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In the Springtime of His Voodoo

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Steve has read all the files on Stark Industries, on Howard, on Obadiah, on Pepper Potts, and on Tony Stark. When he’d awakened from the ice, he’d had little to do but read while the U.S. Government decided what to do with him, although with the mountain of material he’d been given, it was obvious to Steve that they had at least some idea of what direction they intended to point him in.

Even with that, Steve has plenty of time to work out, eat and sleep, although maybe only that last because he doesn’t need very much in the way of sleep most days.

He sits in on high-ranking military meetings, most of them regarding Stark Industries, and if he isn’t quite sure why he’s there, he’s not complaining. It beats the two hours a day that someone from technical tries to drum modern-day technology into his head.

History is easier. They’ll give him any books he asks for, and some that he doesn’t. Careful comparisons are either terrifying or enlightening. The history books seem pretty straightforward, but the loosely bound folders they give him -- folders that supposedly cover the same years as the books -- tell things differently. Some of the things he understands omitting. Some of them make him sad or mad in alternating waves.

The signature on these alternate histories is always the same: Director Nick Fury, S.H.I.E.L.D.

Steve can’t decide if he should be grateful to Fury, or if he would be better off not knowing.

Steve goes through heavy bags at the rate of three or four a night, but no one complains.

No one says anything to Steve at all, really. There is a little interaction when he asks for things, but he eats alone in the cafeteria, and he gradually comes to realize that it’s not because people aren’t friendly. No, it’s him. He’s some kind of top secret project -- he has some experience in that -- but even then, it hadn’t been like this. The only recognition he really gets is from the cafeteria workers, who always seem to know what he’ll like, and set extra food aside for him

Even in the meetings with the military, no one solicits Steve’s opinion, and he doesn’t offer it. In his experience, most of the brass doesn’t want to hear the opinion of a lowly Captain, even if he is a super soldier that’s been trapped in ice for nearly seventy years.

It’s probably for the best. If asked, Steve would have said that Stark (Tony, that was, not Howard) had no obligation to take military contracts and every reason not to. Steve has seen the reports, he knows about Stane, he recognizes the leap Tony Stark had made from warmonger to technology mogul, and that didn’t even include Iron Man. He gets why the military wants some of that back, but he doesn’t think forcing the issue is the right way of going about it, and that’s what these meetings all boil down to. Controlling the Iron Man suit and forcing Tony Stark to play ball.

Or that’s what they boil down to until Steve finally meets the elusive Director Fury.

Everyone stands when he arrives, up to and including four star generals, so Steve stands, too. He tries not to be too aggravated that they haven’t even provided him with a uniform yet. Fury is a broad shouldered black man in a leather coat, no insignia, and he’s got a leather patch covering his left eye, scars starring out from around it.

“Colonel, we weren’t informed...” someone says -- Steve thinks he’s General Kurt, but can’t remember for sure. All he knows for sure is that for a colonel, Fury seems to be enjoying the attention of everyone in the room. Maybe Director is the key word here. Some things are different now. A Director is in charge of Homeland Security. Maybe this is something like that.

Steve hadn’t found out what SHIELD stood for anywhere in his reading.

Looking at Fury, Steve guesses something secret, covert in some way, and thus nonexistent to the world at large. While Steve doesn’t actually approve, he doesn’t entirely disapprove either. Intelligence leaks can lose wars, and he’s read enough about terrorism in the new modern age to see why an agency devoted to finding and keeping secrets might be needed.

“We’re talking about Stark again.” Fury says. It doesn’t sound like a question. Several generals mumble guiltily.

Fury looks at Steve. Looks straight at him, for what seems like the first time since he woke up. “And what do you think about Stark?”

“I think he’s a grown man that has the right to make his own decisions,” Steve finds himself saying, flatly and completely honestly. “I think if you want him to make weapons for you, you’re probably out of luck, but I haven’t come across anything he’s said that would indicate that he wouldn’t accept other kinds of contracts. Body armor upgrades. Better targeting systems. Advanced night vision goggles. Satellite communications. Things that would aid our men and women in the field, without killing anyone.”

Fury looks at him thoughtfully. “And the Iron Man armor?”

“Belongs to him,” Steve says shortly.

Fury stares at him for long enough that Steve actually feels like he’s in the military again; Steve maintains eye contact, but can’t quite keep himself from dropping into parade rest. It’s something that feels so natural and right that he wants to thank Fury for it. Fury nods abruptly.

“I’m removing Captain Rogers from this base, but not from active duty. I want him as SHIELD’s liaison to Stark Industries first and foremost. He’ll report directly to me, but I don’t have time to draw up contracts, so get your people to do that. Keep in mind the Captain’s suggestions. I’m not telling you not to ask for weapons, but I’m willing to bet he’s right on this one. Think out of the box, people. In the meantime, he’s both a representative of the U.S. Army and of SHIELD. Any contracts he manages to bag will come to me first. Get him uniformed and ready to go. I’ll take care of his housing situation.” He looks at Steve. “Any preferences?”

“Anything not underground,” Steve answers promptly.

“Doable,” Fury says. “As it is, your identity as Captain America is not public knowledge and it will remain that way until I say otherwise. That said, if you think you can get Tony Stark to work with you if you disclose that information, you have permission to do so.”

“Understood, sir,” Steve says, even as he’s weighing the option and deciding against it. From what he knows of Stark, which is, granted, all on paper, he doesn’t think it’ll matter one way or the other. But if it does matter, Steve doesn’t want him swayed by Captain America. He respects the stand the man is making. He hopes he can mitigate some of his hostility toward the military in order to gain things that aren’t ordinance, but he doesn’t want to pull out Captain America like some paper doll in order to make that happen.

As it is, Captain America is behind him now. Steve isn’t stupid enough to think he won’t ever be needed again, but for now, Captain Rogers is good. Better than he’d hoped for, really.

“You have two days,” Fury tells the generals, who all exchange slightly unhappy looks, but nod.

