he’s breathing anymore. Trying to squash the shame back down. He doesn’t want to want Tony, so why should he care if Tony doesn’t want him in return?

“I’ve said something wrong, haven’t I? Whatever you’re thinking, Steve, please stop. You are gorgeous. If you think I’m not interested, I promise you I am. Very much so.” Tony’s hand slides across his back, down his side, pushes between the bed and his chest. He can feel Tony’s weight against his back, the arm around his front. It feels safe enough that he lets himself breathe again, lets his body relax. Tony’s hugging him, holding him, and that doesn’t seem like the sort of thing he’d do for someone who didn’t mean something to him.

“I’m glad you’re here, Steve. But only if you are too.”

He blames the hint of uncertainty in Tony’s voice for the answer he gives. But he knows the fact that Tony is hugging him is the real cause for what he says. He turns his head, enough that he can see Tony, taking in the softness and concern in his eyes. “I want you.”

He wants to take the words back, even if they are the truth. He never meant to say them. But Tony’s eyes grow warm and he’s smiling and Steve doesn’t want to take that away.

Tony’s smile grows, and he moves closer, kisses his shoulder, thumb rubbing against the skin of his chest. “I want you too, darling.”

He huffs, tries not to smile is response. Shifts his hips, enough to feel Tony’s fingers shift inside him, and the hard line of his cock against the back of his thigh. His body feels warm all over, borrowing Tony’s warmth and he thinks that he’ll forget what it was like ever to be cold. He doesn’t want to be cold ever again. The words whisper out, before he can stop them. “Like this.”

Another kiss on his shoulder and the arm around his chest tightens before it starts to slide away, Tony’s heat and weight lifting away from him. “It’s okay, darling, just let me make this good for you. Let me make you feel good.”

He misses the feeling of Tony against his back, mourns it, wants to protest. He doesn’t, bites his lip so he won’t. It doesn’t stop the groan that works its way out of his throat. Tony’s fingers dragging out of him, the way he smooths his hand down his back, it makes his whole body shudder. He can’t help, can’t stop the reaction. He knows he’s breathing too hard, gasping wetly against the pillow, can’t catch his breath. He feels hot and cold at the same time, slick and open, empty, he doesn’t want to think about how he must look.

Tony’s fingers press back into him, thicker, wider, slicker. Stretching him, opening him up and it just makes him want, want, want and want more. It’s almost too much. Not enough. He needs more. Doesn’t know if he can handle more, but doesn’t want to stop. Then it’s something else, Tony’s fingers pressing, sparking lightning hot want and pleasure. It catches him off guard, his throat vapour locks, clicks and he can’t swallow, can’t breathe, can’t do anything but feel.

“You truly are gorgeous.” Tony’s murmuring words behind him, voice soft and pleased and sounding miles away. “You respond so well. So sensitive, darling. I want to keep you here forever, see just how sensitive you are.”

Forever. He tries to ignore the ache in his chest. Tries not to think about how nice it would be, to stay with Tony, for him to mean it. But they don’t get to have nice. They don’t get forever. Not him, not any of the Ultimates. Especially not Tony. “You talk too much, Stark. Too much talk and not enough action.”

He’s not sure where the words came from, how he found the energy or the brain power to say them. They get a reaction though. Tony’s hand pressing down against his back, fingers pushing into him again, harder, less careful, aimed for that spot, but so, so good.

“Clearly I’m neglecting my duties if you still have the capacity to talk, Captain. But I would have been disappointed if you weren’t as sassy in bed as you are out of it.” There’s a smile in Tony’s voice, he imagines he looks pleased with himself. Irritating as the idea is, he isn’t in a position to argue.

He doesn’t say anything. It doesn’t seem like there is anything to say that hasn’t been said already, so he pushes back. Pushes back against the hand along his spine, against the fingers inside him. There’s a somewhat strangled sound of pleasure and with belated embarrassment he realises that it came from him.

“Now darling, I think you’re just being deliberately impatient.” It’s a purr, soft and low, a sucker punch of desire in the pit of his stomach. Tony’s hand stroking down to his lower back, thumb digging into the hollow of his spine and he can’t help the sound that tumbles out of his throat, a desperate, needy whine.

