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Attack/Retreat

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It's quiet. Maybe too quiet. Steve doesn't want to get his hopes up, but part of him - a small, petty part of him - is willing to embrace whatever is responsible for it. Possibly, even if it's Dr. Doom. Well no, not that - not even in his imagination, because you just never know.

The key point though, is that the kitchen is quiet.

He pads soundlessly down the hall, and stops at the doorway to listen in. Just a muted scratching. No clatter of silverware, no too-loud conversation, no Avengers noises at all.

Steve goes in.

The kitchen is empty, except for Jarvis who's polishing the brass of the espresso machine. In the twenty minutes since Jarvis served Peter, Luke and the Jessicas waffles for Sunday brunch, he's managed to clear up the dishes, put away the food and hustle out the rest of the team. It's equal parts startling and impressive.

Particularly since Steve himself had failed spectacularly at getting his team to leave Avengers Tower. Detailed descriptions of the fantastic weather he'd encountered during his morning run, and hints at the wide world outside the Tower, waiting to be explored were mostly ignored until he made coffee. After that, Luke and Jess buried themselves in the sports page and the editorials, respectively. Peter and Jessica tag-teamed the crossword, and ate plate after plate of waffles.

Steve had been tempted to order them to leave, or fake an emergency call for them to respond to. He could claim to be right behind them - he just had to wake up Tony. The only flaw in that plan was that Jess and Danielle weren't about to suit up and fight Dr. Doom.

Finally he'd given up, headed for the shower and hoped for the best.

Steve takes in the mercifully silent kitchen and reflects that Jarvis, as always, is a miracle worker. Now he just needs to get rid of Jarvis.

He likes the new team - they're all good people, and even factoring in Logan, easier to live with than Hercules or She-Hulk. That he likes Jarvis goes without saying. But Steve woke up this morning with a plan to put into action, and it requires them all to be somewhere else.

Steve goes to fill up his water bottles, and Jarvis glances up from his efforts long enough to verify that Steve is one of the few approved to touch his appliances. Jarvis nods companionably and goes back to polishing.

He fills his two bottles from the tap, and Tony's from the Brita jug. The taps all have high-efficiency filters, but Tony insists that he can taste the difference. Steve half suspects that left to his own devices, Tony would drink a couple of those obscenely expensive Swiss spring waters after every workout - the gym in the mansion had a mini fridge stocked with them.

The new gym, smaller and without any of the technological marvels of the old one, is suspiciously comfortable. As if Steve himself designed it.

Done, he glances over at Jarvis, trying to figure out the best way to approach this.

Jarvis saves him the trouble. "Training today sir?"

"I have a hand-to-hand scheduled with Tony at ten."

"Ah." There are layers of meaning in that syllable, and Steve wonders if Jarvis suspects. Not about his plan exactly, or the details, but about him and Tony. Jarvis has known Tony for all his life. He's known Steve since he was defrosted, as Clint liked to put it. So it wouldn't surprise Steve, if Jarvis knew, and was too reserved, too British, to say or hint at anything.

"Jarvis?"

"Mr. Stark was in the workshop until quite late last night."

Steve frowns. "He said he was going straight to bed."

"He did indeed go straight to bed - after making some apparently urgent adjustments to the silver Bugati."

Right. Steve has no doubt that in Tony's mind, those adjustments were urgent, but Tony's priorities don't always match those of other people. After eleven hours of being, quote 'chained to a desk pushing meaningless paper that should really be phased out, because it's not only greener, it's more efficient,' late night car repairs might just have been a kind of urgent. Not that Tony ever actually stayed at his desk.

Steve sets the bottles on the sparkling counter. "Well, I guess I'd better wake him up." Jarvis doesn't look up from the espresso machine. "What are your plans for the day?"

Jarvis pauses, and looks up at Steve. "I have an appointment for luncheon."

"Good!"

"Indeed, sir." Jarvis' lips curve into a small smile that Steve is starting to associate with May Parker. Which is good sign, because it means he'll be out for hours, and also because, as much as it isn't his place, Steve can't help but like the idea of Jarvis having someone. Especially someone like May.

"When are you leaving?" he asks, hopefully without too much eagerness.