It’s two days of uniform fittings and contract paperwork for Steve, who doesn’t mind it a bit. It’s something different, something other than the reading, eating, working out, and sleeping he’s been doing for months, and while the super soldier serum doesn’t actually require him to work out to maintain muscle mass, that’s not why he does it. He doesn’t feel underexercised in body, but in mind, despite all the reading and catching up that he still doesn’t feel like he’s done. He isn’t used to being idle.

He’s visited on the evening of the second day, four new uniforms, custom-fitted, hanging in his closet, by a four star general -- Baker? Barker? -- and handed both a thick sheath of documents and a broad, wide case to keep them in. “The case is bulletproof, waterproof, and fireproof,” he tells Steve, while he shows him how to input the locking code. “We’re working on another batch, but this should keep him busy for a couple of days.” He looks Steve in the eye, his expression thunderously serious. “You do whatever it takes to get him to sign those contracts, Captain. That’s a direct order.”

Steve doesn’t blink -- he never blinks in the face of direct orders -- but he feels himself mentally pulling back from the general’s hard stare.

He considers taking the matter to Fury, but since Steve isn’t actually sure how to contact Fury, and isn’t the type to fall back on his C.O. under any circumstances, so he says, “Yes, sir,” and assumes that it’s a general order, not a specific one. What can Steve actually do? Torture him? Of course, that’s out of the question. The general means do whatever he can do. The alternative is... well, Steve can’t really think of an acceptable alternative.


Fury shows up at ten in the morning to take Steve, his four uniforms, the briefcase, and a gym bag full of underwear and jeans and t-shirts (most with slogans on them that Steve didn’t recognize) to a spacious third floor studio apartment about ten minutes away from Stark Tower. The summer light from five floor to ceiling windows is gorgeous, and Steve’s fingers already itch for charcoal or a paint brush.

Fury shows him around perfunctorily, but not hurriedly. Steve has furniture, all of it neat and from a decade that he remembers. He has a full sized claw foot bathtub with a shower attachment and a medicine cabinet full of aspirin and band aids and shaving cream and toothpaste. There is a small floral arrangement on the tank of the toilet.

There’s an easel, a big one, leaning against one wall, and a stack of canvases in all shapes and sizes. There are half a dozen sketch pads and a wooden box that contains every medium he might want to work in.

He looks at Fury, questioning. “It was all in your file,” he says, as though it’s nothing.

Steve swallows past the lump in his throat and asks, “How do I get in touch with you?”

Fury considers him. “You get the feeling that you can’t make your way up the chain of command to me?” He sounds genuinely curious.

Steve frowns a little, and finally says, “I think the chain of command has its own goals. Nominally, their goals are my goals, but I suspect that your goals are the ones I should really be actuating.”

Fury smiles a little. “You know, all your reports on tactics and strategy made it plain as day that you were neither stupid nor naive, but honestly, you’re just too damned pretty.”

Steve flushes, but he’s had that reaction before, so he just inches out a nod.

Fury pulls a phone out his pocket. Steve recognizes it, at least generally. Several different technical people had tried to teach him to use one, but since there was apparently a huge variety, Steve had never picked it up.

“This is phone full of who to call, in order of importance.” Fury shows it to Steve and then quietly and patiently explains how to make calls on it. “Stark is number one on your list. Then me, and then Agent Coulsen, and then Maria Hill. That’s it for SHIELD people. The rest are the generals making up contracts. If you have advice for them on what to ask for, call them. If you actually get a signed contract, call SHIELD, any one of us three. The phone does other things, too, but if I was you, I’d get Stark to teach you how to really use it. At the very least, it’ll give you something to talk about.”

Steve nods, locks the phone how Fury had showed him, and sits it on the bar that separates the kitchen from the living room. “Is he expecting me?”

“Technically, he’s expecting SHIELD, but you’re close enough. 11:30.”

“Yes, sir,” Steve says.

“And Rogers,” Fury adds thoughtfully. “We want Stark on friendly terms with SHIELD. He isn’t for or against us yet, and I don’t expect you to do anything untoward to make that happen. Just be yourself. He’s a genius, and his people skills are questionable, but he’s been trying.” Trying what, Fury doesn’t say, but Steve nods anyway. “Settle in a little, but don’t be late.”

“Yes, sir,” Steve agrees, and Fury leaves.

Steve doesn’t actually take the time to settle in. He goes straight for his uniform, and finds himself just as quick and easy with it as he ever had been. There are changes, different fabric, different cut, but it’s essentially the same uniform, and he doesn’t encounter any problems until he realizes that the number of ribbons on his coat are really ridiculous. He’d nix some of them, but he can’t quite bypass his hardwiring of uniform code, and eventually just settles back and lets them be as god awful ostentatious as they really are.

Then he opens up the briefcase and goes through the contracts, mostly skimming, and separates them into three piles: likely, maybe, and almost certainly not. He sighs when he realizes that the last stack is at least as twice as thick as the other two put together. He stacks them in order of probability and locks them back into the case.

He’s got twenty-two minutes to get to Stark Tower, which is only a leisurely ten minutes away, but he’s got pre-mission jitters, so he locks his new apartment and strolls in the correct direction. He doesn’t see another man in uniform on the entire walk, which he supposes makes sense. The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan are ongoing, but the military isn’t recruiting for them. It’s nothing like World War II. He sees people looking at him, though, some with respect, some with interest, and more than a few with what certainly appears to be disgust.

Steve ignores it. He’s proud of his service, and the fact that others look down on it is no skin off his nose.

The foyer of Stark Tower is a vastly enormous, vastly empty place, the only sign of life a petite redhead gal behind a huge desk. Steve doesn’t see how she gets anything done until he gets closer, and sees that the front of the desk is more like a counter, and hides her smaller desk completely.

“Good morning, sir,” she says with a bright white smile, all while she’s checking him over like he’s a dog she’s thinking about buying. Steve manages not to blush, but it’s a close thing. “How can I help you?” She licks her glossy red lips.