He feels hot with shame, tries to bury his face further against the pillow. But Tony keeps pressing his thumb into that place, the fingers inside him moving quicker and harder and the pleasure keeps sparking higher and higher. He’s not sure when he started rocking between pressing back onto those fingers and rutting against the sheets, movement restricted by Tony’s weight against the back of one thigh. He can’t stop, it doesn’t matter how embarrassing it is. He’s so close, coiling heat in his stomach, balls drawing tight, everything growing tense. He has to turn his head to the side because he can’t breathe.

“It’s okay, darling, let go.” Tony’s talking, sounds a million miles away but so close, too close. “Will you come for me?”

He does.

He can’t not. Can’t stop himself, it’s too much. Tony’s voice in his ear, hand on his back, fingers inside him, they punch the orgasm out of him. He comes, rutting against Tony’s silk sheets and for a moment he can’t even feel ashamed.

Everything feels hazy in the aftermath, light. He knows Tony is there, can hear his voice but not the words he’s saying. Hands on his shoulder and hip encourage him to roll onto his side; he goes, willingly, things slowly coming back into focus. Tony’s at his back, shifting him across the bed, away from the damp stained sheets.

The embarrassment creeps in then, making his face hot, stomach clench in an unpleasant way, and he’s apologising before he can even think too much about it. “‘m sorry.”

The hand on his shoulder rubs down his arm and tightens comfortingly around his bicep. “No, darling, don’t apologise. You were gorgeous. Are gorgeous. It was lovely, seeing you let go like that.”

He blinks his eyes open, lets them adjust to the low light of the room. Tony is leaning over enough that he can see him without having to turn his head, a soft smile playing on his lips, eyes alight and there’s colour in his cheeks. He really is beautiful, there is no denying that.

And he hasn’t stopped wanting him. It’s still there, burning inside him, wanting, wanting, wanting, but the anger is biting back a little less viciously. He tries to breathe around the feeling, through it, the knowledge that what they’ve done so far hasn’t made the want quiet down or go away. He should leave, leave before he does something to make it worse, but Tony actually looks happy, genuinely happy, and the hands on his hip and arm keep rubbing softly against his skin. Warm, careful, callouses scraping ever so slightly, making the want itch and prickle beneath his skin, sparking arousal. He feels his cock twitch, still half hard, and knows that it won’t take much.

“How do you feel, darling?” Tony sounds slightly hesitant, his hand moving away from his bicep to trail through Steve’s hair softly. “Do you feel okay? Was that good for you, sweetheart?”

“Was good, really good. Thank you.” It seems polite, to thank Tony, he has just come all over the man’s sheets, after all. 

“You’re welcome, darling.” The smile turns amused, but the fingers in his hair don’t stop. “Do you want to keep going, or have you had enough?”

He narrows his eyes, tries to ignore the thought that maybe Tony doesn’t want him anymore, wants him to leave, breathes a little harder to make the feeling go away. “Didn’t come here for just your fingers, Stark. Besides, s’posed to be a two way street, I’m not the sort of guy who just gets off and leaves his partner wanting.”

He gets a smirk in response as Tony shifts on the bed, arms bracketing him front and back and chest pressing against his shoulder blade. “Such a charmer, Captain. With words like that how does anyone ever resist you?”

Despite what Tony says, he can feel the hard line of his erection against his thigh, and it doesn’t really matter what Tony is saying, because it feels like he still wants him. “You couldn’t.”

“No, I couldn’t.” Tony agrees, leaning harder against his shoulder, head dipping down and his lips touching the side of his mouth. “You truly are delightful, Steve Rogers.”

“Not bad yourself, Stark.” He turns his head enough to kiss Tony, kiss him back, because it’s okay as long as Tony starts it. Loses himself in kissing Tony, because Tony kisses so, so well, lips, tongue, the occasional scrape of teeth. Excitement rolls through him, arousal building on top of what hadn’t really been sated before. He’s hard again, it’s a little embarrassing, feels a little greedy, but Tony’s hand shifts from the bed to trace patterns on his chest, stomach, the point of his hip, creeping lower and closer until his fingers curl around him, light and teasing.

Tony draws back, enough that their lips aren’t touching anymore, but not far at all. They’re breathing each other’s air, it’s intoxicating. He wishes it wasn’t, wishes that it didn’t make him crave Tony even more, want to kiss him again, want everything that he was willing to give him. But he keeps breathing, dragging air that tastes like Tony into his lungs and trying to hold it as long as possible.