Jarvis arches an eyebrow, eerily like Tony, which Steve has never before noticed. "After I've finished with my duties here."

Steve nods. "Well, I'll leave you to it." Jarvis nods and turns back to the espresso machine, which is already bright enough for Steve to see his reflection in, even five feet away. Steve watches him polish for a moment, still nodding to himself, then backs out of the kitchen.

Steve isn't an expert dissembler, and hasn't done a lot of undercover work, but he's not unfamiliar with the underlying principles. He should be able to remain calm and collected, despite what he has planned. It's not as though it's anything nefarious.

Still, there is something indefinably strange about thinking about Jarvis, the Avengers and the plan coexisting in the same space.

Steve and Tony haven't discussed the existence of what does in fact seem to be a relationship, much less going public with it. Four months of sort-of dates and sex - a lot of good, really good sex - must even by today's standards constitute a relationship, even if it seems to only exist on the edges of their lives.

Maybe it's trite. It's definitely trite. But it's like they're stealing time from the Avengers, SI, SHIELD and all their other commitments. In those stolen moments, it seems real, like the only real thing Steve's ever experienced, which is a feeling that's dangerous and dangerously easy to indulge. It's... comfortable, actually - the same kind of deceptive too easiness that colours everything to do with Tony, until it suddenly isn't easy at all.

He's never been this clear on the meaning of cognitive dissonance, because lately, everything seems to defy his expectations. It's like he's become two Steves - the one who's in a relationship with Tony Stark, and the other one. He might not even believe that Steve existed if it weren't for obvious, well, physical evidence, and the way Tony's started to look at him. Sometimes Day Steve finds himself wondering what the hell the other Steve is thinking, and then he'll catch Tony looking at him and his body reminds him.

And he was never very good at the secret identity thing - unlike Tony, none of this comes easy to him.

So as strange as it is to be thinking sex thoughts, sex with Tony thoughts - which are embarrassingly easy to fall into - in the same space as Avengers thoughts, it's probably something he just needs to get used to, if both Steves are going to be happy.

Still, it's difficult to shake the absolutely visceral discomfort that comes with planning to have sex with Tony, when Jarvis, who practically raised Tony, is in the room.

Heading to Tony's suite, he takes a second to just be really grateful for the quiet. For the sound of Jarvis finishing up and heading to his own rooms. For Jarvis leaving, hopefully very soon. Because it makes initiating phase two that much easier.

Steve knocks on Tony's door, lightly at first. Louder when he doesn't get a response. "Tony."

The mumble he gets in reply is all the invitation he needs. He opens the door and heads in, not bothering to be quiet - as far as Tony knows, they have a training session scheduled today, and Steve has never gone easy on him when it comes to that. He doesn't want Tony catching on. At least not yet.

Tony's on his side, half covered by the sheets that twine around his legs. He's kicked off the duvet, which is all crumpled up, and clinging precariously to the foot of the bed. His face is mostly buried in his pillow, which he's clutching with the kind of desperation Tony has when knows that he's got to get up, but wants just one more second of rest.

Steve almost doesn't want to wake him. Almost. Tony's the one who put tinkering with his car ahead of sleep. "Tony." He gets another mumble.

Steve leans down and cups Tony's shoulder with his palm, shakes him a little. "Hey, time to get up."

Tony's face slowly rolls out of the pillow. One eye cracks open, followed by the other. His eyelashes are clumped together and sticky, his hair a wild mess of spikes and waves. He's got the beginnings of a beard. He looks dumbly up at Steve, and Steve is hit again, with how stupidly, ridiculously beautiful the man is. How embarrassingly sexy he finds the idea of waking up Tony to be.

Maybe it's because Tony's already in bed, so Steve could just push him back down against the pillows, once he's got him up, and then climb in.

Or maybe it's the way Tony's never firing on all cylinders in the morning, and watching a supergenius, billionaire inventor try to remember his own name never gets old.

Maybe it's a bit of both.

He's grinning a little. He doesn't try to hide it - if Tony doesn't know by now that Steve finds him irrationally attractive first thing in the morning, pillow-creased skin and all, he's not as brilliant as he's supposed to be.