“I’m Captain Steve Rogers. I have a meeting with Mr. Stark on behalf of SHIELD.” He hands his I.D. over the counter before she can ask for it. Until right that moment, it hadn’t occurred to Steve to wonder what they’d put under Date of Birth.

Apparently something acceptable, as she smiles and hands it back. Her finger slips up to her ear, and Steve sees she has a little radio in it half-hidden by her hair. “I have Mr. Stark’s 11:30,” she says and pauses. “Captain Steve Rogers, on behalf of SHIELD.” She smiles at him while she says it. Steve smiles back because it seems like the thing to do.

Lack of experience, partly, but also lack of context. Her smile is perplexing and faintly possessive. Steve doesn’t really want it pointed at him, but being polite to a lady is second nature to him. He finds it easier if he thinks of her as a mother of five.

“You can go right up, Captain,” she says, and gestures in the direction of the elevator. “Mr. Stark’s office is on the 85th floor. It’s the only room on that floor. You can’t miss it.”


She’s absolutely right. He can not miss it. The sign on the opaque frosted door merely says: “Stark.”

Steve switches the briefcase from his right hand to his left and walks down the short corridor, his shoes sinking into the deep pile of the carpet. There are no pictures on the walls to soften the place. It actually seems designed to do the exact opposite.

Steve steels himself for Tony Stark, whom he has read all about, but feels barely prepared to meet, the two contrasting orders he’d been given ringing in his head. Fury’s careful caution that Steve doesn’t need to do anything to try to make Stark SHIELD-friendly, and the general’s direct order to get the contracts he’s carrying signed by any means possible.

He raises his hand and knocks.

There’s no noise from inside, but the door opens and Steve walks into the huge room that looks more like a computer lab than an office. There’s a desk and an office chair, but Stark is standing facing the right wall several feet from the desk, where something blue and electric is dancing around in time with his fingertips.

“New SHIELD liaison, hi,” Stark says without looking up. “I’ll be right...” And then he does look up, and his eyes widen. Steve isn’t sure what exactly that look means, but he’s still kind of glad to see it. He’s getting tired of people not looking at him. “JARVIS, hold program.”

“Yes, sir,” JARVIS says, and Steve doesn’t jump because he’s read about JARVIS, too.

Stark’s eyes go slightly wider, and then narrow, wandering up and down Steve in a way that’s not all that different than the secretary downstairs had done. This feels a little less perplexing and there is less possessiveness in Stark’s gaze, but Steve knows when he’s being checked out. He might not have a lot of experience beyond that, but he’s not an imbecile. Mostly it seems to be just honest admiration, which somehow makes it harder not to blush than if it had been something more inappropriate.

But people have been checking him out since the super soldier serum. Steve keeps his chin up and tries to ignore it. It usually isn’t that hard to ignore anymore.

Something about how still Stark has gone and how intently he measures Steve with his eyes, makes it harder. His face heats a little, but that he’s able to ignore.

Steve has seen pictures of Tony Stark. He has to admit, they don’t really do him justice. Even as still as he is at the moment, there’s something kinetic about him, something Steve thinks he might like to try to draw sometime.

“So,” Stark says finally, and walks around his desk to what seems to be a fully stocked wet bar. “U.S. Army. I wouldn’t have expected that. Drink?”

On duty regs still apply, but alcohol has no effect on Steve, and he thinks Stark is using the bar as an excuse to think, so he says, “Thank you. I like smooth scotch and rough bourbon.” It’s absolutely true, and Steve isn’t sure why Stark tips his face in Steve’s direction and smirks.

“Ice?” he asks.

“Yes for scotch, no for bourbon.” Stark’s lip twitches, but he just brings a pair of crystal tumblers over and sets them on the corner of the desk, ice clinking a little against the crystal.

Stark studies Steve’s chest for a few seconds, gaze glittering. “That’s a whole lot of bling for a Captain. Especially your age.”

“I’m older than I look,” Steve says, not quite able to keep the dryness out of his tone.

Stark quirks a brow and says, “If I’m not mistaken, that medal of valor and purple heart are posthumus.”

His eyes tick up to Steve’s face, and Steve is glad not to have to lie. “Well, they thought I was dead at the time. I don’t think it occurred to anyone to change the ribbons once I made it back.”

Stark’s eyes crinkle up in an apparently genuine smile. “The devil is in the details,” he says. “It’s still a lot of decoration.”

For whatever reason, Steve tells the truth. “I know. I haven’t been in full dress uniform since I went down in combat. I didn’t really realize how ridiculous they were getting.” He tries a smile. Stark smiles back.

“So. You’re Army, but for some reason Fury trusts you enough to send you after me. What exactly did you do for the Army and SHIELD before this assignment?” Tony looks truly interested.

This had been comprehensively covered in briefings, but Steve had carefully rephrased it to avoid actively lying.

“I’m not at liberty to convey classified information, but I was involved in battlefield operations and intelligence gathering and tactical strikes on enemy strongholds.” It’s not a lie. It’s a deflection that spans decades.

Stark doesn’t look surprised. “But you aren’t desert burned, so you’ve been home for a while.”

“I’ve been recuperating and being debriefed,” Steve says honestly, though he’s not entirely sure about the ‘home’ part of that sentence.

“And briefed,” Stark says, gesturing to the case.

“Yes, sir,” Steve agrees.

“And, that, um, no. Tony. Tony is fine. Tony is better than fine; it’s perfect. Are you Captain Rogers, or Steve?”

“Whatever makes you comfortable,” Steve says honestly. “I’m good either way. Do you differentiate between Tony Stark and Iron Man?”

Tony gives a microscopic blink of surprise, and then shakes his head. “Not where it matters.”

“Same,” Steve says. “Maybe different aspects, but I’m not ashamed of either.”

“Interesting,” Tony says, and moves behind the desk to sit down. Steve remains standing. He’s not sure if he should be offended or possibly a little flattered. Tony Stark can’t keep his eyes to himself. Steve is starting to understand why all those people had taken a chance, even knowing Stark’s reputation as a playboy. “So, you never answered my question, Captain. I’ve had military liaisons before and SHIELD liaisons before, but I’ve never gotten the vibe that one man could fill both roles. So what makes you special?”