“Are you comfortable, darling?” Tony’s question makes him open his eyes again, and he sees Tony’s face too close and lips kiss red. “Do you want to move?”

He doesn’t say it, doesn’t want to move. He wants Tony how he was before, one arm around his chest and his weight against his back. Wants Tony pressing him to the bed and keeping him there, pinning him down and taking what he wants. He wants that but he can’t say that. Can’t admit that. “I’m good.”

He settles back on his front, readjusts his arms beneath the pillow. To make a point. Tony’s hand leaves his cock, settles on the back of his thigh, and pushes his leg out and up, until his knee is pressing into the bed, taking more weight and cocking his hips so one is off of the bed. He feels open and exposed like this, shivers from it, but it is what he wants, what he asked for.

Tony’s hand trails up the back of his leg, across his arse, one fingertip teasing the rim of his hole. Still slick, still open. He draws in a breath, too quick, feels it shudder in his chest. The mattress shifts as Tony moves, not much, his other hand returning to the small of Steve’s back, thumb pressing into the groove of his spine and he can’t stop the full body shudder or the desperate sort of sound that escapes his throat.

He feels Tony’s lips next to his thumb, a gentle kiss counterpoint to the strength of his hand. “You like that, don’t you? This spot right here. Who would have known it could be so sensitive.”

He pushes his face against the pillow to try and counteract the blush, but it has long since soaked up his body heat. “Still talking too much, Stark.” He mumbles into the fabric, sounding fonder than he intends to.

He can feel Tony’s lips smile against his back, pressing another kiss, the slightest touch of his tongue. “It’s one of my charms, darling.”

He doesn’t argue. Even for all the times that he’s wished Tony would shut up, there have been a lot of times when he wished he’d talk more. The sound of his voice is intoxicating, the terms of endearment, the clever things he says, they’ve never done anything but make him want Tony all the more.

He exhales loudly when Tony’s hands and lips slip away, tries to ignore the cold that is left behind. There’s the snick and flip sound of the bottle being opened, the squelch of lube being poured out and then Tony’s fingers are pressing back into him, cool and wet, applying more slick, keeping him open.

“Steve, darling?” Tony sounds cautious enough that he draws his face away from the pillow, strains his neck to look at him. There’s a small smile dancing across Tony’s lips, his eyes impossibly warm. “Give me your hand?”

He draws his hand out from under the pillow, brings his elbow down until his hand is level with his shoulder and Tony reaches to close his hand over the back of it, wrapping his fingers around to press against his palm. He relaxes back into the pillow, hooks his fingers around Tony’s to hold them there, distracted for a moment in the difference of their skin tone.

Tony’s fingers slip back out of him and he feels him move again, until he’s pressed against him, leg against his, hips holding him down, the warmth of his chest not quite touching his back, holding himself up just slightly.

Tony kisses the back of his shoulder, the back of his neck, nuzzles his nose into his hair, breath warm against his skin. “If anything is wrong, Steve, if you don’t like this, if it hurts or is too uncomfortable, or of you just don’t like it, all you need to do say so, and we’ll stop.” He presses his fingers against his palm, comforting.

He nods in response, strokes his thumb against Tony’s fingers, an offer of reassurance he can’t find words for. He can feel Tony, everywhere, feel Tony pushing into him. Hotter, thicker, more than his fingers had been. The insistent push and slide, stretch, not painful, but nearly too much. Not enough. He can’t breathe, has forgotten how, trying desperately not to tense up, not to crush Tony’s hand, not to make a noise that could be interpreted to be bad because he doesn’t want to stop.

Tony stops moving, body trembling with the effort of it, words whispering against the back of his neck that are nothing more than sounds. He wants him to keep going, a whine sliding out of his throat in protest, and he inhales, needs to air to talk. Breathing makes him feel a little dizzy, gasping, wet against the pillow, but something lets go in him, tension slipping away and his body relaxes. Lets Tony keep pushing inside him, so warm, solid, the weight of him against his back and it feels so, so good. Too good. Nearly overwhelming. He doesn’t want it to stop.

“Talk to me, darling. Are you okay?” Tony’s words, concern, settle into his mind, the world starting to pull back into focus.

“‘m good. Feels—” He swallows, feels his body trembling ever so slightly, tries to relax a little more, to think of a way to describe how he feels and comes up short. “Good. Feels really good.”

