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Cherry Ride

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"What's your name?" Tony asked the woman leaning on his car, as he left the Expo.

"Marshall," she said, smiling faintly.

"Irish, nice," he replied. "Who's your friend?" he continued, nodding at the blond man hovering somewhat nervously behind her. He looked like maybe he was a fan.

"This? This is Cap," she replied.

"You two come as a set?" Tony asked, hitching his hip against the driver's door. "Not that I mind, I just need to know if I should double the breakfast order."

"Nah. He's going with you," she said, and served him papers, which was cute.

"Ah," he said, as Happy took the papers and he climbed into the car. "You're here to make sure I attend?" he asked 'Cap'.

"There are certain interested parties who want to make sure you don't," Cap said mysteriously. "I'm here to make sure those parties are...thwarted."

Tony gave him a grin. "I know I have a reputation for being irresponsible but even I don't ignore Congress. Much," he added, truthfully. "But I'm not a taxi, so, I'll see you there," he added, gunned the engine, and pulled away.

Cap moved faster than Tony thought was possible; he caught up to the car in two huge bounds as Tony was still flooring it, got a grip on the corner of the backseat of a speeding convertible, and vaulted inside.

Happy reacted because he knew Tony couldn't; braking now would pitch the kid out of the car, and looking away from the road was a recipe for disaster. Tony kept driving as Happy turned and drew his sidearm.

"You'll find I'm a determined man, Mr. Stark," Cap said, which was unbearably hot. Tony slowed to a manageable speed as Happy relaxed.

"Well, it looks like you're in for four hundred miles of determination," Tony replied. "You got a name aside from Cap, or should I just call you Skippy?"

That got him a smile in the rear-view mirror. "Roger. Roger Stevens."

"Oh my God, really?" Tony made a face.

"And you see why they call me Cap," Cap said.

"Marines?"

"Army. Ex-special forces."

"And now you work for…?" Tony prompted.

Cap smiled. "Other interested parties."

"Hey boss," Happy said, because Happy was the best and knew where this was going. "Pep's on her way to DC but she's taking the jet. If you drop me at the airstrip I can beat you there, get security set up at the hotel."

Tony turned towards the airstrip just outside the Expo. "I want a penthouse suite -- where do I stash my suits in DC?" he asked. "Suite wherever they've got snappy clothes for me. Get the in-house tailor on call too, I've bulked up a little since the last time I testified before the Senate."

Happy smiled. Stop showing off for the arm candy, boss. "You got it," he said, as the car pulled to a stop in front of the airstrip. "See you in DC."

"Fly safe," Tony said. Happy climbed out, and Cap climbed over the bench and into the front seat. He took out a phone in a tough rubberized case and began poking at it with a single index finger.

"Candy Crush?" Tony asked.

"Reporting in," Cap replied.

"That phone's a piece of shit."

"It's a learner," Cap said. "I've been out of country for a few years. The things a phone can do now," he added, with an oddly wistful expression. "Anyway, I'm gonna ask for a better one, I saw the new StarkPhone. They let me go to the Expo before we served papers," he added, by explanation. "Saw your speech, too. Nice tribute to your dad."

"Sure," Tony sighed.

"I like your armor," Cap added. Tony's hands relaxed a little on the wheel. "That's some cherry ride you got, those wings of yours."

"Cherry ride? What are you, ninety?" Tony asked.

"Sometimes I feel that way," Cap admitted.

"Well, let's see if we can't get you aged back down," Tony replied, and laid on the speed.

The backseat of the roadster was roomy, and he had four hundred miles to get the twitchy, weary, mischievous man in the seat beside him into it; should be a fun challenge.

***

"So," Tony said, once they were on the freeway headed towards DC. He figured they'd pull in right around the time Ben's Chili Bowl was closing, and if they were lucky they could snag a couple of half-smokes and some chili. "How long have you been back in-country?"

"About three months," Cap said, head tilted back, apparently enjoying the breeze.

"Wow, you are fresh out," Tony said. "Enjoying being home?"

"I guess. I was gone a long time, a lot changed."

"You know what I missed most when I was in Afghanistan?" Tony said. "Hot dogs. Oh my god, I would have given a finger for a grilled American hot dog. I mean, my life, all the shit I have and do, and that's what I wanted. Weird the things you miss."

"I don't really like to talk about it," Cap said. He still had his head tilted back, eyes closed, but his fingers were tense on his thighs.

"Were you POW?" Tony asked, and then winced. Not the way to smooth-talk a man into a night of roadside passion.

"No. I had a buddy who was, I'm…grateful it wasn't that, at least," Cap replied. "I hear you were. I know it's hard."

"Yeah, well, you make do," Tony said, realizing he didn't really want to talk about it either. "Hey, who do you work for again, strange ex-military man riding in my car?"

"They said you'd ask that," Cap said, relaxing a little. "I was told it'd be more fun to keep you guessing."

"You know I can look you up in about two minutes," Tony said.

"Can you?" Cap asked, sounding only mildly interested.

Tony held up his phone and snapped a photo. "JARVIS, run facial recognition -- "

Cap's hand darted out, covering the phone, and he laughed, sitting up.

"Don't bother," he said. "I work for SHIELD."

"Confirmed," JARVIS announced, voice tinny through the phone. "Special Agent Roger G. Stevens, DOB 7/4/1985. Former US Army captain, former Special Forces, deployment location classified. Honorable discharge. Home address -- "

"Okay, no need to creep," Tony interrupted. "My, you are a baby. Enlisted out of high school?"

"More or less," Cap agreed.

"Ever been to DC before?"

"Once. I didn't get to see much, though. Probably won't this time, either," he said ruefully. "My job is to get you to the hearing. I'm handing off to Agent Coulson once we arrive."

"You mean Agent Bossypants? How's Himself?"

Cap laughed at that, a sharp, sudden bark. "I'm telling him you said that."

