Tony always wanted the lights off. It wasn’t like he insisted on it, and he and Steve had spent plenty of time pressed up close against each other, necking on the back of Steve’s motorcycle, in Tony’s workshop, on the sofa in the Tower’s living room, or trading breathless kisses while still in uniform (though Steve still felt a little guilty about that sometimes), but whenever Steve’s hands moved up from Tony’s hips to slide under his shirt and skim over his skin, or fell to cup the round firm curve of Tony’s rear and pull Tony into him, their hips together, or he moved to push at Tony’s jacket or fumble with his tie, Tony would pull away, not obviously sliding out from under Steve’s hands, but evading them all the same, as he smiled and teased and distance slid back into place between them or he turned away back into work or the team or his projects or the crowd.
Tony would always find a moment when they were in bed together to tell JARVIS to dim the lights, or flick them off himself, and at first Steve was lost for a reason as to why. Tony was all warm, passionate energy and intensity in bed, pressing hot kisses deep into Steve’s mouth, making heady, enthusiastic noises at each touch of Steve’s hands, sliding his own hands into Steve’s hair so he could arch his body against Steve’s, leaving him breathless with every voluptuous roll and twitch of his hips, to the point where Steve struggled to get him to slow down sometimes. It was strange to think that Tony with his dirty mouth and wicked tongue and rambling words during sex, his quick, searching, clever hands, would want darkness. Especially when it wasn’t actually dark—everything was always cast in the dim, cool blue light of the arc reactor. To Steve it was something beautiful, a time and space outside of anything but the two of them, Tony’s body glowing in the light of the thing that kept him alive, but Tony flinched away whenever he touched it, pushed Steve’s hands down to his hips, moved to kiss him, shifting his body distractingly against Steve’s.
Steve didn’t mind the darkness, but he didn’t like the feeling that Tony was hiding.
He covered the arc reactor with his hand, shifted it aside, playing with the light, and Tony made a small, abortive sound.
“What’re you doing, big guy?” he said after a moment. ”Stop that. Come back up here and kiss me, c'mon.”
Steve traced his fingers down over the scars that radiated out around it, and he could feel Tony shudder, see him hunch his shoulders inward. He leaned in and pressed a kiss just above the reactor, trailed his lips down to mouth at the cool metal of the port, the strange thrumming warmth beneath the clear facing itself, and Tony gasped, raw and shocked.
“Quit it,” he said, after a moment, and his voice shook.
“Does it bother you?” Steve asked.
“Not really,” Tony said, after a moment, lightly. Too lightly.
“I like it,” Steve said. ”I like … the light of it.” He trailed his fingers down Tony’s abs, muscular and strong. He liked everything about Tony’s body, how hard he worked to keep in shape, the sturdy, compact lines of his shoulders and the curve of his back and waist into his hips. ”I like that it keeps you alive.” He trailed his lips over the face of it, licked along the metal curve and then downward over Tony’s stomach. Tony twitched and shivered, breathing unsteadily.
“You—I—huh—what brought this on?” Tony was pushing himself up on his elbows.
“You always turn out the lights,” Steve said. ”You roll onto your stomach while we sleep, like this—” he tapped the reactor. ”Is going to bother me. But it doesn’t. I like it. It’s beautiful, I mean that.” He looked up at Tony, wondering if his own flush was hidden by the low light. ”So’re you.”
Tony snorted. ”Yeah, says the pinnacle of manly perfection in front of me,” he said, and something about the way he said it—
“Wasn’t born that way,” Steve said mildly. He’d been born with a body too sickly and weak to let him be what he’d wanted to be—did Tony really think he’d judge him for his scars, his imperfections, his height or his softness or the reactor in his chest like a glowing star or whatever he was thinking? He liked that Tony wasn’t perfect. Tony had worked for every fiber of his musculature, and Steve would have been painfully envious of it once. It was still gorgeous, the lines and curves of him making Steve’s fingers ache for a pencil to capture them sometimes when he looked at him.
“Hmm,” Tony said, sunk his fingers into Steve’s hair and tugged his head back up to kiss him. ”Guess neither of us were.”