Tony’s lips smirk against the back of his neck, pressing harder to kiss him there. He shifts his hips, marginally, barely, but it sparks pleasure through Steve’s body, makes him moan. Tony makes a sound, it’s smug, pleased, and he can’t be embarrassed by the noises he’s making.  He thinks, hopes, that Tony feels good too, worries that maybe he doesn’t.

“You feel wonderful, darling.” Tony whispers, like he knows what he’s thinking. He squeezes his hand tight for a moment before letting go, drawing his hand away, too quick for Steve to try and catch it. There isn’t time to protest though, Tony’s arm is sliding beneath his chest, his weight settling against his back. Holding him, pinning him down, and it’s everything he wants.

It seems like forever that they stay like that, Tony leaning against his back, hand over his heart, and Steve’s sure that he must be able to feel how erratically it is beating. Everything feels off kilter, confusing, he isn’t sure if he feels vulnerable or safe, there is too much conflict. He tries breathing, focusing on the warmth Tony’s sharing with him, the feel of Tony’s lips against the back of his neck, trailing across his shoulder. He focuses on Tony, he wants Tony. Still. Wants him so, so much and he’s right there, behind him, in him and now that he has what he wants he doesn’t know how to cope.

Tony shifts, ever so slightly, hips shifting back, drawing out, not far, but he can feel the heat and drag. He pauses, thumb and fingers rubbing against his chest, comforting. The push back in is slow, sensual, feels like it lasts forever and he’s gasping out small noises by the time Tony stills again. Lips press behind his ear, breath panting against his skin, and it feels better to know that he isn’t the only one affected.

“You’re so good, darling,” Words whisper against his hair, lips and nose nuzzling, affectionate, tactile, and he wants it like that. “How are you feeling?”

His throat clicks, he can’t get any words to work, swallows, but it doesn’t help unjumble the thoughts inside his head, the want that isn’t abating at all. He can’t talk, so he moves his arm, tucks it beneath his chest, ignores how uncomfortable it is. Closes his hand over the back of Tony’s. Holds it to his chest, presses it there, slotting his fingers between Tony’s. Wants to keep him there as long as possible. Wants him to know that.

It must convey the right message. He feels Tony press another kiss to the back of his neck, hears the sound of his voice as he whispers something, sweet and comforting, but he can’t keep track. Tony starts moving again, hips thrust with more force than before, but still slow, careful. Each drag out, each push back in, it catches the breath in his lungs, a slender edge of something not quite pain. It feels like too much, not enough, like he needs more. He feels hot and slick, open, filled, and he can’t help the noises he’s trying to muffle against the pillow.

Tony’s breath, lips and words are hot against his skin, the arm around his chest tight, holding him close, holding him there. He loses track of how much time passes, of everything, the world has reduced just down to him and Tony and Tony’s silk sheets. Everything feels like it is too much, the rhythm that Tony sets, slow, steady, caring and careful. It isn’t what he expected, he isn’t sure what he expected, but this isn’t fucking.

He isn’t sure that he wants to put a name to it.

“You’re so sweet, darling.” Tony whispers against his neck, lips dragging across his skin and he isn’t even sure he’s supposed to hear it. “So perfect.”

He’s not sure how to respond, not sure he’s meant to. It feels like there is more he should be doing, so he rocks back, braces himself with his free arm and knees and pushes back against Tony. Rocks into his thrust. Tony’s moan reverberates through his spine, hot against the back of his neck, and there’s a jolt of satisfaction, knowing that he is responsible for that. He does it again, rocks back, pushes into Tony’s next thrust, clenches down as he does and he feels Tony jerk, shudder, the hand against his chest presses tighter.

“Oh, darling,” Tony’s voice is hot between his shoulder blades, touching his spine. His words are loose, sloppy around the edges, and he isn’t sure if he’s proud that it’s his doing, or disbelieving that Tony can still talk. “You feel amazing, so tight, so good for me. Keep doing that, darling.”

He does. Because Tony asked. Because he doesn’t know what else to do. Because it feels good to be doing something, not to just be lying there like a hunk of meat and doing nothing. He keeps rocking back, pushing back, until his muscles ache from it, until he isn’t sure whose body is trembling anymore, until everything feels too hot, too slick, too tight and he’s panting into the pillow.

