Steve stalked the halls of the White House, trailing his fingertips along the wallpaper. Under his fingers, every bump and rough patch told a story. There was history there, worried into the dings and the stains, in the scent of vanilla and old wallpaper paste, the little corner where someone had surreptitiously stuck their gum. It had been removed, but the scent lingered. As he walked, his fingers touched a door, and his nostrils flared. Distantly, he recognized the sign saying Ladies, but he pushed it open anyway. He'd marked in every other one in the building; a sign wasn't going to stop him.
He hadn't been President long enough for the building to smell like him, hadn't been around enough to start the process. That had been a mistake, one that itched under his skin now that he recognized it for what it was. Trying to remember why he'd avoided it was hard, and actually making sense of the reasons was harder, so he just avoided thinking about it. It was his: his building, his territory, his country. And he'd make sure everyone knew.
He'd just finished in the third stall when a noise in the hall caught his attention. Steve paused, head cocked. There were voices—both familiar. Carol, dominant and assertive, marking her place without necessarily challenging for it. That was okay. It was good to have strong people at your back, even ones who pushed a little. The other voice, though...
Zipping himself up, Steve gave his hands a quick wash before sticking his head out into the hall. There was no one in sight, but footsteps were up the hall. Sinking down in the doorway to keep a low profile, he held his breath and listened.
"—been weird," Carol was saying, in the tones of someone facing unfair amounts of stress. "He makes a round of the bathrooms every day, even the women's and the private ones, and this morning he growled at me. Not just his usual stare, but he actually showed his teeth."
"Not to mention that he's here where the paperwork is, rather than out busting heads," the other voice replied. It dipped and swayed, never rose but always spoke as if it couldn't imagine being challenged. Steve's hackles rose, and he tensed. "You should have called me the second he showed up."
"I thought maybe he was taking a break from turning governors over his knee," Carol replied dryly. "And it's not like you don't have other things to worry about."
"I always have time to worry about Steve."
Steve's nostrils flared, scenting alcohol both expensive and cheap, medication, high end clothing and sickness. It was a scent he'd known for a long time, though never so strong, so unique. His eyes shuttered as he filtered through the various smells. There was a lifetime of information there to parse, but those were just layers, like clothing covering skin, hiding what was really there but still showing the shape underneath. The one Steve needed, the important one was all easy arrogance and authority, need and greed and selflessness and recklessness. It was the scent of someone who would push, who would wrap around Steve's life and try to take everything only to turn around and give it back. Not because he wanted it, or because it was special, but because it was Steve's.
Unless he was Steve's, too. That would solve everything.
Without thinking, Steve bolted down the hallway toward the scent, crouched low to the floor. Carol and Tony rounded the corner just in time for Steve's shoulder to impact with Tony's stomach.
Tony folded over with a grunt. Steve heard the click of the safety on Carol's gun coming off, but he'd already taken off down the hall, squirming prize in tow.
"Was that really necessary?" Tony demanded breathlessly as Steve rounded a corner, taking it close and fast enough that Tony's elbow scraped. They passed security who didn't even flinch anymore, and someone in a tidy uniform who screamed and ducked for cover.
"Yes." Steve hitched Tony higher and kept up his speed until he reached the Oval Office. It was well-protected, spacious and—most importantly—had enough cushions and things to make a decent nest, especially after he'd raided other rooms. Rugs, blankets, pillows, sofa cushions and everything else soft he could find had been piled into a safe nook behind the desk, where there was enough of a direct line to see the door but still safety behind the furniture.
Keeping Tony slung safely over his shoulder, Steve went to check the doors and windows. Bulletproof glass wasn't the best—Tony's company made that—but it would do, and the hallway was clear of anyone who might try and interfere. The security guards didn't try and come in anymore, since he'd threatened to arm wrestle them over it, but he wanted to be sure.
After making certain that the coast was clear, Steve dropped Tony down into the middle of the nest of striped cushions, then flopped down next to him, making sure to keep between Tony and the door. The nest was soft, and smelled like feathers and detergent, with just a hint of whatever cologne the cleaning man wore. If Steve settled just right, he could keep an eye on Tony and the door. Perfect.
Other men might have been shocked, but Tony just ruefully inspected the creased front of his blazer. He made a face and tried to smooth it out. "You know, you could have just asked," he commented lightly. "I know how to accept an invitation."
Snorting, Steve curled around one of the larger cushions and watched Tony through lazy eyes, always keeping part of his attention on the door. That wasn't worth responding to, not even to remind Tony that he usually did a good job of inviting himself.
Tony waited for the answer that wasn't coming, then shrugged and pushed himself upright. The sea of soft, squishy things made it difficult, so it took him a minute to find a position that wouldn't result in a slow sinking straight back into the worst of it. "Would you like to explain what this melodrama is about? I thought you were above kidnapping innocent businessmen."