Steve would like the shrug the question off, but suspects he won’t get anywhere without a fairly comprehensive answer.

“I can’t answer to the motivations of everyone involved,” he says truthfully. “I can tell you they gave me your life story to read basically as soon as I could sit up. I sat in on high-ranking military briefings about you, the suit, and SI in general without being asked to actually participate, so I know what the High Ranking Military Structure wants from you. Mostly, they want to find some kind of loophole or tightrope wire that will force you to make weapons for them again. Then Director Fury showed up in one of the meetings and asked me what I thought about it. I really intended to say that I had no opinion on the matter,” Steve admits.

“But you did,” Tony says, grinning a little.

“Apparently,” Steve agrees wryly. “I basically disagreed with every method they had about making you play ball, suggested some research and development areas in which you might be willing to fund or develop to keep our people on the ground safe. I don’t know what exactly it was that I said. I only know that Director Fury gave me two days to get uniformed and ready and gave the Army two days to produce contracts for you to look at. And here I am.” He shrugs. “It all happened kind of quickly.”

“Hmm,” Tony says. “And the briefcase? Fury or Army?”

“Army,” Steve says. “Director Fury indicated that he didn’t have time to draft anything but emergency contracts, so you’re going to have to keep slapping the military down for a while.”

“Take off your coat and hang your hat,” Tony says abruptly. He gestures toward a garment rack just inside the door. He hesitates, and Tony says, “We’ll probably be at this a while. You might as well be comfortable.” And the coat is a little overwarm, really.

Steve can’t really think of a good argument for that; he just has a deep twinge of feeling that stripping off his military trappings might not be in his own best interests. Still, it’s nebulous, that feeling, so Steve shrugs obediently out of his coat and hangs it with his hat tucked over the collar.

A second chair has appeared across from Tony’s desk, which Tony waves him into, shoving Steve’s drink closer to the edge of the desk. Tony knocks back a swallow of his drink and watches Steve over the rim of his glass as Steve settles into the most comfortable piece of furniture he has ever encountered. Tony grins. “I know, they’re the best chairs. I save them for people I actually want to talk to. Everyone else gets backless stools that are never quite the right height.”

Steve huffs out a surprised laugh.

“JARVIS, blackout for … ninety minutes. Key to your own name.”

“Sir, I believe you have several appointments....” JARVIS begins.

“No, yes, I know that. They’ll wait for me to be done with the Captain here, or they can reschedule something at least eight weeks from now. Cue blackout now.”

Nothing actually happens, though Steve looks around expectantly.

“Security blackout,” Tony says. “Kills communications, video, and audio surveillance. Sometimes handy for top secret stuff. Or if I need a nap. Or a blowjob.”

Steve flushes. It’s not that he hadn’t known to be ready for Tony to say totally inappropriate things, but it’s more about the casual way that he does it.

Tony’s lip quirks, but he surprises Steve by not making fun. “So, you’re essentially in a tug of war between Fury and the Army. They can both tell you what to do, up to and including conflicting orders, and you’re in no position to object. What did Fury tell you to do?”

“He told me to liaison with you on behalf of SHIELD, so any contract you sign goes through him first. He also told me you were neutral regarding SHIELD as far as he knew, and that he’d like that relationship to be more amicable, but that I was not responsible for making that happen.”

Tony leans forward across this desk. “And the Army?”

“I have direct orders to get you to sign contracts for them by any means possible.” Steve tips his head. “Not honestly sure what they actually expect me to do, aside from be as persuasive as possible, but if you’re thinking the orders sound pretty ominous, you’re right.”

Tony links his fingers below his chin. “Did you look at the contracts?”

“Yes,” Steve says unapologetically. “Some of them were my suggestions, though there’s still a pretty thick stack in there that are probably not going to happen.”

Tony cocks an eyebrow. “Sure about that?”

“Relatively,” Steve says confidently.

“So how did you sort them?” Tony asks, looking amused again.

“Likely, maybe, and almost certainly not,” Steve admits, and blushes a little as Tony rocks his head back and laughs.

“You’re adorable, I’ll give you that,” Tony says, giving Steve a measuring look. “Let’s get down to actual business.” He says it with the same kind of predatory smile the secretary downstairs had given Steve, only Tony’s is way more effective. “You want something from me, and I’m willing to wager on your judgment on the ‘likely’ contracts. I’ll sign all of them in that category, provided you give me something of equal worth in return.”

Steve considers that, surprised, but also a little baffled. “I don’t have anything of equal worth,” he says finally.

“Worth is entirely calculated in the mind of the man who wants something,” Tony says. He’s looking amused again, but his eyes are very dark, and his smile is sharp.

“I’m not getting you,” Steve says, but then something turns over in his mind and he realizes he’s seen this expression on Tony before. He still doesn’t get why his briefing materials had had nearly nude photoshoots from various magazines in them, but the look on his face. He’s seen that.

Tony’s eyes go a little darker and he licks his lips. “I know. That’s at least half the fun.”

Steve isn’t sure what to do faced with this... whatever this is. He hears himself say, “Prostitution is illegal, Mr. Stark.”

“Think of it more like a barter system, Captain,” Tony says, eyes half-lidded as he watches Steve. “You get to follow orders, like a good soldier. And I get to spend the next seventy-eight minutes doing unspeakable things to you.”

Steve feels like he should be explaining to Stark that being sexually manipulated doesn’t equal being a good soldier, and also that he has so little experience as to be laughably subpar for a man of Tony Stark’s wide and varied tastes, but he is also considering the contracts, not in the ‘be a good soldier’ kind of way, but in a ‘save American lives’ kind of way. And, if he’s going to be completely honest with himself, he’s half-hard in his uniform pants. He isn’t sure he likes this or even wants this, but he’s not entirely sure that he doesn’t either.