"I never say anything behind someone's back I wouldn't say to their face," Tony said. "For instance, I might tell my PA that your apparent laughter in the face of death is a huge turn-on, but I'd tell you too."

"The face of death?" Cap asked.

"You jumped into a moving car I was driving. That's a great way to get dragged, thrown, or shot," Tony said.

"Had a job to do."

"No comment on the turn-on aspect? No homophobic squirming?" Tony asked.

"I was briefed on you," Cap said with a sidelong look. "I knew what to expect going in."

"Not many soldiers in your line would be comfortable being hit on by a man, even a rich, gorgeous man."

"Don't sell yourself so short," Cap drawled. "Besides, I knew plenty of fellas in the service who'd take a tumble if it was offered. I grew up in...a pretty repressive place, I guess you could say. Nice to come back to somewhere a little more relaxed about all that."

"More repressive than Army Special Forces?"

"Apples and oranges, and no, you're not getting anything else out of me, Mr. Stark."

"Tony. If I'm going to be sexually harassing you, you should at least get to call me by my first name."

"I wasn't aware I was being harassed," Cap replied. "I thought you were just really out of practice at flirting."

"Out of -- !" Tony glanced at him, appalled.

"I'm just saying, as an expert in awkward flirting, I never used prisoner of war camps as an opening gambit," Cap said.

"Awkward, but not unwelcome. Because if it were unwelcome it'd be harassment."

"Keep trying and I'll let you know," Cap replied. "Nice focus there, though."

"Thanks, I try. So what do you do for fun, when you're not stalking billionaires?"

Cap shrugged. "I'm still settling in. I guess I read a lot."

"Yeah? What're you into? Wait, no, I want to guess," Tony said, peering at him. "Politics. You strike me as a Biographies Of The Presidents type."

He laughed. "Sure, sometimes."

"History? Military history."

"History, yes. Not exclusively military."

"So you read and...you don't strike me as a gun nut."

"Nah. I like 'em, but they're kind of a unitool."

Tony laughed. "A unitool!"

"Really only good for one thing, and it's a thing I sorta lost my taste for," Cap said. "No, I do my range time and then I'm done."

"You like to cook?"

"I like to eat. Enjoying my share of microwave dinners these days."

"Sushi? I know a couple of good sushi joints in DC."

"Never had it," Cap said.

"Seriously? Never?"

"I'm not what you'd call an adventurous eater. I had a lot of allergies when I was a kid."

"Model trains," Tony guessed.

"As a hobby? What sent you there?"

"You seem like a guy who likes attention to detail. I'm not right, am I?"

"No," Cap said, laughing. "Well, half-right. I do pay attention to the little things."

"So what do you do, besides read?"

"I sketch a little," Cap admitted, sounding shy. He reached into his pocket and took out a little moleskine notebook, paging through it. He opened it to a page about a quarter of the way in and held it out.

Tony glanced down at it quickly, not willing to take his eyes off the road, then did a double-take and looked down again.

Most of the page was blacked out in heavy ink, but there was a woman in shades of grey and cream, mainly illuminated by a light in her hand. Tony recognized her as one of the Ironettes from the show earlier; she was bent over, adjusting one of her boots, hair falling across her profile. It didn't have the hint of lust and desire he'd have expected; she might as well have been wearing a trench coat, instead of a bikini and gloves. There was an almost melancholy quality to the art.

"That's pretty good," he said. "Hey, draw me."

"What?" Cap asked, startled, closing the book with a snap.

"Draw me. Look, here, I'll pose for you," Tony said, and straightened his shoulders, raising his chin, giving the road ahead his best superstar smile. He rested one arm on the door of the car, steering with the heel of his right hand.

"Right now," Cap said. Tony nodded. "In a convertible doing 90 at just past midnight."

"Am I keeping you from your beauty sleep?" Tony asked.

"Don't sleep much anymore," Cap muttered, almost to himself. "Okay, fine," he said, loosening his seat belt a little so that he could turn on the bench seat, tucking one leg up under him, propping the book on his thigh. "You drive, and don't worry about looking too shiny, I'm not that good."

Tony drove in silence for a while, listening to the skritch of graphite on paper, enjoying the quiet road and the smooth hum of the car under him.

"I didn't think you knew how to stop talking," Cap said eventually. "I'm impressed."

"Well, I only do it to get attention, and I had your attention anyway," Tony said. "At heart I'm a lazy man, I -- "

He broke off, startled. Cap had reached out to brush back a lock of hair, tucking it away from his forehead. His touch was light, nothing especially seductive, but at the same time it was an intimate liberty to take without asking. Cap didn't seem to notice, though; he went back to his sketchbook, added a few more lines, and then snapped it shut again.

"I don't get to see?" Tony pouted.

"Not until we're stopped," Cap replied. "How much longer to DC?"

"About an hour and a half. You want to stop and get some coffee?"

"Tired? I can drive, if you want."

"Not especially," Tony said. He'd napped before the show, disgusted at his own exhaustion but well aware that his body was failing and he'd need the rest.

He felt less now like a man who was dying -- more like he felt in the suit, like the air and the earth were both at his fingertips. Wired and hungry.

"I'd just like to see the picture," he added, drifting his way into the exit lane. There wasn't even a gas station off this exit, just a two-lane road leading from the overpass off into a copse of trees. He turned down the road, found a convenient shoulder half-obscured by a hedge, and pulled in.

"You won't be able to see it," Cap said, amused.

Tony grasped the hem of his shirt and lifted it. Light shone down on the closed book. He glanced up at Cap to gauge his reaction, but his eyes were on Tony's face, not the nightlight in his chest. Wordlessly, he flicked the book open and held it out.

Tony bent his head over it, studying it -- the shadows on his face, the deep lines around his eyes, his mouth turned up in a half-smile, not the sweet, false grin he'd been giving him. He looked like a very tired man having a better time than he'd expected. It was uncomfortably honest.