Steve thought about it, then shook his head. He'd kidnapped plenty of businessmen in his time, and anyone calling Tony innocent could probably be expected to be struck down for such a huge lie. "No."
Once again, Tony waited, and Steve watched patiently. Tony had a wonderfully expressive face, was more communicative with his body language than most people were with their spoken one. It occurred to Steve that he could very nearly make out everything Tony was thinking just by the set of his shoulders and the way his back curled. That was nice. Good.
It was a good thing he was paying attention, because he saw the moment of decision, maybe even before Tony did. It passed through his eyes, flattened the line of his mouth. Tony's shoulders tightened, and Steve was on him before he could rise aother inch, sharp teeth pressed to the soft flesh of Tony's neck.
He growled. "Stay."
It was a battle not to bite, not to sink his teeth in and taste the poisoned blood in Tony's veins, the pills and the alcohol and whatever else was in him. Not the neck, instinct insisted. Tony wouldn't survive the neck, and Steve very much wants him to survive, wanted them to run, to not smell death nipping Tony's heels.
For a man who climbed into metal armor and regularly broke the sound barrier, Tony's survival instincts were good ones. He went still, neck coming up in submission rather than fighting to protect the vulnerable place. "I see you're just as verbal as always," Tony breathed, fear lacing his sweat with a sharp, sour reek. It never reached his voice. "You know, old chum, the last time you had fangs it didn't end so well for anyone. Mind talking about that?"
Fangs? Steve blinked, but let go of Tony's throat. Of course, Tony hadn't submitted properly, didn't go limp and apologetic, but that was probably the best Steve was going to get. If he wanted to wait until Tony accepted authority, they'd be there forever. "I don't have fangs."
"You do." They swayed together, Steve unwilling to move back and Tony trapped on an upward push. Tony ended up giving in, sinking down into nest. "Uppers and lowers, if you must know. And a bit of a facial hair issue, I didn't even know you could get sideburns." Tony sketched a gesture at his face.
The motion brought his hand close enough to Steve's face that he was able catch the hand between his chin and shoulder, dragging his cheek along it. Tony's eyes looked only a little wide when Steve moved from the hand to rub their cheeks together, leaving a strong swath of Steve's own scent on Tony's skin. He repeated it on the other side, then huffed a comfortable sigh and relaxed, leaning into Tony. It wasn't quite pinning Tony down, but about half of his chest ended up on Tony's, which would have the effect of preventing quick escape at least. And all the contact was making Tony smell like him. That was good. Right.
"Steve? Your eyes are red." Tony nudged his thigh with a knee. "What did you get up to over in California?"
It took a bit of thought. Tony's scent—not the layers over it, but the parts that were Tony—was blanketing his mind, wrapping it in fuzzy cotton. "There was a fight," he said, after a minute of struggle. "Post-humans. I won."
"Of course you did." One of Tony's hands ran over his hair. It was like bliss in a bottle. Steve's muscles turned to mush, sagging him down against Tony like a puppet with its strings cut. Tony let out a little grunt but, other than some wiggling to get comfortable, he didn't try to move. "Did they do anything?" Tony asked, scratching at a spot just behind Steve's ear that made his eyes want to roll back in his eyes. "Strange tranq darts, unusual poisons, suspicious science experiments..?"
Memory curled Steve's mouth into a frown. "The little one bit me. And then they ran away."
"And when was this?" Tony kept pushing, and pushing, and pushing, just like Steve knew he would. Not even the scratches would make up for it if he kept it up much longer.
"Mrm," Steve mumbled, nose wrinkling in annoyance. "Last Friday."
"Which was a full moon. Of course." Tony did a strange arch-wiggle-twist thing that had Steve growling and almost slipping off Tony's chest.
"I said stay—"
"I'm not going anywhere," Tony promised, relaxing back into the cushions and holding up the shiny red of his phone. His thumb flicked over the menus, dialing. "I'm just making a call. You don't mind, right?"
As a matter of fact, Steve very much minded, but he knew when to pick his battles. So he just buried his face back in the crook of Tony's neck and took a deep breath. Tony's heartbeat was soft, unafraid.
With his free hand, Tony started scratching again. "Carol, darling, it looks like werewolves. No, no, it shouldn't be too long. He got better after the vampire incident, didn't he?"
Carol said something that Steve felt too lazy to listen for, but the sharpness of her tone was unmistakable. It made Tony's scratching stop for a moment, until Steve curled his lip and growled impatiently. Then it started again, a little harder, and Steve could relax.
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Tony was saying. "We'll just keep him in here until he's over it. You can get takeout delivered to the White House, right?"