His cock feels too sensitive, raw, rubbing against the sheets, but it isn’t enough to stop him, doesn’t stop him from pushing back to meet Tony’s thrusts, each movement ratcheting up his arousal. It’s nearly unbearable, nearly too much, his balls drawn tight, breath catching in his lungs. It catches him by surprise; he’s coming into Tony’s sheets for a second time and he isn’t prepared for it, can’t breathe, can’t stop the noises he’s making, can’t stop the way his body just keeps shuddering with it.

He’s vaguely aware that Tony is murmuring things against his back, something calming. The arm around his chest holds him tight. Holds him through it, until he can breathe again. Until he falls still and realises that Tony has stopped moving at some point.

“Perfect, darling, so perfect, so beautiful.” Tony is kissing the back of his neck, his voice soothing. “Can I keep going, Steve? Do you feel alright for me to keep going?”

He wants that, wants Tony to keep going, to get his own pleasure. To use him until he reaches his own climax and is satisfied. He feels open and loose, wrung out, listless, but not so much he wants to stop. He nods, squeezes the hand against his heart, works his tongue and throat until there are words available. “Please. I want you to.”

He feels Tony start to move again, slowly, gently, the hand on his chest holding him tight and his breath hot and loud against his neck. He can’t push back into the slow thrusts anymore, can’t find the energy, feels too relaxed and boneless. But he clenches down, like he did before, feels Tony shudder against him, his breath hitch, and it feels like he’s doing something right. He keeps doing it, with each slide out and push back in, his own cock jerking and pulsing occasionally, hopeful, trying to get hard again but he really doesn’t think he has it in him. Tony’s hand scrabbles against his chest, calloused fingertips scraping over his heart and his hips jerk a bit harder, each thrust a bit more powerful than the last, until Tony stops breathing, pushing into him as hard as he can.

He can hear him gasping, small cries of pleasure muffled against his back, feel him pushing inside him, coming and coming, the full weight of his body collapsing against this back, pinning him to the bed. Pressing him into the damp spot he created on the sheets and holding him there so he can’t do anything but let Tony come inside him, shuddering and hips twitching until he eventually stills, chest heaving and breath damp against his spine.

The arm around him loosens, but doesn’t let go, thumb and fingers stroking soothing circles into his skin. They stay like that, seconds, minutes, hours, he doesn’t know. Even with Tony’s weight against him, everything feels soft, floaty, far away. He hears Tony’s breathing even out, feels his own heart slow back to normal. Tony’s lips keep pressing softly against his spine, and for the first time he wishes he was facing the other way so he could kiss him back, while they are both relaxed and boneless, while the real world is so far away and nothing really matters.

It doesn’t last.

It was never going to.

Tony moves, not away from him, but to roll them both to the side, until he isn’t lying in his own come, but he can still feel Tony inside him, still so full, almost too full. Then he can feel Tony pulling out of him, drawing away, sweat cooling too rapidly on his back, making him shiver. He’s too aware that he’s responsible for the noise, sudden and a little too high, a whine of loss, when Tony shifts across the bed, away from him. He lets himself be rolled over onto his back, feels loose and empty, too open, feels Tony’s semen leak out of him, slick and hot between his arse cheeks.

Tony’s hand is still on his chest, probably only because he’s holding it there, hasn’t let go yet, doesn’t want to. He should, knows it, feels it, but he doesn’t want to. Just like he doesn’t want to open his eyes, to face the fact that this is very real and very over. He went to bed with Tony Stark and it doesn’t matter which way he looks at it, it was always going to be a bad idea. It just took until it was over for his to really think about it. Because this is what Tony does, he sleeps with people and doesn’t mind when they leave, or when he leaves. Casual. Over. And he’s not sure that he’s going to be okay with that. It doesn’t feel like he got anything out of his system, because he wants Tony. Still. Again.

But the hand on his chest, above his heart, is still there, thumb rubbing against his skin, and he can feel Tony’s breath, hot against his shoulder. He’s not pulling away. Not kicking him out of bed.

He feels Tony settle closer beside him, chest against his arm, knee touching his thigh, toes against his calf, his other hand in his hair. Close, present, and it’s enough that he cracks open one eye, just enough to see Tony through the haze of his lashes. Tony’s smiling, softly, not the sort of smile that is ever there when other people are watching. He dips his head, presses lips to his shoulder. It’s not really a kiss, just a touch, and he doesn’t pull away before he talks.