"Well, you captured the moment," he said, lifting his head. Cap's face was very close, eyes half-shut. "Are you allowed to get laid on duty, Captain?"

"Are you offering?" Cap asked.

"You know what, I believe I am -- " Tony started, cutting off when Cap leaned forward and kissed him.

It was more eager than experienced, which was charming. Tony twisted to adjust the angle, mouth sliding open, but Cap jerked back, startled.

Tony tilted his head. "Not good?"

"Surprising," Cap said. "Sorry. I don't kiss many people."

"All that time out of country?" Tony guessed. Cap nodded. "Okay. You want to try again?"

"Very much," Cap said shyly, tipping his head in, mouth hovering close to Tony's, waiting. Tony rested a hand lightly on the back of his neck and kissed him again. Cap snatched in a breath through his nose, mouth opening, and Tony smiled into the kiss. Quick learner.

"More room in the back," he murmured, after another few minutes of kissing, and Cap went straight over the seat with an enviable athleticism. Tony had more experience than he cared to discuss, taking his clothes off in the back seat of a car, but convertibles did have a few advantages. One of which was that once he was down to his briefs he could put the half-naked man in front of him on the seat, tell him to stay there, straddle him, and rise up on his knees, look up and see nothing but sky. Practically flying.


Artwork by Chibiesque; original art posted here.

Cap got both hands under his ass, holding him up, and kissed his chest, the hypersensitive skin just above the reactor, the muscles on either side of it -- and the black poison-lines that weren't visible in the shadows cast by the only light for what felt like miles around, other than the moon.

Tony settled back down in his lap and Cap took his mouth eagerly, like it was the first good touch he'd had in a long time.

"What do you like?" Tony asked, rolling his hips down. Cap bucked and then looked embarrassed.

"Hardly know to say," he said. His hands slid up, fingertips exploring the lines of Tony's back. "What do you like?"

"I could write a book," Tony said, amused. "Tell you what, we'll keep it simple, lie down -- there you go," he said, as Cap turned and leaned back against the rear passenger-side door. He was tall enough that his left leg hung over the door on the far side, right leg bent with his foot on the floor, Tony half-straddling, half-kneeling over him. Tony bent and latched his teeth into Cap's neck, and Cap let out an eager keen, one hand clutching the waistband of Tony's underwear at the back. There was a tearing noise.

"Unbearably hot," Tony said, before Cap could get anxious about literally ripping the clothing from his body. "Get these off you," he added, tugging on Cap's pants, and after a few seconds of wrestling they were both naked, Cap flushed from cheekbone to chest, eyes glittering in the light from the reactor. Tony rested a hand on Cap's stomach, while his chest heaved like a bellows.

"Can I touch you?" Cap gasped, one hand on Tony's hip, the other hovering in the air, uncertain.

"Aren't you sweet," Tony said, bending to kiss between his collarbones. "Yes, you can."

Cap's hand was warm, and a little clumsy -- too loose around his cock, then too tight -- but there was something hot about his obvious inexperience. He was just trying so hard, face scrunched in concentration, ignoring his own arousal. Tony bowed his back and rested an elbow above Cap's shoulder, left hand sliding down to grasp his wrist.

"Let me help," he said in Cap's ear, and felt his whole body shudder. "Sensitive?"

"I like the things you say," Cap replied, like he was admitting a sin.

"Good, I like saying them," Tony said. Cap laughed. Tony laced his fingers around Cap's, straightening them, and then adjusted his posture until he could re-wrap their hands around both of them at the same time. Cap's head jerked back, eyes rolling up, and Tony smiled and curled his hand, tightening their fingers.

He moved his hips just enough, as Cap's hand started to slide up and down, to add a little extra friction. Cap's other hand was spread over his ass, fingers tucked in the crease, grip gradually tightening until Tony wondered if he'd have bruises. Not that he minded.

He tucked his forehead against Cap's shoulder and listened to the noises he made, the cries and bitten-off words, enjoying Cap's pleasure almost more than his own. He could tell the other man was close, and he turned his face into the side of Cap's neck, nipping at the tightly-drawn muscle there.

Cap whined high in his throat, body arching, and then fell silent, teeth digging into his lip as he came. Tony bit harder and felt his hand tighten, which pushed him over the edge -- the air stung his lungs as he inhaled, and the hot wash of pleasure up from his belly felt amazing. He collapsed down on top of Cap, heedless of the mess, and let himself drift for a while. The body under him was warm, and after a few minutes Cap shifted and found his shirt, pulling it over Tony's shoulders.

He wasn't sure quite how long they lay there; long enough that Cap was either enjoying an extra-long afterglow or had actually fallen asleep. Eventually his phone buzzed, and he fumbled around until he found it under some clothes. He lit it up and let his hand hang down, reading it over Cap's bare shoulder to keep the light out of his eyes.

JARVIS
Sir, Captain Stevens' record appears to be fabricated. I have run a benchmarking comparison to test my new "intuition" protocols.

JARVIS
Sir, Roger Stevens is almost certainly a SHIELD agent but that is almost certainly not his real name. Shall I alert Ms. Potts?

JARVIS
Sir, I have run your facial analysis program against known military databases and public SHIELD records.

JARVIS
Sir, I have run your facial analysis program against public records and I believe Captain Stevens bears an uncanny resemblance to Captain Steve G. Rogers, DOB 7/4/1920.

Tony frowned, studying the image that accompanied the last text. On the left was the photo he'd snapped of Cap; on the right was a grainy black-and-white image from a newsreel of good old Captain America.

"Well, that's...oedipal of me," Tony said, tossing the phone into the footwell. Figures he'd be attracted to someone who looked like his dad's stupid idol. Probably just one of those coincidences, that his name was Roger Stevens. Like that old meme about Lincoln and Kennedy.

"S'goin'on?" Cap mumbled, shifting underneath him. Tony enjoyed the solid ripple of muscle up his chest, propping both his elbows on Cap's pecs.

