"Fuck my life. Why me?" Tony asked.
“I would think that would be obvious. Your father was instrumental in creating him after all,” Fury said, watching him, although if he was expecting Tony to give something away, then he was going to be disappointed. Tony had plenty of practice not reacting when anyone mentioned his dad.
Of course, most of the time, people were commenting on how similar they were, or how completely dissimilar, or how Howard would be so disappointed, or proud, or impressed, or whatever else they could come up with to use against Tony. Bringing up Captain America was a new one though, he had to admit.
But then, Captain America had been buried in ice for the past seventy years, so.
And it wasn’t like it was common knowledge that he was back, otherwise Tony would’ve been getting all sorts of questions from the press, because yes, Tony was a Stark, but Steve Rogers had been Howard’s favored son.
It was that fact that Fury was counting on when he dangled Captain America like bait in front of him, even though he knew Tony liked his privacy and disliked attachments and had never accepted a long-term Sub. Howard Stark had spent years and millions of dollars searching for Captain America, attention and energy that he hadn’t ever focused in the same way on Tony, and Fury had to be thinking that there was no way he was going to walk away from that, from having the man his father had preferred over Tony down on his knees in front of him.
And if it happened to kill two birds with one stone, all the better. SHIELD had been trying to get their hooks into him for years—weapons designer extraordinaire (even if he’d said he’d left that behind him, there was always the possibility that they could convince him otherwise), technology genius, owner and operator of the one and only Iron Man—and if he accepted responsibility for Captain America, they’d have it. SHIELD had found the guy after all, and he was still technically in the Army, government property in other words, and there’d be check-ins and check-ups, and no Dom worth his salt would let his Sub go into those alone without at least being in the next room. They’d have Tony by the balls, and Fury knew it, the bastard. Assuming he agreed. Which, Tony totally wasn’t planning to do. No way. Nuh uh.
“Two, you’re aware of the history, and while you’re impulsive and arrogant and all too frequently a pain in my ass—”
“Wow, you sure know how to make a guy feel special.”
“—you can keep a secret. Three, you’re currently unbonded, and Rogers is going to need someone to help him through the adjustment period. Four—”
“That’s all well and good for you, but what’s in it for me?” he asked, like the answer wasn’t obvious. He’d watched the reels. No one could watch Captain America in action and not go a little gaga for him. Even without all the shared (but not really) history they had, Captain America was a prize all on his own.
“Besides helping your country and taking care of a hero who’s sacrificed—”
“Philanthropic, yes, but no one’s ever accused me of being compassionate, Fury. I give hundreds of millions of dollars every year to charities, including ones to support veterans coming back from war, and furthermore, guilt trips have never been known to work with me. Give me a reason I can get behind, because all I’m thinking about right now is how it’s a drain on my resources and time during one of the busiest months of the year for Stark Industries, how he and I haven’t even met and might not be compatible, how it sounds like a glorified baby-sitting job, and really? I think there are a lot of people out there who’d be better suited to this than me.”
Fury stared at him thoughtfully with his one good eye for a long time before nodding and saying, “Alright. Come with me.”
The first thought Tony had when he saw Captain America was that he wanted to climb him like a tree. The second was that it was a good thing Captain America’s ass wasn't any rounder, because otherwise, Tony would've had to get down on his knees and bite it. The third was that he was so fucking screwed.
“Captain Rogers,” Fury said as the entered the workout room, and Captain America glanced at them, not stopping his magnificent display of flexing and twisting muscles as he pounded a hanging bag until he noticed Fury had brought along company. Tony might have complained about the whole stopping thing, except then he was privileged to witness a sweating Captain America whose chest was heaving and whose nipples were straining against the thin, tight shirt he had on, and yeah, okay, he could deal with that. “I have someone I want you to meet.”
“Sir,” Captain America said to Fury. After a pause, he added, “Sir,” in Tony’s direction.
Tony’s eyebrows lifted slightly. People had a tendency to mistype Tony. He was on the short side of average, which didn’t mean anything since height had no bearing on being a Dom or a Sub, but Hollywood had messed people up enough that they assumed under six foot tall meant Sub. Also, he was sarcastic, but in a cheeky way rather than a domineering way, so once again, Sub. (If he had a dollar for every time a Dom had said they’d planned to beat the disrespect out of him, he’d be a . . . well, let’s just say he’d be even richer than he already was.) And he was talkative. And loud. And he smiled a lot. And was kind of handsy without even realizing it. And he pouted when he didn’t get his way. And he liked to wear stylish clothes when he was out. And got his hair and nails done and went in for massages. And maybe if it’d been just one or two things, it would’ve been fine, but when added up all together?