And there’s something else. Some kind of boundary of authority he’s straddling that roils darkly in his belly, something that isn’t quite desire or fear, but a little of both. If he puts himself in Tony Stark’s power, however temporarily.... Well, the idea scares him to death at the same time as it slithers hotly under his skin.

“If we do this,” Steve says, his voice a little breathy to his own ears, “then we do it once, under these conditions. If it ever does happen again, I will want some kind of... agreement before I just...”

Tony is smiling now. “Smart,” he says. “I like that, and I agree. This time, my rules, my desires. Next time, we can work things out.” He shrugs one shoulder. “I’d let you negotiate this time, but it’s clear that you have no idea what you’d be negotiating for.”

Steve slumps back in his chair, because that’s entirely true. He has no idea what he’s doing. He barely knows enough to assume that there will be a next time, because if he manages signatures on even some of those contracts, both Fury and the Army will be sure he stays on liaison duty indefinitely.

“Get up,” Tony says, voice a little sharp, and Steve does it automatically because it sounds like an order, and he’s conditioned to obey orders. “Undress,” Tony says, and Steve’s hands are on his tie before he even thinks about it. He slows down a little once he does, really considers the situation, and then crosses the room to the garment rack to hang everything up. He leaves his shoes and socks in front of it, and tries hard not to blush as he crosses the room back to Tony’s desk.

He knows he has nothing to be ashamed of. Not anymore. But he can’t always remember that easily.

“Look at you,” Tony says, standing and circling the desk to stand so close to him that Steve can feel the heat of his body. Tony traces the line of Steve’s chest down to his abs, and then circles around him, making Steve tense up involuntarily. “How did you manage all those medals without picking up a single scar?” Tony sounds wondering, but not suspicious.

“SHIELD has things for scarring,” Steve says, a suspected truth, but not a confirmed one.

Tony just says, “I’m sure they do,” sounding distracted as he says it. His hands land on Steve’s shoulders and sweep down the lengths of his arms, then back up to his back to sweep down again until his fingertips sweep across the top of Steve’s ass. Steve shivers and pulls a little away. Tony cups his hips in his hands and presses his fully clothed front to Steve’s naked back. Steve can feel the bulge in Tony’s pants pressed up against him. More confused heat pools in his groin, and he’d like to object, but he’s already agreed, and he’s not a liar. Tony’s fingers ruffle the hair at the base of his neck and then creep down to cup a hand around the back of Steve’s neck.

“This way,” Tony says, voice a mixture of sleek and rough, and when Tony pushes, Steve walks around the end of Tony’s desk until they’re standing behind it.

“What about you?” Steve asks, voice dry and harsh. Tony pushes his still untouched scotch toward Steve’s hand and Steve downs it in one long, cool swallow.

“What about me, what?” Tony asks, amused.

“What about your clothes?” Steve asks. Tony is silent for so long that Steve looks over his shoulder. Tony appears to be considering the matter. The look he gives Steve is opaque.

“Are you asking because you want to see me naked, or because you’ll feel more comfortable if I’m not still fully clothed?”

Steve considers that as honestly as he can -- and he’s having a hard time, with his cock half hard and his mind spinning at this unexpected turn of events -- and says, “Both, I think.”

Tony gives him a winning smile, eyes crinkling at the corners, genuine as far as far as Steve can tell. “I appreciate the compliment,” he says, and touches the corner of Steve’s mouth with a fingertip. “But I think I’ll keep the advantage on this one.”

Steve doesn’t say anything. Tony does take his suit coat off, and hangs it over the back of his desk chair, which he then rolls out of the way. He puts his hand on the back of Steve’s neck again, and guides him forward until his thighs bump the edge of the desk. The pressure doesn’t relent at that, and after a moment of confusion, Steve stops fighting it and lets Tony bend him over the top of his desk. His hot face feels good against the cool wood, but he’s shiveringly aware of how he must look.

“Hmm,” Tony says, and then nudges Steve’s feet apart until his whole chest is pressed against the desk, and his hipbones press against the edge. “Put your hands up,” Tony says. “Hold onto the edge of the desk.”

Steve does this silently, trying desperately not to think.

“Have you ever done this?” Tony asks, voice an odd amalgam of business-like and curious.

“No,” Steve tells him.

“No, not this exactly, or no, not anything with a guy before? Qualify and quantify, Captain Rogers.” Now he sounds amused.

Steve tips his face so that his forehead is against the desk and says, reigning his voice in tightly, “I’ve been at war since I was eighteen, Mister Stark. Whatever you’re asking if I’ve done, the answer is no.”

There is a long silence, and then he hears Tony pouring another drink.

“No, full stop,” Tony says. Steve can’t figure out his tone. “No girlfriends or mutual handjobs. No sexual experience at all.” It’s still not a question, so Steve doesn’t answer. “High school?” he eventually asks.

“No,” Steve sighs. “I was... weedy. I didn’t fill out until later.” That, at least, is the truth.

“Don’t call me Mister Stark,” Tony says, which makes Steve want to huff with exasperation. Steve half-sees, half-senses Tony reach to one side of Steve and down out of his line of sight, and his hand comes back curled around a tube and a foil packet. The lube he sets to one side. He drops the condom in front of Steve’s face. “Here’s something to negotiate. I’m clean and I have the documents to prove it, but I’ll understand if you still want a latex barrier. Since you don’t strike me as a user of needles, and since we’ve established that your sexual history is a blank state, you get to make the call on this one.”

Steve takes a breath and forces his heart rate to something more normal. He doesn’t manage it, but it gives him the fortitude to ask the question he’s really wondering, instead of just opting for the rubber automatically. “What’s the difference?” He can hear the shy uncertainty in his own voice as soon as it’s out, and isn’t sure whether or not he wants to take it back.

Tony is a weird mix of behaviors that Steve can’t consolidate into any one character. The fact that he’ll manipulate Steve this way is obviously not a pro, but the fact that he isn’t already using Steve like a two dollar whore also says something about him. That he’d asked about Steve’s experience. The condom. The way he’d said almost plainly that Steve’s confusion was half the fun. The way he looks at Steve.