"Ready to hit the road again, Special Forces?" he asked. Cap gave him a goofy smile and a nod.

"If I'm late to the hearing, I'm bringing you in and making you take your shirt off as Exhibit A regarding why," Tony told him, locating his pants and then, when they turned out to be Cap's pants, shoving them in his face.

"The way you drive, we'll make it in time to get breakfast somewhere," Cap said, grunting as Tony rolled off him.

"You don't seem to mind a fast car," Tony pointed out, pulling his shirt over his head. "Where the hell are my pants?"

Cap twisted his hips (delightful) and pulled them out from under his back, offering them sheepishly.

"Hopefully I will also have time to change," he said, smoothing the pants as much as he could before pulling them on. Cap tossed his shirt into the front seat and then climbed back over. Tony grabbed his ass as he went. "How long are you in DC? Once I get done with these subcommittee hearings I'll be in the mood to show someone a good time. Could be you if you play your cards right."

"Gee, Mr. Stark, really?" Cap teased, reaching back for his shirt and shrugging into it, buttoning it as Tony (much less gracefully) shuffled back into the driver's seat.

"Salt, all I get from you is salt," Tony said, firing up the engine.

"I'm on a week's leave once I hand you over," Cap said, buckling his seat belt and tucking the discarded notebook away in his jacket again. He looked just put-together enough to be showing small signs of dishabille, which was perfect.

"You should let me buy you dinner. Make up for the fact that we may have left your underwear on a backroad in the middle of Amish country."

"Can't get used to the underwear anyway," Cap said, then blushed.

"A commando commando, huh?"

"It's all so soft now, that's all. I was just getting used to scratchy drawers."

"You don't have much luggage for being on a week's leave," Tony pointed out.

"Well, I have the only luggage that really matters anymore," Cap said, and held up a debit card between his fingers. "Lots of hazard pay built up. I'll buy what I need when we get there."

"You're too delicious. Please don't; let me do it. I've always wanted to be someone's sugar daddy."

"I'll take sushi from you, Tony, I don't think I'd better let you dress me," Cap said.

"Ruin my fun."

"I'm sure you'll find other ways to entertain yourself."

***

CAP
Was seducing Stark part of the plan and you just didn't tell me?

M.HILL
No, Natasha's all over that, she just infiltrated Stark Legal. Why?

CAP
You may not require her services now.

M.HILL
You were only supposed to get him to DC! Since when do you even swing that way?

CAP
Since always, not that it's ever been the business of the US Government.

M.HILL
Save the civics lecture. Did you seriously fuck Tony Stark on the drive from New York to DC?

CAP
Not that that's any business of the US Government either.

M.HILL
I'll tell Natasha her services in that arena will not be required. Have fun being the honeypot. Be careful, he's fickle.

CAP
Yes ma'am.

M.HILL
Okay, I have to know, was he any good? Everyone says he's good, but nobody's THAT good.

CAP
I haven't got a lot of basis for comparison but I'm pretty sure his reputation is very well-earned.

***

"If you're trying to sell your story to the tabloids, I think you should know they're paid to report you back to me," Tony said, arriving at the folding table outside Ben's Chili Bowl with a sack of food.

"Just checking in with my boss," Cap said, blacking his phone and putting it away. Tony handed him a half-smoke and set a bowl of chili between them to share. "You know, I hear you have a penthouse booked somewhere in this city, it's probably warmer there," he added.

"The ambiance is part of the experience," Tony said, spooning some chili into the paper tray, then some into his mouth.

"How good can this possibly -- wow," Cap said, with his mouth full of food. "Okay, that's worth sitting outside in the cold for."

"Told you," Tony said. "So, this senate thing should pretty much be one and done, I'll be free in time for dinner. Sushi and clubbing?"

"I'm not much of a clubber," Cap said. "Don't know how to dance. Besides, they're expecting your testimony to take a few days at least, aren't they?"

"I never adhere to other peoples' expectations. Firm rule of business," Tony said. "Sushi and a show?"

It actually exhausted him, just thinking about going out after the day he was about to have. Clubbing was a default that he didn't even want to think about, and if they caught a stage show or a concert he'd probably fall asleep, which at least would be in line with his playboy image. There were times he regretted never developing a cocaine habit. Say what you like, it kept you going.

"How about your penthouse," Cap said, licking his fingers, "sushi delivery, then we try repeating this evening's entertainment in something a little more forgiving than the back seat of a convertible?"

Oh God, yes. Sushi, sex, and fifteen hours of sleep sounded amazing.

"Well, if you want to be boring about it," Tony said, grinning.

"Pretty sure you won't be bored. Or if you are it won't be my fault," Cap replied.

"I'm never bored," Tony asserted.

"I believe that's true," Cap said, his eyes oddly serious.

***

Pepper texted to get an ETA and give him the name of his hotel just as they were finishing their food; Tony wiped his fingers on a napkin and tossed Cap the keys.

"Drop me at the service entrance and take the car for the day," he said, when Cap's blue eyes filled with confusion. "I'll leave a keycard for you with the front desk. Come by whenever you're done shopping, and whatever else you're planning to do today."

"Your bodyguard's not gonna shoot me if I randomly show up in your hotel room, right?" Cap asked.

"He'll be with me. I should be back by five."

"It's a nice car," Cap said, as they got back into the car. "I won't say no."

"I didn't think you would," Tony said. "Now I need two hours of sleep and the attention of a tailor."

Pepper was waiting for him at the service entrance, looking a lot less road weary than he was.

"I see now why you kicked Happy out of the car," she said, eyes on Cap as he drove off.

"Happy chose to go."

"Happy's very discreet. You smell like teenaged desperation. Should I put in an order to have the back seat sterilized?"

"Are you implying you wouldn't hit that if you had the chance?" Tony asked, following her into the service elevator.