“How are you, darling?”

He doesn’t answer, not right away, flexes his fingers against Tony’s hand, but doesn’t let go. He lets his eye close again, shifts a little bit so he’s facing Tony a fraction. More semen trickles out of him, a sensation that is weird and a marginally unsettling. He clamps his thighs together, slick and hot and a little tender, tries to hold it in. It feels stupidly sentimental, irrational to want to keep Tony’s come inside him, but he doesn’t relax.

Tony’s lips press against his collar bone, fingernails scrape lightly against his scalp and he knows that he hasn’t answered yet. Isn’t really sure how to answer. He still feels a little soft and fuzzy around the edges, still a little floaty, and he thinks two orgasms so close together has made him stupid.

He opens his eyes, watches Tony in the low light, the creases by his eyes and the faint smile on his lips, something far too affectionate in his gaze. “I’m good.” He’s not sure what else to say, and it’s not a lie, he does feel good. Hasn’t felt this good on a long time. He’s just waiting for the moment when reality catches up with them both and Tony starts to want him to leave. “You?”

Tony leans closer, kisses his lips, soft and chaste, the hint of a smile. “I’m good. Do you feel okay? Not sore at all?”

He shakes his head, lets his eyes close again. He still feels boneless, relaxed, like he could fall asleep if he let himself. It is warm in Tony’s room, the bed too comfortable, and Tony is still right there, warm and solid and he thinks it would be so easy just to reach out and wrap an arm around him, keep him there. “I’m fine, Tony,” He whispers it, against Tony’s lips, because he hasn’t moved far, lets his lips linger enough, something that could be a kiss if he let it. “I feel good. Thank you.”

The hand in his hair stills for a moment, and he thinks he might have said the wrong thing. Tony kisses him, a bit harder, a bit longer, then starts the draw away from him. “You’re very welcome, darling, it was my pleasure.” There’s silence for a moment. Tony’s hand is still against his chest, but the rest of him is too far away to feel. “Do you want a shower?”

He doesn’t want to leave Tony’s bed. The illusion will shatter when he does, the illusion that he could belong here, if Tony let him stay, that it could be more than just one night, if he let himself ask for more. He doesn’t ask, but he does shake his head, tightens his grip on Tony’s hand without even meaning to.

There is the sweep of a thumb against his chest, and then the slight tug of Tony trying to extract his hand. “Let me get us cleaned up then. Don’t want you getting uncomfortable.”

He lets go, because there is no excuse to keep holding Tony there, opens his eyes as the bed shifts as Tony climbs off of it. He watches Tony, all gold skin and lithe muscle, cross the bedroom and disappears through a door. The light clicks on inside the room, illuminating a bathroom and spilling out into the bedroom. He hears water running, tries to find the energy to move, but he’s still lying there on the bed when Tony steps back through the door. He leaves the light on, silhouetted against it as he walks back to the bed.

The cloth is soft, warm and damp when it touches his chest, drags down his stomach. He lets Tony wipe him down, tries to ignore how fond his expression is, until his free hand touches Steve’s legs, fingers tracing the line where his thighs are pressed together, pushing gently against his left leg, encouraging them to spread. He feels suddenly vulnerable, suddenly cold, something heavy settling in his stomach and he can’t bear the idea of Tony taking care of him and acting like he actually matters. He takes the cloth from Tony’s hand, rough enough that Tony jerks back a fraction, fond expression suddenly concerned. He looks away, closes his eyes, doesn’t want to see the edge of hurt in Tony’s unguarded gaze, and wipes himself down. Cleans between his own thighs, catching the cloth against sensitive skin, grits his teeth against how tender he feels and wipes away the lube and traces of Tony left behind.

“Steve?” There is a tentative touch to his knee, fingertips barely brushing his skin and he looks at Tony, opens his eyes and sees the uncertainty and concern.

He holds the cloth limply in one hand, doesn’t want to just put it on the bed, despite the mess he’s already made of the sheets. He wonders briefly if he should offer to change the bed for Tony, to clean up his mess, but Tony is taking the cloth out of his hand, wiping himself clean with it, all without breaking eye contact. He looks away, doesn’t know what to do with the way Tony is looking at him, the sudden cold that has taken over his body again, or the itchy feeling beneath his skin that is telling him he should leave. Leave before Tony asks him to go. It’s going to happen. He’ll overstay his welcome and Tony will want him to leave, because this was always just going to be sex. A once off thing. Tony doesn’t want him. Not the same way he wants Tony. The same way he stills wants him.