He doesn’t think he imagines the little hitch of breath from behind him, but he isn’t sure what that means, either.

“Partly it blocks sensation, so neither you nor I will feel all of the friction of the act.” His voice is concise now, almost lecturing. “Partly it’s psychological, a safety feature, which people of both genders use, even if they aren’t needed for STD protection or birth control, in order to clarify a sexual relationship as short-term. The thing I don’t like about them -- and don’t get me wrong, I’m highly in favor of sexual protection any time there is any doubt about needing it -- but. Whether I’m pitching or catching, I like to feel it when I come in my partners body, I like to mark my territory, or have my own territory marked, if you’re following the metaphor. Barebacking is... intimate. A layer of latex doesn’t mean it can’t be intimate, but it removes some of the immediacy of that intimacy.”

Steve considers that. “You, uh, ‘catch?’”

“Sometimes,” Tony says, sounding darkly amused again.

Steve considers that, too, and then dismisses it as unimportant to the present situation. “And you give me your promise that you’re clean?”

“I do,” Tony says, voice deeper and richer now, no trace of amusement.

“Then leave it,” Steve says a little hoarsely. It’s his first time. Chances are that if he does this again, the condoms will become necessary. But. This is his first time, and he believes Tony.

Tony plucks the condom away and makes it disappear. There’s a flat plastic click sound that, while Steve has never actually heard it, he finds he can identify as the tube of lube being opened. Tony puts a hand between Steve’s shoulder blades, pushing him gently back down before Steve had even been aware that he was pushing up. Steve lets it, though he’s clear that he can stop Tony Stark at any time that he wants to. He wouldn’t stand a chance against Steve’s advanced physicality. In spite of Iron Man, Tony Stark himself is as human as the next guy.

“Be quiet, now,” Tony murmurs, stroking his hand down Steve’s back. “I talk a lot, and I like to talk while I fuck. You shouldn’t take anything I say personally unless it gets you off, in which case make sure to let me know. I’m happy to tailor-make your sexual monologue. Otherwise, you’re not required to participate, again, unless you find yourself running at the mouth as well, which would be fine. But for the moment, be quiet, because I’m going to open you up, and I don’t plan on hurting you, Captain.”

“I’m not afraid of it hurting,” Steve blurts, and then wishes he’d just shut up as he’d been told. He can’t imagine what possessed him to try to comfort Tony Stark about that.

Tony doesn’t say anything. He runs warm, slick fingers down the cleft of Steve’s ass, gentle and exploratory, until he reaches Steve’s hole, which he presses against gently. Steve tenses helplessly, but his cock is still half hard, and he isn’t sure what to think of that. Tony presses again, then just rubs a fingertip around Steve’s opening. “What are you afraid of, then?” Tony asks silkily, and nudges at Steve’s hole again, as if citing an example. His fingers slide away, and come back again slicker and cooler. Steve lets out a soft gasp and feels his whole body shudder at once. He doesn’t realize that Tony has managed to slip a finger inside him until he feels Tony drawing it slowly back, and then pressing it in again. “You’re afraid you’ll like it,” Tony says roughly, because he’s a genius, of course. Steve feels like he should sound smug, but he doesn’t. Just... intent. “You’re afraid you’ll like it, and you won’t be able to hide it.”

And he isn’t afraid of that, exactly. Because he’s already pretty sure he’s going to like it, but Tony’s right: he definitely doesn’t want everyone on the planet to know about it.

Steve doesn’t say anything, but hears his breath rush out when Tony works his finger into Steve more deeply, even a little roughly, so that it burns a little inside. Steve’s cock is fully hard now, and he can feel moisture slicking the tip. He’s always gotten really wet when he was randy. He hadn’t realized it was unusual until Bucky had explained to him the reason behind using hand lotion to jerk off. Steve had never needed hand lotion.

“I have to tell you, whomever your superiors are, they’ve been woefully neglecting their duties. If I had this ass under my direct command, I’d keep it wide open and just wet enough that I could pull you into my office and slide my cock into you whenever I wanted,” Tony muses, voice like husky velvet pulling at nerves nestled at the base of his belly. Steve tries not to do anything, but he can’t quite keep his breathing steady, and Tony chuckles a little. He circles Steve’s hole with another finger, slippery and careful right up until he pushes it in alongside the first. Steve grates out a little harsh sound that is mostly air at the burn, but his cock jerks and he can feel his fingers biting into the edge of the desk.

His body wants to be doing something, but he doesn’t know what, so he stays still and lets Tony press both fingers into him, steady and slow for a few seconds, and then harder and harsher.

“Deep breath, Captain,” Tony murmurs, and Steve hadn’t realized he’d been holding his breath, and then Tony turns his hand and slides his fingers in a little roughly, and there is a bright, almost staggering pulse of pleasure like bright white light behind Steve’s eyes. He makes some kind of sound, something that makes his throat feel raw, and Tony says, “That’s right, that’s good, now just be still and take it for me.”

Lust lunges up into his belly at that, but Steve doesn’t move while Tony pushes in again and again, that bright jolt of pleasure shocking every time, it doesn’t relent or subside, and when Tony presses a hand between his shoulder blades again, Steve doesn’t even have it in him to be mortified at the understanding that he’s doing it to keep Steve still, that Steve had been rocking his hips back in want of that fierce pleasure. All he can do is whine a little, while Tony murmurs, “That’s it, be still, I want you still while I fuck you,” and Steve’s throat vaporlocks as he comes, his cock swinging freely below the edge of the desk. “God,” Tony says, voice a little unsteady. “Look how pretty you are, coming for just my fingers, someone is definitely not doing their job, leaving you so pristine and needy.” Tony presses in a third finger, which burns a little, but Steve feels far more relaxed, and it barely hurts at all. He just strokes into Steve for most of a minute, breathing heavily and holding Steve down, the firm weight in the middle of his back doing as much for Steve as the fingers inside him.