He flashes for a moment, on the first time the disconnect between thinking that yes, Tony was a very attractive man, and Steve feeling that attraction connected. How utterly powerful it was, to know that he could have it, that he could let himself feel that. How it, how all of this, is mostly the result of Tony being kind of an idiot sometimes, albeit a cute one. Not that Steve is exempted from that judgement. It's funny, he thinks, how many life-changing moments seem to come out of people being idiots.

Tony blinks up at him, groggy, but already moving to get up. "'time is it?" His voice is shot from too many hours spent in his strangely dry office, followed by who knows how many more in the always chilly workshop.

"Nine forty."

"Barbaric," he says, but manages to get his feet on the floor. They shy away from the cool, uncarpeted floor as if they have a mind of their own.

Steve is always surprised at how easy it is to wake up Tony for things like training, when it's at least a couple of minutes and a pot of coffee before he's ready to face his real job. Maybe it's because training sometimes holds out the promise of blowing stuff up.

He brushes a hand over Tony's head, messing up his hair even more. Tony tolerates it as he always does, like a grumpy house cat who doesn't want to admit how much he wants to be petted, until it's happening. Then of course, he stakes a claim on your hand and never lets you go.

"The gym - twenty minutes." He knows he sounds like he's all business, but he can't not smile at Tony rubbing the last bits of sleep from his eyes. What exactly would Tony say, he wonders, if he compared him to a cat?

He turns to leave, but is stopped by Tony's firm grip on his hand. He uses it to pull Steve in toward him. Steve should probably try to stop him - they're on a clock - but he doesn't really want to.

Tony leans back against the pillows and slowly brings Steve's up to his lips. When he kisses the back of Steve's hand, he closes his eyes. He opens them again to look up at Steve through his lashes. "Morning." It's deliberate, flirtatious. Corny as heck.

"Good morning?" Steve pretends not to notice the way Tony's sleep shirt stretches tight across his chest, or how his pants are riding low enough to leave a thin stripe of belly visible. Steve's not the only one who understands composition.

"So busy trying to get me out of bed." Tony's brow creases with incredulity at this. He smiles, and lets go of Steve's hand. Steve suppresses the urge to recapture his hold on Tony.

"Sorry, Don Juan," he says in his best approximation of sheepish. It's almost absurdly easy to fall into this, like he could spend even more years just flirting with him.

But really, Steve is done with that.

"I'll forgive you," Tony says, imperious enough to put Dr. Doom, Magneto and Baron Zemo to shame. "Eventually. Faster if you decide to play hooky with me. You don't really want to spend the morning embarrassing yourself in the gym, do you?"

"No, you're right. There are better places to embarrass myself." Tony snorts - Steve gives himself a point.

"Ok be honest, what sounds like more fun: refining my, admittedly kind of neglected hand to hand skills," Tony holds up his hands in a gesture of magnanimity. "Or stealing away for a torrid affair."

"Just out of curiosity, in your developing romantic scenario, am I the damsel in distress to your shining knight?"

Tony grins at this. "Steve, you wouldn't be in distress if you were facing down Galactus and Thanos, in a corset and skirt."

"I don't know. Corsets are pretty distressing."

"You say that now..." Even more than the implication, its the smarmy look that makes him laugh. Not giggle - Steve doesn't giggle.

"Come on."

"Hey, I had to try. I have a bad reputation to maintain."

"Really? I haven't heard anything. You'd think someone would have warned me."

"You haven't been talking to the right people."

"No, I think you've been talking to all the wrong ones." Tony's grin softens into a real smile, the one most people don't get to see. "Ten," he reminds Tony, then turns to leave.

"Uh huh," Tony says around a yawn.

This time he actually makes it out of the room and heads to the gym.

Steve spreads out the mats, sets the water bottles on the chest that holds miscellaneous equipment, and gets out the gloves. They won't use more safety equipment than that today.

Left with fifteen minutes until Tony will show up, exactly on time and probably gulping down a coffee, Steve falls into a easy kata designed to loosen him up, and lets his mind wander. It immediately wanders to the thing that's been taking up way too much of his attention lately. The thing that's been driving him crazy.

***

The first time Tony kisses him, it's stunning, but not in a good way. Steve has no idea what's going on until well after it's over. Even then he's not sure that he didn't hallucinate the whole thing. He looks to Tony for some kind of clue, but his friend isn't exactly being helpful.