He feels Tony’s hand settle more firmly on his knee, then the tickly brush of facial hair and the chapped feel of his lips, pressing against the top of his knee. It’s ridiculous, kissing his knee; it’s not a move that makes sense. It’s enough to make him look at Tony again, the curve of his shoulders and neck, the way he’s leaning over, all grace and beauty.

“Is there—” Tony stops, looking up at him through his lashes, resting his chin against his knee. “Steve, darling, would you tell me if something was wrong?”

It’s an odd question, feels weird, dangerously close to being deep and meaningful, and he doesn’t know how to handle it. He sits up, swings his legs off the side of the bed, leans forward to rest his elbows on his knees. It’s callous, to just dislodge Tony the way he did, but it makes him feel less vulnerable. There’s the faint trace of fingers against his spine, thumb brushing over that spot again. It makes his breath catch in his chest. But it isn’t enough to distract him from the question that Tony asked.

He still doesn’t know how to answer. It scares him that he might actually want to be honest with Tony, might want to tell him that he still wants him. Wants more. Doesn’t want to leave. But he can’t have those things, he can’t want Tony. Doesn’t want to want him.

The bed shifts, the hand against his back presses harder for a moment before it disappears. There’s the quick brush of lips against his shoulder and Tony slides off the bed and walks back to the bathroom. He half expects some sort of scathing comment about his silence, for Tony to press the matter, but he’s relieved that he doesn’t.

He hears the water running again, takes the chance to reach for the clothes he discarded earlier. He’s wearing briefs and is part way through pulling his undershirt on over his head when he hears the water stop and the bathroom light click off. He pulls the shirt down, drags it over his chest until he’s covered and feeling less exposed than he has all night.

Tony stands leaning against the bathroom doorframe, head resting against the wood, one arm over his chest, hand on the opposite shoulder. He’s wearing his red robe; sash tied loosely around his waist, like an afterthought, and the expression on his face is unreadable.

“Are you leaving?”

He doesn’t answer, looks back at the clothes on the bed, but doesn’t reach for another item. The silence drags out long enough that he finds himself listening to Tony’s breathing, matching his own to it, and he makes himself talk just to avoid thinking about it. “I should, shouldn’t I?”

He hears a soft sigh, probably isn’t meant to hear it, and looks back at Tony. He hasn’t moved, but he looks tired. So, so tired, more worn out than he should. There’s a stab of guilt, because he shouldn’t have asked Tony for the night when it is so clear the man needs sleep. He should have left him alone.

But he hadn’t.

He had rocked up on Tony’s doorstep and asked to be fucked and is left struggling to know how to act in the aftermath.

Tony squints at him, the arm over his chest tightening, and then he looks away from Steve, down to his clothes, to the bedroom door and then slowly back up to his face. “You don’t have to go.”

His chest feels warm, can feel it spreading into his cheeks, and he can’t breathe past the tightness in his throat. It isn’t an offer to stay. Not really. It isn’t Tony asking him to stay, wanting him to stay.

But he isn’t telling him to leave either.

Even if he stays the night it doesn’t mean anything.

His fingers clench around the bottom of his shirt, tug at the fabric and he wishes he could think of something clever and confident to say. Something that won’t show how uncertain he is about the whole situation. He feels his jaw wobble, clenches his teeth tight and looks away from Tony again. “I don’t want to be a bother.”

Footsteps cross the room, soft, slow, and then Tony’s hand is on the side of his face, turns him back around until they are facing one another again. He looks even more tired this close, but his eyes are bright despite the dark smudges beneath them. Tony smiles, most of it in his eyes, too warm, too affectionate, but Steve can’t make himself turn away again. He relaxes the grip on his shirt, lets one hand reach up and close around Tony’s wrist. Holds the hand against his face, thumb stroking over the fluttery pulse on the inside of Tony’s wrist.

Tony smiles a little wider, he looks pleased, like he thinks he might have won already. “You are never a bother, darling.” He leans closer, kisses the corner of his mouth with a smile. “You’re more than welcome to stay.”