He starts to get hard again almost immediately. The serum he guesses, because from what he can tell, men his age don’t just rebound from one erection to the next. His balls feel a little sore, but he wants, what he really wants is to come with someone elses hand on his cock. He doesn’t know how to ask Tony for that, so he pants and presses back a little, Tony’s palm weighty and insistent, which he could get past easily, except that he doesn’t want to. Tony’s hand on his back feels like an anchor, and Steve needs an anchor, especially when Tony turns his hand and he’s rocked again by a wave of vicious pleasure. He moans, hears himself do it. Not a muddled sound, nothing confusing about it. A sound of want, and Tony’s hand presses him down harder to the desk as he pushes his fingers into Steve again and again, until Steve is moaning out loud at every push, and Tony is telling him that he’s perfect and gorgeous and, “I can’t wait to get my cock inside you, I am going to push you wide open and make you take it, stretch you out and ride you hard, and you’re going to yowl for me, Captain, you’re going to be raw and hot and begging for it.”

Steve wants that, and he can feels tears on his face without understanding why they’re there, and he still can’t rock back onto Tony’s fingers, but his body must do something, so he tightens down on them instead, like he’s trying to hold them in, and Tony hitches out a breath -- this time Steve understands what it means -- and then pulls all fingers free of Steve’s hole at once. The hand vanishes from the middle of his back, and Steve says, “Why, please,” without any control over his mouth whatsoever.

“Just a minute, sweetheart,” Tony says soothingly, “Just be still and wait for me,” and Steve does because Tony told him to, and he knows this is not a good thing for their working relationship, but the time to worry about that is long past, and Steve wants to do what Tony tells him to do.

And then something slick and hot is pressing against Steve’s hole and Steve doesn’t have to guess what it is. He tightens his grip on the desk and shivers there, waiting and panting, and Tony says, “That’s it, that’s exactly it; stay right there,” and presses forwards all at once, one long dragging slide that is both painful and the most erotic thing Steve has ever felt, and Steve hears himself hitching in breaths of his own, quick and useless, until Tony’s hand settles on his back again, and Steve takes a deep, wracking breath that spills out as little helpless sounds. Tony feels huge, he feels ten times as wide as his fingers, and that slide had been long, or had it only felt long, Steve doesn’t know, can’t tell. The only thing he’s sure of is that the bare fronts of Tony’s thighs are pressed against the bare backs of Steve’s, and something about that contact is enough to rattle words out of Steve.

“Touch me, Tony, please, I... I can’t, I want to come with you touching me,” and Tony lets out a little growl and leans down, wrapping a hand around Steve’s cock.

“Gorgeous,” he says. “Perfect.” And rocks his hips gently, hand much rougher on Steve’s cock, and Steve goes still and quivering until Tony rocks his hips gently again, and then shouts out his pleasure as he shudders in Tony’s hand. “Yeah, God, come on my cock, you are fucking amazing, I could fuck you forever.” Tony rocks forward again, just once, and then his hands are both on Steve’s hips, one of them slick with Steve’s come, and he’s pulling back, yes, a long slide back, and then shoving back in so hard that Steve groans and sees stars. He is sore, he realizes, but it’s not bad, not even enough to impinge on the pleasure of Tony fucking into him, “God, you’re tight, how are you still so fucking tight, going to loosen you up, going to leave you open wide, fuck you loose and leave my come in your ass,” and Tony had been right, he is raw and hot, and he doesn’t doubt that he’s going to beg for it.

“Tell me you want that,” Tony demands, one hand abruptly tightly fisted in Steve’s hair. “Tell me that you want me to use your ass until I’m done with it, tell me you’ll take it all for me, tell me you want to feel me come inside you.”

Steve doesn’t tell him that. Not exactly. He means to, but when he opens his mouth, he actually says, “Fuck me, fuck me, fuck my cherry ass. Do it until I can’t take anymore, use me, do it harder, make me take it, come inside me while I’m helpless and can’t stop you.” He bites his lip, because he senses there might be more, but Tony growls and snaps his hips forward even harder.

“Beautiful, my God, you don’t even know,” Tony groans into his ear. “I could live on you for days, breathe for you, I can’t believe, you’re so good, that’s right, take it like that, just like I want, you’re so good for me,” and then Tony bites down on his neck, where the tendon meets the shoulder, and pulls Steve’s hair, and shifts his hips a little, and then he’s pounding against the place that he’d pressed his fingers against, pounding against it with brutal intent, and Steve is letting out gasping cries, tears leaking from his eyes again, and Tony says, “Right now, Captain, I’m going to come and I want you to feel it right now.”

Steve goes still and silent as he can, and Tony groans deep in his chest, his hips slamming erratically against Steve’s ass, and then he feels the way Tony shudders, jerking out a little cry, and his cock jerks inside Steve, and he isn’t sure what the feel of it is, except then he does, everything slick and wet and hot, and Steve moans softly, still shuddering under Tony.

Tony drops down to his elbows on the surface of the desk and pants softly against Steve’s shoulder. After a long moment, he drops his forehead onto Steve’s back and licks at his sweaty skin. Steve shivers harder. His cock is as hard as iron again, but this time he’s a little embarrassed by it. Surely three orgasms is a little on the greedy side. And it’ll go down if he turns his mind to something else.

But it’s hard to do with Tony, his crisp dress shirt now damp with sweat, still lying half-atop Steve while his cock is still pressed into Steve’s ass. Tony straightens up slowly, pulling carefully out of Steve, but doesn’t immediately let Steve up. Instead, he spreads the cheeks of Steve’s ass with both hands, calluses catching a little on abused flesh, and Steve’s cock jerks and spits precome onto the floor between his feet.

“Just beautiful,” Tony murmurs. “Here, turn around.”

Steve’s fingers don’t seem to want to release the edge of the desk, but he pries them loose and turns around slowly, excruciatingly aware of his erection.