Tony's still close to him, his face inches from Steve's, but he's not really there. His blank eyes stare through him.

Steve covers Tony's hands with his own, where they've crept up to Steve's cheeks, but they immediately fly away from his touch, like they've been burned. Tony swallows hard, and looks away, but he doesn't say anything.

Steve's mind is racing, looking for some kind of explanation. Really, anything will do. Mind control drugs. Telepathy. Gypsy curse. He'll even take Tony's been replaced by a rogue LMD, if he has to. Something to explain why his friend kissed him, and now won't even look at him. Jesus - Tony kissed him.

Steve's hit with a surge of adrenalin that has his heart racing. Tony, who started this, has managed to compose his face so utterly, that Steve can't read anything on it. He's just staring blandly at some point between them, while Steve's body is trying to decide between fight, flight or something else.

"Jesus," he says. He hears himself, how completely poleaxed he sounds. He doesn't think there's anything he can do about that.

Tony keeps his silence. Takes a step away from Steve. Putting distance between them, in more ways than one. He immediately recognizes Tony's retreat mode.

Tony kissed him and now he's the one running away. Steve wants to curse the injustice of it, but figures it's about par for the course for the two of them.

Tony kissed him. He replays it - awkward, dry, and too quick to get any kind of feel for how he kisses. He could just kiss him back and find out. He could kiss Tony. Tony kissed him threatens to become an infinite loop so he cuts off the thought. He needs answers.

Tony can move quick when he wants to, and not even look like his trying. He's across the room in seconds, and no one who didn't know him would see his haste. They wouldn't see how his utterly casual, tensionless posture is calculated.

Tony grabs a water from the fridge, twists off the cap and tosses it onto the counter. He drinks half the bottle in one gulp. Steve's reminded of the old days, when Tony always retreated to the bar when he was nervous.

"Tony."

Tony takes another drink from his bottle, and swallows it with a grimace. He leans back against the kitchen counter. "Listen, I'm sorry."

He's sorry. Steve isn't sure if he should punch him, or laugh at him. Both are tempting right now. Neither is a good idea.

He really doesn't want to hear whatever cover story Tony's come up with.

"Let me guess," he says, before Tony can continue. "You haven't been sleeping well, you're stressed out."

"Well..."

"Wait- you've never kissed a man and you wanted to see what it would be like." Steve can't help the sarcasm that colours that.

"I wouldn't do that to-" Tony's phone cuts him off. He lets it ring for a few seconds and then finally answers. "George, do you have those numbers for me?" Tony's voice betrays nothing.

While Tony's on the phone, Steve backtracks. Not everyone can multitask at the level of Tony Stark, engineering superstar, so Steve needs to take every second he's got.

The first thing he's got is: what the heck? That isn't helpful, so he replays the night. Happy picking him up at his apartment, because Tony insists that taking the bike would ruin his suit. He's right, but Steve hates being driven.

The gallery opening. Going through the back entrance to avoid the press. Tony explaining that it's not for Steve - he's just not in the mood for flashbulbs and questions shouted in his face. Watching the cream of New York society try to charm Tony. Watching Tony deflect them.

The new Japanese exhibit, donated by Fujikawa Corp. Steve doesn't speak Japanese, so Tony's conversation with Mr. Fujikawa - Rumiko's father - goes right over his head. He can read body language though, and he sees the obvious tension in Tony's shoulders.

And later, Tony inviting him up to his new apartment.

"Come on, you'll be the first to see the finished product. Aside from Jarvis. And Pepper and Happy, of course."

"Of course." Steve grins at him and agrees to a tour of Tony's new apartment. It just feels good to spend time with him again.

And then arguing. He's not sure why they even started - it was such a good night. And then, just as Steve is about leave, Tony kisses him. And Steve... doesn't handle it as well as he could.

Tony finishes his call and puts his phone on the counter, instead of back in his pocket. He sighs and doesn't look at Steve.

"Are you ok?"

Tony looks up, startled. "I should be asking you that."

"It's not like you attacked me."