For the most part, he didn’t mind, because it never hurt to have people misjudge him, and he liked switching it up from time to time anyway, so it’d led to some rather . . . vigorous encounters that he still thought back on with a smile. And of course, he hadn’t minded proving his orientation to a few specific people afterwards, in a rather more private setting where they could make it up to him, but whatever. That was beside the point.
Tony liked getting his ego stroked just as much as the next guy, and if he had to be labeled, it was nice to be labeled the right way. But that hadn’t been what had gotten him to raise his eyebrows. It’d been the way Captain America had said the “sir” that had done it, grudging and unimpressed, and damn it, Tony had always had a thing for the mean ones. Pepper claimed it was because he had a masochistic streak a mile wide, but whatever. He was proud of his kinks. They made him the man he was.
“Captain Steve Rogers, I’d like you to meet Tony Stark. Tony is Howard Stark’s son.”
Steve’s mouth tightened—no, Captain America, Captain America, damn it. Steve was someone he’d consider taking home, but Captain America was an icon, a very non-geriatric icon even though he was like a gazillion years old and had pecs a man could bounce quarters off of, and shit, he was seriously considering this, wasn’t he?
Captain America’s mouth tightened, but all he said was an unenthusiastic, “Hello,” and damn it, why couldn’t he be perky? Tony could deal with perky.
“Hi,” Tony said, and if he were half as smart as he thought he was, he’d be running right now.
“Tony is going to be your new Dom for a while,” Fury said, and oh no he didn’t. Tony hadn’t agreed to anything, and he wasn’t going to be known as the guy who’d been in breach of contract with Captain fucking America, and he was going to— “Assuming the two of you are compatible, of course,” Fury added, throwing Tony’s own words in his face, and he’d never liked Fury. Not even once.
“I’ve already told you I don’t want a Dom. Nothing personal, Mr. Stark,” Captain America said as he rejected him right to his face. Not that he was insulted or anything.
“I never claimed to be in the market for a Sub either.”
“Well, then,” Captain America said, sounding surprised, and Tony couldn’t blame him, because if he’d come across Steve Rogers in a club somewhere, he would’ve snatched him up so fast, there would’ve only been a whooshing sound to mark that he’d been there at all. Although from all the stories he’d heard, Captain America was supposed to be extremely self-effacing, so maybe he wasn’t thinking Tony was passing up all that and a bag of chips, maybe he was surprised Tony wasn’t looking for a Sub, but whatever, because seriously? Hot.
“Unfortunately, as I’ve already explained to you, Captain, military regulations require that Subs who have seen combat or experienced traumatic situations must have a full-time Dom in residence for at least six months if they want to live off-base.”
“And I told you that I can live on—”
“In your case, because of your specific set of circumstances, you can’t even leave the base without accompaniment, and is that what you really want? To have to request in writing a chaperone every time you want to leave? Not to mention the fact that you’d have to apply days in advance so we could put it on someone’s schedule, in addition to the very real possibility that you could be turned down due to lack of availability or because someone decides your request isn’t important enough to permit.”
O-kay. This wasn’t really what Tony had signed on for. It was one thing to talk about taking on a new Sub—which wasn’t he’d signed on for either. Fury had just requested a meeting about one of his dad’s old projects, and he’d stupidly agreed—another thing entirely to watch someone being taken apart right in front of him, and maybe he should go—
“How is that any different than having a Dom?” Captain America asked bitterly, and woah, what?
“Excuse me,” Tony said, butting in even though he knew he shouldn’t, because it wasn’t like that had ever stopped him before. “I couldn’t help but eavesdrop, what with standing right here and everything, but you did not seriously just say that having a Dom was the same as being in lockdown in the military.”
“What would you know?” Captain America asked, turning towards him. “Have you ever been in the military, Mr. Stark?”
“And have you ever been a Sub?”
“Not exactly, but I—”
“Then you don’t know what it’s like—”
“Look,” Tony said, reaching out to put a calming hand on Captain America’s arm, “I don’t know what Dom/Sub dynamics were like back then, or your past relationships, but nowadays—”
Captain America jerked his arm away. “You don’t know anything about me, Mr. Stark, and truthfully, I’d prefer to keep it that way.”
Tony raised his hands and took a step back. “I was just trying to—”
“Why are you even here? From everything I’ve read about you in the file Nick gave me, you and I don’t have a lot in common, and those are just the highlights. That’s when they were trying to make this seem like a bonding I’d actually want.”
A file, huh? Well, that explained how he’d known Tony was a Dom at least.
The sneer on Captain America’s face seemed to get bigger and bigger the more he talked. “Making money by creating weapons designed for mass murder and being lucky enough to have a father who could pass along his genius don’t make you special, newfangled suit or not, so why don’t you just turn around and leave, because I don’t need your help, and I don’t want it either.”