Tony’s gaze lingers on it for a few long seconds, and then he turns Steve bodily and presses him into Tony’s desk chair. Steve slumps into it, only now aware of how trembly his knees feel, and Tony pulls him forward so that his ass is right on the edge of the seat, the leather of the chair squealing a little protest as Steve’s sweaty skin is dragged along it. When Steve looks at Tony, Tony is looking back, face serious.

“How sore are you?” he asks.

Steve shifts experimentally. “Raw, but not actually hurt.”

Tony arches his brows.

“I know what it feels like to be dangerously wounded. I’m not. Besides.” He tips his head towards his cock. “I’m pretty sure that’s a decent barometer of my health and well-being.”

“Sassy,” Tony says, smirking. “I could get used to that.” Then he tips his head down and takes Steve’s cock in his mouth. Steve’s head falls back, his neck abruptly boneless, so he doesn’t even notice Tony doing anything until three fingers press back into his ass, already aimed at that spot, that perfect angle, and Steve is suddenly writhing, his hips jerking upward helplessly even as he knows that can’t be good manners and tries to stop them.

Tony doesn’t seem to care though, just shifts so he’s got an angle that he likes, and then he’s sucking Steve’s cock with long, practiced motions, fucking Steve’s ass with three fingers, and, somehow, is also twisting Steve’s left nipple so hard that Steve is whining in the back of his throat.

Steve doesn’t have a chance to even warn Tony. It’s all an upward, frantic rush of pain-pleasure-sensation, and then he’s sobbing out his orgasm while Tony swallows as though that had been the plan all along, and Steve wails, “Oh my God, Tony,” almost reverently.

Tony rocks back on his heels. His mouth is red and bruised looking.

Steve wants desperately to kiss him, but he isn’t sure that’s allowed. He isn’t sure about any of what’s allowed, and is starting to feel a little panicky about that.

Then Tony is there, in the chair with him, one thigh swung over both of Steve’s. He’s got his hands in Steve’s hair and his brow pressed against Steve’s brow, and he’s murmuring, “It’s okay. You’re just coming down. No need to freak out.” He brushes through Steve’s hair with his fingers. “We’re not going to pretend this didn’t just happen. You don’t have to deal with this part alone.”

“What’s this part?” Steve asks shakily.

“Aftercare,” Tony says softly, and brushes his lips against Steve’s temple. “It wasn’t hardcore kinky sex, but it was kinky, and it was your first time. It’s hard to tell how someone will react.”

“Aftercare,” Steve repeats, because it sounds like a medical term, like he’s been injured in some way, but it also sounds exactly like the right kind of thing, the thing he needs. Somebody to be with him after and care about what he’s feeling and how spooked he is. “So, do we talk about it?” Steve asks dubiously. He’s only known Tony for about seventy-five minutes, but he’s pretty sure Tony isn’t much for talking about feelings.

“Do you need to talk about it?” Tony asks. And even sounds sincere.

Steve ponders this. “You basically bribed your way into my pants,” he points out. “But now you’re okay with talking about it?”

Tony tips his head back to look Steve in the eye. “You said you’d read my deeply classified SHIELD file, right?” Steve nods. “So, regarding the first, you already knew I was a manipulative dick. Right?” Steve doesn’t want to smile at that stunning accurate description, but can’t quite stop it. He nods and Tony smiles faintly, too. “So, yeah. I wanted you, so I did what I thought would work. Dick move. Can’t say I’m actually regretting it, but, yeah. I’ll give you that one. Regarding the second. Well, you don’t know me, or anything about sex, or especially about kinky sex, but I’m still a little offended that you thought I wouldn’t take care of you afterward.”

“I don’t know what to think,” Steve says truthfully. “I don’t even know what’s allowed with this,” he gestures in a vaguely circular manner, “thing. Is it just this once? Is it every time, now that I said yes the first time? Are we doing things with other people? Is there some kind of rule book?”

Tony’s eyes are crinkled, but he’s still stroking his fingers through Steve’s hair, so Steve fails to become irritated. “Not a rulebook, but I can give you some suggestions that give good information. But mostly, everyone works out how they want it on their own. I’m willing to keep it in my pants if you’re still willing to bareback. I expect the same in return.”

“So this is a thing?” Steve asks.

“It can be. Maybe just for another couple of meetings.” He shrugs. “It depends on what we find out we have in common. And you never have to do another thing with me again, if you don’t want to. Consent is never implied. I’ll ask for what I want every time.”

“We’ll negotiate,” Steve says. He can feel himself relaxing. This seems a lot less problematic with Tony half splayed across his lap.

“Yeah, but read up. Or.” Tony gives him a long look. “Or don’t. I wouldn’t actually mind teaching you, the, uh, idea has some charm, but if you want your own knowledge-base, I get that.”

Steve will consider that. Because knowledge is power, but. He’s not stupid enough to ignore the fact that the lack of power had been... something. Had done something for him. “I’ll think about it,” he says.

Tony brushes his lips across Steve’s temple again. “Feel okay?”

Steve does. “Yeah,” he says. “Do I need to do anything for you?”

Tony winks. “There are so many dirty ways I could answer that question. But, no. I’m good.”

“Then we have about eleven minutes to get decent before the lockdown expires,” Steve says. “And then we still have contracts.”

Tony looks perilously close to pouting. “Okay, shower through the door behind the desk, I’ll bring your clothes when I come in.”

They both scramble to their feet fairly gracelessly.

“Tony?” Steve says, not entirely sure he should say anything at all. Tony quirks a brow at him. “It was good,” Steve says softly. “I’m glad this was my first time.” He can feel himself blushing, but doesn’t look away.

Tony gives him a long, intent look, and then closes the two feet between them quickly. He cups the back of Steve’s neck and pulls him down, and then they’re kissing, warm and soft and neither totally chaste nor exceptionally dirty. Just kissing like it’s their first time, and they’re trying it out.

Tony pulls back before Steve is really ready for it to be over. “I’m glad you’re glad,” he says a little fiercely, and then turns and walks over to the garment rack.

Steve watches his back for a moment, and then takes himself through the door to the bathroom. He’s still got a job to do.