"Is he actually some kind of special protective detail, or is Happy lying to cover for your inability to leave a public gathering without picking up a pretty face?"

Tony laughed. "He's a SHIELD agent, if you can believe that."

"Mm, they do make them decorative."

"He says he works for Agent Bossypants."

"You have got to stop calling him that, Tony, he'll hear you someday."

"He ought to, I'm sure he knows how bossy his pants are. Happy, thank God," Tony said, as the elevator let them out into the penthouse suite. Happy held up two garment bags. Tony bent over to examine them closely.

"This suit, the other tie," he said. "I'm going to wash and nap. Wake me at ten minutes to time so I can be fashionably late."

"Wake him an hour ahead of time so he's not held in contempt of the entire Senate," Pepper told Happy.

"Sorry, boss, I owe her after I left you alone with a strange man," Happy called, as Tony began stripping on his way to the shower.

"Stranger than you know!" Tony called back.

***

When Tony returned to the hotel suite that evening, he heard the television going in the lounge. Happy did too; he made frantic and hilarious hand signals to Pepper, who rolled her eyes and kept going down the hallway to the smaller suite the pair of them were sharing.

Well, it wasn't like they hadn't debriefed in the car, and really, how did you debrief from a day like that one had been? Pepper spent most of the time on the phone to Stark PR.

On the TV screen in the lounge, Tony saw himself ripping the subcommittee a new one; from this vantage point he could also see Rhodey, who he hadn't dared look at during the hearing. He'd thought Rhodey was pissed at him, supremely pissed, but he could see now that Rhodey had his fist stuffed in his mouth to keep from laughing. Well, that was one less thing to worry about. He'd send him an apology bouquet of some kind. Fruit, Rhodey liked healthy things. Maybe booze. Fruity booze.

Cap was sitting crosslegged on the couch, watching the hearing. Gone were the dark, conservative trousers and button-down shirt; he'd acquired some jeans and a t-shirt with a Magritte painting on it, a woman on a horse half-obscured by the empty space between trees. He was barefoot, long toes tucked up under his thighs. It was the first time Tony had seen him in anything approaching real light, and he looked even more spectacular than he had vaulting into the car the night before.

"Hey! I see what you mean about one-and-done," he said, muting the television. "That was a lot of fun to watch."

"I do like to entertain," Tony said, loosening his tie and hanging his suit coat over a nearby chair. "I see you shopped."

"Huh -- oh yeah! I went to the National Gallery, bought about half a dozen t-shirts in the museum shop while I was there. I love Magritte. Saw his work when I was in Europe," Cap said. "I always wanted to visit the National Gallery. Guess I don't need to ask how your day went," he added, turning and resting an elbow on the back of the couch, propping his head on his hand as Tony sat down, studying him with careful eyes.

"You know, the nice thing about all the trauma of a kidnapping is, I've always had worse," Tony said with a faint smile.

"Doesn't mean the day was great," Cap replied. "Still want dinner?"

"Ah, yes, I do," Tony agreed, leaning forward and picking up the cordless phone on the coffee table, pushing the button for the concierge. "This is Stark in the penthouse. Call up Yosaku and order delivery for me, please? Couple of party trays, one of everything at least. Appetizers too. Tell the chef I'm feeding someone who's never eaten sushi before, get them to whip up a sampler. But lots of food. Okay, thanks," he said, and hung up.

On the table, next to the phone, was a full-sized sketchpad. Tony glanced at Cap for permission, eyebrows raised, and picked it up when he got a nod.

"You've been busy," he said, flipping through the pages, sketch after sketch of sculptures and paintings and people looking at paintings.

"I could spend days in those galleries," Cap said, looking dreamy.

Tony watched him over the edge of the sketchbook, curious. "You're an odd one, Cap."

"Yeah, I know," Cap replied, drifting back into reality. "Can't really get away from that, lately."

"Well, you're in good company," Tony said, closing the sketchbook. "Wanna make out until the food arrives?"

Cap seemed to enjoy that -- he liked kissing and he picked up on all of Tony's tricks pretty quickly, but he was...pliable, Tony supposed, willing to let someone else drive and simply adjusting to accept it when Tony deepened a kiss or slid a hand under his shirt to pet his chest, rolling a nipple between his fingers. He liked that, for sure, which was always good to know. He seemed like the type who'd feel emasculated by a little titty-groping, but he just arched up and rolled with it, humming in satisfaction. He really liked grabbing Tony's ass, too, but it wasn't like that was unpleasant.

"Will you get that?" Tony asked, when the delivery guy knocked on the door.

"Uh -- sure," Cap said distractedly, and went to answer the door with a bright red mouth, messy hair, and his nipples peaked through his shirt. Tony twisted on the sofa to watch. The delivery guy, around Cap's shoulder, gave Tony a knowing look.

Cap apparently liked sushi even more than he liked making out. Tony couldn't really blame him -- they were both starving, and Yosaku was one of the best sushi places in town. Cap ate slowly but steadily, sampling his way through everything before starting over from the beginning, picking out what he liked best. He was curious about every ingredient, about why eel sauce was called eel sauce when it clearly had no eel in it, about what nori was and whether the red stuff was actually fish eggs or whether that was just what it was called.

"No, it's real fish eggs," Tony said.

"Well, it's tastier than it looks," Cap replied.

"That is not the reaction most white people have to their first encounter with fish eggs in sushi," Tony said.

"They eat caviar, don't they?" Cap asked around a mouthful of tobiko nigiri. "Besides, some of the stuff I ate overseas, I'd find it hard to turn my nose up at any kinda fresh food, and this is tasty."

"Can I ask where you were stationed, or is that so classified you can't trust a billionaire with it?" Tony said, picking at the last of his food.

"The generalities aren't," Cap said, working his chopsticks like he hadn't just learned to use them half an hour ago. "Europe mainly. Africa on occasion. I led a small unit into areas that needed, uh, infiltration, and we tended to act as point. Disabling emplacements, sabotage, that kind of thing. Less exciting than the pictures make it seem," he said with a smile.