“Don’t want?” Tony asked, and he could feel the mocking grin settling on his face, as comfortably as any mask he’d worn.
Growing up, people had said all kinds of things to Tony, to his face and behind his back, and he’d learned how to handle the insults, the lies, even the truth most of the time. But that was when it was from people who didn’t matter, people he didn’t look up to, and maybe he didn’t know Steve Rogers, but Captain America? He didn’t think there was a person alive who knew more about him than Tony did.
And all the stories he’d heard from his dad, all the clips where Captain America had smiled bashfully or stared stoically off into the horizon, all the comics where he’d single-handedly fought forty Nazis and won, they’d all painted the same picture about a hero and a champion of justice and an all-around good guy who helped little ladies cross the street and who would’ve smiled at Tony and been proud of him for all the things he’d accomplished for the sake of his father and himself and the whole damn world.
Tony kind of hated Steve Rogers in that moment for taking that all away from him, one of the last hold-overs from a childhood that hadn’t been much of one at all.
“You obviously don’t want, but don’t need? SHIELD’s trying to farm you out to a civilian, and sure, I’m not any Joe Schmoe off the street, but you have to be quite the problem child if they’re so eager to get rid of you.”
He saw the way Steve’s eyes flickered over to Fury—Steve, because as far as Tony was concerned, he’d lost the respect that came with the title—but Tony wasn’t going to let Fury to step in, not when he had the advantage and was dying to use it.
“I’m not the first Dom they’ve brought in, am I?” he asked, and he knew he was right from the way Steve’s face went carefully blank. “I’m not the only one they’ve shopped you around to. And maybe you managed to scare off the rest of them—uppity Sub you might be, but you’re still Captain America after all—but I don’t scare that easily, Boy, especially not by the likes of you,” he said, and he was staring right into furious blue eyes from inches away, and he didn’t even remember when that had happened. “Or maybe after spending five minutes in your charming company, they just didn’t want you—”
“That’s enough!” Fury barked, a day late and a dollar short, because there was a lost look in Steve’s eyes, just for a second, but it was there, and damn it. Tony hadn’t even started it; he simply had a habit of ending things. There was no reason for him to feel guilty.
“Well, this was fun,” Tony said a long, long, awkward moment, deciding that it was way past time to skedaddle. He slid his sunglasses out of his shirt pocket and put them on. “But look at the time; I’ve got people to do, things to see—”
“You want to be part of the Avengers Initiative, Stark, you’ll take Captain Rogers with you.”
“At ease, Soldier!” Fury said, and Steve sort of rocked back, his mouth settling into a mulish line. Even with the mixed feelings, Tony enjoyed the sight a little more than he probably should have, but what the hell. He was only human.
He tilted his head down so he could look at Fury over the sunglasses. “You didn’t want me to be part of the Avengers.”
“You said I was reckless and narcissistic and—”
“I know what I said.”
“Besides, I don’t know that I even want to be part of your secret society anymore. Are there cool handshakes involved? Do I get my own key to the clubhouse—”
“We’ll do a trial period. Three months. Things go well, Captain Rogers stays with you until you mutually agree to end your association. Things don’t go well, he comes back, and you still get a spot on the team.”
Tony glanced over at a fuming Steve. “He doesn’t look too happy about the deal.”
“Cap has gone into worse situations with less intel. He’ll agree,” Fury said with a level of confidence in his voice that could only come from being a Dom in the military talking about a lower-ranked Sub. If Tony had ever tried to tell one of the Subs under his employ that he’d be deciding their intimate life for them, they’d have had the National Association for Submissives’ Rights on him faster than the suit could go from zero to one hundred.
“You’re assuming I’m going to accept your terms.”
“I’m assuming squat. I won’t stop you if you want to walk away.”
“Uh huh.” He finally took his sunglasses off again and nibbled on one of the earpieces as he considered. “What about the contract?”
“That’s between you and Captain Rogers.”
“Sure, but I’m not going to spend three months being miserable just because ole Cap here decides he’s going to make my life hell.”
“I wouldn’t do that,” Steve said, looking self-righteous and offended, and Tony supposed he should be feeling grateful that whatever his feelings about the matter, Steve was willing to try to make it bearable at least, but what he was actually thinking was, seriously? Was there anything that didn’t set the guy off?
“So you’re saying you don’t even like me, but you’re willing to let me stick my—”
Fury made a noise, and Tony reevaluated what he’d been planning to say.
“—stick my collar around your neck?”
Apparently, it didn’t fool Steve, because he blushed, red spreading across his face in a steady wave, and Tony had to give it to him: embarrassed or not, Steve didn’t back down.
“I’ll do what I have to.”
Which was great, just great. Tony loved feeling like some sort of chore to get done as quickly as possible. Steve could say he wanted to gouge out his own eyes with a rusty spoon and manage to convey the same amount of enthusiasm.