He turns enough that he can kiss Tony in return, harder, and it’s meant to be an acceptance, acknowledgement of the offer. It isn’t. It doesn’t replace words that he should say. It doesn’t excuse the words he does say. “Do you want me to stay, or is this some sort of modern hospitality that dictates you can’t kick out one night stands?”

Tony draws back, frowning, the smile gone from his eyes, but his hand only drops as far as Steve’s shoulder and he doesn’t step back. The frown shifts into something more searching. “Is that what this is, Captain?”

The title sounds wrong, even with Tony’s carefully casual tone. The tone of a man who doesn’t want to hurt or be hurt and is trying not to judge.

He swallows, feels like he’s balancing precariously on the edge, not sure which way he wants to fall. Which way he can fall. He wants to pull away, put more space between them. Wants to be able to look anywhere but back at Tony’s level gaze, except he can’t make himself look away. “Isn’t it?”

There’s something fragile about the words, his own voice, and it sparks more anger in his chest, where he thought it had burnt out. Makes him step back, hold Tony’s hand away from his shoulder before letting it drop. Tony reaches for him again, and for one terrifying wanting moment he thinks that Tony might hug him. He wants him to. He wishes he did. Wishes he hadn’t stepped away.

Wishes he was strong enough to just go after what he wants.

But he isn’t.

He wants Tony and can barely even admit it to himself. Because Tony is Tony. He’s more than just a team mate, he isn’t just another man, he’s brilliant and flawed, and it’s never enough to make him stop wanting.

Tony’s body shifts. There’s a tension about it, and even in only a robe he’s every bit the business man he is in a suit. He’s not looking at him so fondly anymore, there’s something guarded about his expression and he thinks, maybe, he’s pushed too hard and Tony isn’t just going to come back to try again.

“If that is all this was to you, if all you wanted was one night, then, by all means, darling, leave whenever you want.” Tony stops talking, squints at him again, trying to gauge his reaction, then he relaxes a bit, his expression more open, even a fraction hopeful. “But, it doesn’t have to be. This can be whatever you want it to be, Steve.”

Whatever he wants. It sounds like a dangerous offer. He rubs his face and drags his hands back through his hair to try and get his expression and thoughts in check. He could just tell the truth, that he came there to try and get Tony out of his system and it hasn’t worked. He could tell the truth, about wanting Tony, wanting more, wanting whatever he is willing to give. But the words all stick in his throat and he can’t ignore the fact that Tony isn’t saying what he wants.

“What about you? What do you want?”

Tony smiles, self-deprecating, “Oh, you know me, darling, I’m easy.”

It hurts, hurts because Tony can’t see what he does, can’t see his own worth. He wants to make him see it, but he’s probably the worst person for the job. He can’t look at that smile any longer, the hurt behind it, so he turns away, towards the window and leans against the glass. It’s cold, saps the heat out of his body and he can’t help but remember how warm Tony made him feel. How he thought he might never be cold again. He doesn’t think he wants to just walk away from that.

“You shouldn’t be.” He’s not sure what he’s trying to say, maybe Tony isn’t either because he doesn’t get a reply. He talks against the glass, breath fogging the window, ignores how his jaw wobbles when he tries to speak. “I don’t know what this is, Tony. I don’t know what I want it to be. I don’t want it to end now. I want you. But I can’t.”

He can’t, because it’s Tony.

And Tony’s dying.  

He feels the air move, the prickle of body heat through his shirt as Tony steps closer. He thinks he almost feels Tony reach out to touch him, but he never makes contact. The silence stretches out until he can’t handle it anymore, until he turns and finds Tony standing there, angled slightly away from him and staring blankly out the window. He thinks Tony understands. 

He reaches out before he can stop himself, hand on the back of Tony’s head, fingers in his hair, so soft. He can feel the dips and contours of Tony’s skull. He can’t feel the tumour. It doesn’t change the fact that he knows it’s there. Knows that it’s just a time bomb waiting to go off.

Tony stills under his touch, body tense, then it seeps out of him, shoulders hunching slightly. Turning towards him, Tony lifts his gaze to meet his, eyes sad and knowing. He knows, Tony knows. They both know that the other knows, and he wishes he doesn’t.

Because all he can think, the only thought consuming all of his brain, the words he thinks he should say, but knows he won’t. You’re going to die. You’re going to die and leave me behind and I don’t know if I can bear to lose you too. You will destroy me. Because I can’t survive missing you.