"So you saw a lot of action."

"Yeah, off and on. I was in active combat about three years."

"And now you work for SHIELD."

Cap nodded. "My hitch was up, and SHIELD...got me out of a jam. Figured I owed them. The Army doesn't really need a man like me anymore, anyway."

Tony frowned. "Why do you say that?"

Cap looked like he'd been caught saying something he shouldn't. "Oh, you know."

"Not really," Tony said, tilting his head. Cap shrugged, clearly uncomfortable. "But their loss is SHIELD's gain, which is my gain by proxy," he added, and Cap immediately relaxed. Interesting. "Still hungry?"

"No, I'm done, but this was amaz -- " Cap started, then broke off when Tony slid off his own chair and into Cap's lap.

"Glad you liked it," Tony said, cupping the back of his head in his fingers, tipping Cap's jaws up with his thumbs. "How would you, Cap, like to try something a little more...complicated than the backseat?"

Cap's smile was earnest and open. "I'd like that a lot."

And then he just stood the hell up, and Tony had a moment of dizzying disorientation before he realized he was held quite securely, one arm around his ass and under his thigh, supporting him, and the other across his back keeping him balanced.

"Jesus that's hot," he said, as Cap carried him towards the bedroom.

"I sorta thought it might be," Cap admitted, and stopped just inside the bedroom door. "Bed or wall?"

Tony rested his forehead on Cap's shoulder. "Dealer's choice," he managed, because just getting asked the question was ridiculously hot.

"Bed," Cap decided, like he actually had to stop and consider the advantages of each. He tipped Tony back onto the bed and tugged his shirt off. Tony wriggled out of his pants as Cap crawled over him, hands going to the hem of his dress shirt.

"You hacked the Department of Justice from a phone in front of Senate," Cap said, body undulating against him, head bent into his neck. "That was very attractive."

"And here I thought you were only after my body," Tony said, slinging a leg around his thigh, casually disentangling Cap's hand from his shirt.

"Don't be ridiculous. I'm after your money," Cap replied, undoing the top buttons on the shirt.

Tony -- well, he tried to roll them over, but he probably wouldn't have managed if Cap hadn't taken the hint and rolled with him. Tony sat up, one hand on Cap's sternum, and then slid backwards down his thighs.

Cap hissed when he sucked him into his mouth, hands rising off the bed and then dropping back down like he wasn't sure what was allowed. Tony tipped his head forward, sliding a hand up to tangle in Cap's, and felt a grateful curl of fingers against his palms.

"Tony, oh -- " Cap said, muscles twitching under his other hand. Tony kept his mouth occupied, and more importantly, kept Cap occupied. When he seemed sufficiently distracted, Tony sat back and smiled. Cap had his eyes closed, one arm over his face to hide the blush there.

"There's no delicate way to ask this," Tony said, resting a hand on Cap's thigh. "Top or bottom?"

Cap let his arm slide aside and then looked up at him, laughing.

"Very suave, Mr. Stark," he said, one hand grasping Tony's wrist lightly. He drew one thigh up, hips tilting invitingly. Tony leaned over and kissed him.

"Be right back," he said, sliding off the bed. It was tough to maintain one's dignity in nothing but a half-buttoned dress shirt, but it was preferable to the questions that might be asked about the poison lines if he took the shirt off, and Cap seemed inclined to leave it at this point.

His standard request rider for the hotel hadn't actually been changed since his wilder days, and he found what he was looking for in the drawer next to the sink, an ordinary white carton filled with delights. Lubricant, condoms, and (ah youth) a pot of chocolate body paint. Some other time, perhaps.

Cap watched him return, eyes scanning him like he was trying to record the sight, which was pleasantly flattering. Tony knelt on the bed and bent to kiss him, hand hitching his thigh up.

Cap made a soft, surprised noise at the first intrusion, but when Tony froze, he opened his eyes and looked confused.

"Why'd you stop?" he asked, and Tony grinned.

"Just making sure you were enjoying yourself," he said.

"I promise I'll tell you if I'm not," Cap replied.

"Noted," Tony said, amused, and bent back to his work. Cap was so responsive, sensitive to every touch, painfully eager, and by the time he was ready he'd been telling Tony he was ready for at least five minutes.

"All right, quickdraw, hold on," Tony said finally, giving him an open-handed slap to the bottom of his thigh as he rolled the condom on. Cap went rigid, but Tony could tell this time it wasn't displeasure. Good to know.

Cap let himself be manhandled into Tony's lap, swinging his thighs over Tony's hips, hissing when Tony pressed in slowly.

"Breathe deep," Tony said, and Cap groaned.

"Surprised I can at all," he managed, breath hitching. "Jesus, you're big."

"Thank you."

"My -- ah! -- pleasure."

Tony angled his body forward, driving himself in just a little deeper, and Cap reached up and touched his chest, just above the spread of his open collar. Tony tucked his chin to kiss his fingertips, hips moving slowly.

"This does beat the backseat," Cap breathed, smiling when Tony laughed. "It's okay, feels good, you can -- yes -- "

"Sweet man," Tony said, as Cap clutched at his hips. "You feel amazing."

"Good, good..." Cap murmured, pulling him close and curving his body upwards so they could kiss. The angle was awkward but Cap didn't seem to care, and it was adorable, how much he liked it.

The hot clench of his body and the way he bucked his hips up to meet Tony's thrusts meant neither of them would last long, and under the pleasure Tony could feel a trickle of pain, the heavy metal poisoning starting to make itself known. But that just added an edge, and anyway he was going to die soon enough; why deny himself the pleasure of this in the meantime?