“For God and country, eh? Lie back and think of America? Wow, I can’t wait. Can I take you home right now?”
Fury sighed, rubbing his forehead, but it totally wasn’t Tony’s fault. When he subbed, he could take or leave the sex, preferred to leave it most of the time, and surprise, surprise, there wasn’t a shortage of men and women who were willing to smack him around a little bit without a promise of orgasm afterward. When he dommed though . . . what could he say? It got the blood flowing.
But he’d never taken an unwilling Sub, or one whose kinks didn’t line up with his, because it was all too easy to do something you’d regret the next day when you were in the middle of a scene, and he didn’t want to be that kind of memory for anyone. He much preferred to be the type of memory that someone brought out in the middle of masturbating, thank you very much, the one that made people blush and squeeze their thighs together because of the pulse of arousal they got from the recollection. He didn’t think it was asking too much to be considered a sex god was all.
“As I was saying earlier, I don’t know how you’ve handled things with your previous Doms, but when I—”
“There haven’t been,” Steve interrupted, and if Tony had thought he’d been stiff before, it was nothing to the way he was holding himself then.
“There haven’t been. Any other Doms,” Steve said, like the words were being dragged out of his mouth.
“What?” Tony asked again, because had Steve seen himself?
“There was a war going on!” Steve said, defensive and disapproving. “I’m sorry if my first priority wasn’t—”
“But you’ve had sex, right? I mean, a war, sure, I get that. And I know times were different back then. But every guy goes through puberty—”
He broke off when Steve’s face flushed even harder, which, man, he hadn’t known a person could turn that shade of magenta.
Pepper always told him he had the sensitivity of a gnat, but even Tony could tell from the way Steve was practically vibrating with the effort to stay in place that he really wanted no part of the conversation they were having. Tony could sympathize. It wasn’t like he wanted to share sex secrets with Fury of all people, although he could take some small solace in the knowledge that Fury couldn’t be having any fun being there either. But since Fury was acting as their Negotiator, it was his job to stay in the room in order to make sure neither party felt threatened or coerced. Although how that worked when Fury was technically higher in the chain of command than Steve and was trying to sell him off like some kind of mail-order bride, Tony had no idea. SHIELD wasn’t technically under the purview of the Army, however, so maybe there wasn’t a conflict of interest, or maybe it was the fact that it was Captain fucking America, and if anyone could stand up for himself, it’d be the guy who punched Hitler in the face over two hundred times. Who knew really?
What Tony did know was that out of all of them, he was probably having the easiest time with the whole awkward discussion having been in the public eye his whole life, so he was used to having people know all sorts of crazy, supposedly private things about him. And when push came to shove, he could walk away, because he didn’t need to waste his time getting a recalcitrant Sub to bend knee when he could snap his fingers and have a willing one licking his boots in about ten seconds flat.
Steve, on the other hand, only a small group of people had known who he really was, and he had grown up in a time before the Internet, before people could find out your life story with the click of the mouse, so this had to be excruciating for him. To make matters a zillion times worse, no guy wanted to admit how little (zero, zilch, nil, nada) experience he had. And then the fact that Fury was offering Tony a place on the Avengers made him think he was their last resort. That they didn’t have another Dom lined up after him. It was Tony or nothing for Steve, and hell, if Tony had been in Steve’s position, he’d be demanding a pen to sign on the dotted line—Tony was quite the catch after all—but instead, Steve was just standing there, looking miserable and almost defeated, and fuck it.
Three months? Tony had avoided calls from one-night stands for longer. He could do three months. It wasn’t like they were getting married after all, and exclusivity didn’t have to be part of the contract . . . although shit, Captain America. They’d probably make Tony keep it in his pants if he weren’t keeping it in . . . wow, okay, distracting thought.
But whatever. It was probably better in the long run not to have sex with Steve. Virgins were a huge pain in the ass, dropping feelings left and right, and there’d be enough damn expectations being his first Dom—his first Dom, what the ever-loving fuck—because even if Tony didn’t do anything, there were still some formalities every couple went through.
So three months. Yeah, he could do that. And not for a place on the Avengers. He could care less about that, although the expression on Fury’s face when he told him so might be worth the hassle all by itself. And he wasn’t going to do it for Steve Rogers, because Steve was a sanctimonious prick, whose pretty face and gorgeous body and tight buns of steel—okay, okay, maybe a little bit for Steve Rogers. Primarily though, he was doing it for Captain America, because no matter what Tony thought about him now that he’d met him, no one deserved to be locked up and told when they could eat and sleep and go out—at least, not without them agreeing to it beforehand—least of all someone who’d gotten his ass kicked by war, and been left frozen for seventy years, and whose friends and family were all dead and buried, and who Tony had once admired.