Cap's hand hooked in the first closed button of his shirt, but he didn't try to open it, just used the fabric to hold him there. Tony braced one hand on the bed and wrapped the other around Cap's cock, jerking him off, and Cap seemed to melt -- fell back on the bed, arms rising above his head, motion rolling outward from his hips. The man had the muscle control of a circus acrobat and bucked like a bull, and Tony just held on and raced towards orgasm, ignoring the dizziness and the thick heaviness in his chest, the sparks of pain along his nerves.

When he came, he couldn't breathe, but he didn't think he needed to; he floated, endorphins washing away the pain and anxiety and terror he wouldn't admit to, smoothing out the sharp edges of the world. He felt, distantly, Cap's body tense beneath him, twitching with orgasm.

"Hey, easy," Cap said, sounding like he was far off, muffled through a long tunnel. Tony gasped in a breath, finally, and an aftershock jerked him forward, collapsing on Cap's chest. Cap's body was warm, arms rising to encircle him, and he felt fingers petting his hair, smoothing it back from his face.

"Easy," Cap repeated, as Tony gasped in breaths. He felt tears at the corner of his eyes, turning his head to wipe them away on Cap's skin before he could see them. "Yeah, your turn to breathe deep," Cap said, and Tony managed a shaky laugh.

"Good?" Tony asked, and Cap tilted his chin up with one hand to kiss him.

"Amazing," Cap said. "I've never -- I didn't know it was like that."

Tony patted his chest, uncoordinated, and let himself be rolled onto his side, away from the nice, sleek warmth.

"I need to clean up," Cap said softly, kissing him again. "Back in a second. Don't go anywhere."

That wrung a laugh out of Tony, but he could feel a heavy exhaustion settling in. He'd been on tense high-alert for two days, between opening the Expo and testifying, and it felt like finally he could rest as much as he wanted.

He heard water running in the bathroom and then felt hands on him, stripping off the condom (oh, that was a little embarrassing) and turning him onto his back. He thought he felt Cap's hands on his lapels, shifting the shirt a little to one side, and maybe he heard a curious, pained noise, but he was so close to sleep that he couldn't struggle back to consciousness, and when Cap's warm weight settled along his side, he stopped trying.

***

When Tony woke, Cap was asleep, but he'd rolled away and was lying on his back, one arm over his head, face tilted in Tony's direction. He was some kind of mad sculptor's dream, with that jawline and that mouth and that skin. Tony wanted to touch, but he didn't want to wake him, and for the first time in a long time he did want to stay in the bed. Not as though he could creep out to his workshop now anyway, what with the workshop being three thousand miles away. Stark Tower couldn't be finished soon enough, and it was still hundreds of miles away. Of course, he had the suitcase armor with him, but....

Cap must have woken in the night and gotten up for a while; there was a pencil clasped loosely in the hand on the pillow, and his notebook lay on the bedspread, fanned open to a half-blank page. Tony reached out and picked it up, curious. Cap had offered it to him before, so he supposed there wasn't anything too private in it.

He paged through it idly, occasionally turning it for better perspective. The sketches in the bigger book were more polished, more artistic, but the ones in this little one, half of them done in ballpoint pen, were much more evocative. There was the drawing he'd done of Tony driving, and on the next page --

Tony stifled a delighted laugh. The man in this picture had his head tilted back, looking up at a dark night sky, arms spread, naked down to where his body faded away at the edge of the page. Cap had paid careful attention to the musculature, except at the center of the chest where he'd left a bright void. No mistaking who that was, or when he'd taken the mental snapshot -- back in the car, pulled off the highway, when Tony had sat in his lap and leaned back to stare at the sky.

On the opposite page was an erotic little drawing of the two of them together, Tony's head bent, mouth open in a silent moan, and Cap's arm obscuring their hips, hand clenched on the round curve of his buttock. A little homebrewed porn, or maybe a memory Cap would enjoy keeping. That was the way to do it; have a little fun, leave 'em happier than you found 'em.

He flipped back, interested to see what was on the earlier pages, and found that not all of the sheets had sketches. There was a list, starting near the front and running for nearly three pages, of things written down and then crossed out. Books, movies, television shows, historical events, some stretching back as far as the early fifties, in tight columns, two per page.

Star Trek
Star Wars
Beat Poets
Valley Of The Dolls
Jaws
Star Trek Movies(??)
Zapruder (Oliver Stone?)
Led Zeppelin
Pisco
I Love Lucy
Moon landing
Berlin Wall (up & down)
Saturday night live
Thai food

The list went on and on, with no apparent order or reason to it. It read like an alien had been taking notes on popular culture by just wandering around and listening to people talk.

About two thirds of the way through the list, Cap had written Fuck fuck fuck I'm so tired. I'm so tired.

Then the list just picked right up again, the profanity and exhaustion scratched out like it was another checked-off item.

How would anyone miss so much culture? Just growing up in America you'd have to absorb some of it. Maybe...

Maybe he'd been raised Amish. Or in some kind of cult -- that would explain a lot. That would explain it all, actually. If he'd been raised away from the mainstream, blind to popular media, he wouldn't know any of this. If he'd enlisted at eighteen to escape the cult, it would explain why he'd spent so long out of country, why he seemed so lonely now. Any family or friends he had from his life before would have cut him off when he left. He'd have only himself and his wits to rely on, and he practically would be an alien. Tough to make friends that way, even in the military.

It was a hard way to live. Tony'd lost his parents when he was a kid, but he'd had Obie -- who hadn't always been an evil asshole, he'd done right by Tony in the hard years between orphaned-at-seventeen and CEO-at-twenty-one, and even after, when Tony was proving himself at SI. If he'd failed, back when, no single failure would have destroyed SI; Obie would have stopped him before too many things had gone wrong. And even if he had run SI into the ground, which he hadn't, he'd have had his trust fund. Safety net after safety net, and Cap had none of that.

He felt a surge of tenderness for the young man asleep next to him, an unaccustomed feeling. God, the poor kid. Named after his rank, no family, no touchstones in this life; one wrong move and he'd be back at the bottom, scrambling for purchase. And still here he was, running around as the most baby-faced SHIELD agent ever, bodyguarding billionaires and losing his virginity in the back seat of a convertible on the way to a Senate subcommittee hearing.

And it wasn't like there was much Tony could offer him. He was already dying. It was going to get uglier before the end. Still, hard to end this. Maybe another week -- he could take Cap to California, show him a good time there, end it on a high note.

He smoothed a lock of hair off Cap's forehead, tracing back over his eyebrow and lightly brushing the bridge of his nose, idle touches. Cap's eyes slitted open, and he turned his head into the touch with a smile.

"Hey," he said.

"Hey," Tony replied, kissing his forehead.

"What's up?"

"Not much," Tony said. Casual was best. "Listen, the subcommittee hearing...that went well, but my company's still in something of a free-fall."

"You need to work," Cap surmised.

"I do. I have to get back to California soon. But I thought -- "

They were interrupted by an insistent, blaring alarm. Cap startled fully awake, tumbling out of bed, and Tony looked around wildly.

"Sorry, sorry -- " Cap rummaged in his clothes, coming up with his phone. "I wouldn't -- but it's my priority alert -- "

Tony waved him off, and Cap punched a button on the phone, answering it with a grateful look.

"Cap here," he said, and then, "Yes -- no, sir, I don't think -- I was on the understanding I was on leave, not on call. Yes, of course, but -- sir, I don't understand. What could possibly -- a...." Cap's voice rose in confusion. "Can you repeat please? Yes, that's what I thought you said. No, sir. Nosir. I'll brief her when I come in. Yes, sir. I'll report to Dulles right away."

He thumbed the phone off and sighed, shoulders slumping.

"Duty calls?" Tony asked.

"Apparently you're not the only one who has to get back to business," Cap said, sitting on the bed, hands lacing behind his neck. Tony knee-walked across to where he sat and slung his arms around him from behind, pressing his face to Cap's shoulder. The body beneath his relaxed slowly.

"Listen, this is for the best," he said. "We've had a good time, but I think we both know that's exactly what this was."

"A good time," Cap repeated, sounding hollow. Tony kissed his shoulder.

"I like to leave people happier than I found them," he said. "You had fun, huh?"

"Yeah, I did," Cap agreed, reaching back to twine his fingers in Tony's hair. "This was a lot of fun. Very educational, too."

"Good, then we should part friends. Here," Tony said, taking the phone from him and keying his personal cell number into it. He saved it as Anthony Fastcar, and that got a laugh out of Cap. "If you're ever in Malibu or you see I'm in -- where do you live, anyway?"

"Brooklyn."

"Dear God. Well, if I'm ever in Brooklyn, or you're ever in Malibu, give me a call. We'll have a good time," Tony said, and kissed his cheek. "Remember me fondly. I certainly will you."

"Thank you," Cap said. "I mean it. I've never met anyone quite like you."

"That's a nice thing to say," Tony said. "Now, go get washed and dressed. Do you have time for breakfast before shipping out?"

"Probably not," Cap said, standing. "I'll see you around, Tony."

"I can only hope," Tony said, shaking the offered hand. He watched as Cap dressed, eyes closing as he left the bedroom; he heard him packing up his stuff, but by the time the front door closed he was already most of the way back to sleep.

***

He thought about Cap in the months that followed, off and on; once the whole "impending death" thing was resolved, he even hoped he'd call. After all, while Tony wasn't in Brooklyn, he was often in New York, overseeing Stark Tower's construction, and he made the local news with reasonable regularity.

When Agent Agent brought him the information about the Tesseract, after it had gone missing, he saw the file had film clips of Captain America, acrobatically destroying someone back in WWII. But he didn't make any kind of connection between the black-and-white hero and a SHIELD agent who'd spent a couple of hours in his bed. He hadn't even understood why it was there...and then came Germany.

He got the SHIELD alert requesting reinforcement in Stuttgart not long after the Tesseract was taken, and he broke the sound barrier getting there; he decided to enter with a splash, which lasted exactly as long as it took him to notice someone in a Captain America uniform on the plaza, punching way above his weight class.

He managed to knock Loki down, land, and get out a single quip before turning his head to see the man in the crazy Cap costume come up next to him. He saw the tactical readiness of the suit, not a costume but a uniform designed for combat. And he saw the shape of the jaw and the mouth, and he saw those cornflower blue eyes. And he saw the guilt in those eyes.

"Cap," he said, in what he was pleased to hear came out as a measured tone.

"Mr. Stark," Cap said, shoulders hunching in.

Tony flipped his faceplate up. "Roger Stevens, huh?"

"In my defense, a lot of what happened wasn't meant to happen," Cap said.

"Maybe not the place to discuss it," Tony said.

"I was gonna let it lie," Cap said.

"I'm sure you were," Tony replied.

"Am I interrupting something?" Loki asked, looking intrigued. "Lover's spat?"

Tony shot him in the face.

"Jesus!" Cap said.

"Relax, he's a god, he'll be fine," Tony said. Loki was looking dazed but otherwise unharmed as one of SHIELD's minijets landed, and Natasha Romanoff (big surprise, a pair of traitors working together) dragged him inside.

"You boys coming?" she drawled.

"I'm really sorry," Cap said.

"You people and your aliases," Tony said, rolling his eyes. "Into the jet. We can discuss it when Comrade Romanoff and the Sacred Cow are back at SHIELD." He let Cap get ahead of him, headed for the jet, and then grabbed his ass.

"Tony!" Cap yelped, whirling.

"Can't stay mad at dat ass," Tony said with a shrug. He grinned at Cap, who was blushing. "Come on, Cap. We'll get coffee, we'll talk it out. Not in front of the kids," he added, gesturing at Natasha and Loki.

"Yeah, okay," Cap said, face softening. "Good to see you looking good, Tony."

"I feel like I should say the same. Pretty spry for a ninety year old...."