"Yeah, but-"

"Hey, it's ok." Tony kissed him. He lets himself savour that thought for a moment. He could kiss Tony back right now, and he's pretty sure that Tony wouldn't do anything to stop him. But that wouldn't be right. Rumiko, he thinks.

He doesn't want to, but he can give Tony this out. The way he's holding onto the counter like it's the only thing keeping him steady, maybe it's the only thing Steve can do.

He gives Tony a friendly pat on the shoulder and in a few minutes they're back to normal, and watching a Charlie Chaplin movie on Tony's excessively big new tv. The whole time they're cracking up over Chaplin's antics, Steve keeps coming back to the fact that he's learned something about Tony. Tony kissed him.

That's the first time, and it sets a pattern.

***

The second time? Tony kisses him, but Steve pushes him into it.

He comes back to the newly minted Avengers Tower full of anger, but unwilling to admit it. Steve isn't angry. He's not angry because there's nothing to be upset about. The mission was a success. The Avengers saved the day and no one got hurt, outside of a few bumps and bruises.

He isn't angry because Tony risked himself during the fight. This is what they do. He tells himself that nothing's different. He's always, far in the back of his head, worried about Tony, and Tony has always taken a lot of - what look like, though he insists aren't - stupid risks.

Tony flew between Steve and a giant, rampaging seaweed, bent on destroying all humans on it's way back to the ocean. For his troubles he got himself punted eight city blocks, but not before being used as a battery by the clearly mutated, possibly cybernetically augmented seaweed. Tony left the fight battered and drained. Literally in the case of the armor. But so did all of them.

There's nothing strange about that. Well, there are several things about it that are strange, but Tony's actions aren't one of them. So Steve isn't angry about that.

But most of all, Steve isn't angry about his inability to get the kiss out his mind, a month later. It's not like he thinks about it all the time. He doesn't think about it during missions, for example. Usually. And he can avoid thinking about it when he's drawing. Except for the times he finds himself drawing a familiar set of lips.

Oh yeah, and he isn't angry at the fact that Tony hasn't had a date in almost a year, not even for the endless social engagements that he can't completely duck out of. And how instead, he just stays home most nights, either down in the workshop, or watching movies with Steve. Sitting beside him on the couch and sharing a bowl of popcorn. Sometimes their fingers brush, and while Steve is no longer a teenager, it's- another thing that doesn't bother him at all.

Steve isn't angry about a lot of things, because that kind of pettiness only leads to bad ends.

When Tony bounds up from his workshop, having shed his armor, Steve takes one look at the gash across his forehead, and the towel Tony holds against it, and snaps.

"You didn't tell me you were hurt." It comes out as an accusation.

Tony goes still, startled like a deer in hunting season, but quickly laughs it off. Like his being hurt is absurd, and in Tony's mind it probably is - an affront to the universe according to Tony Stark.

"It's just a scrape."

"It's a head wound."

"Yeah, exactly. They always look worse than they are."

"Tony, you're not a doctor. You don't get to decide what's 'worse'." Which probably isn't the right tack, considering how tense things have been between them, but Steve isn't thinking all that clearly.

"It's a scrape, Which, by the way, I got saving your life." There's an edge to his tone, underneath Tony's effort to keep it light.

"I want you to get it checked out."

"I'm not going all the way to the hospital for a paper cut."

"A three inch gash next to your eye is not a paper cut. You're getting it checked out."

Tony pulls the towel away from his forehead and examines it. A steady but slow trickle of blood still oozes from the cut. "Steve, I don't have time for this right now. I need to run a diagnostic on the armor, and then Pepper has me scheduled for a mind-numbingly dull teleconference. I'll tape some gauze over it and get it checked out later."

Apparently Tony dismissing him is one of Steve's buttons, because things go south from there. "You're going to the hospital," he says flatly.

"You know first aid. If you're so worried, stitch it up. I have things to do."

"The armor can wait," Steve says, making it an order.

"Sorry, when exactly did you become my nanny?"

"I'm your team leader and you just got wounded on a mission."

"That's funny, I thought we were doing this 'together'. We aren't in the field anymore, and you don't give orders here."

"I wouldn't have to, if you actually took care of yourself."

"What gives you the right-"

"You do. You did." Steve doesn't say it, but Tony hears what's behind that anyway. His eyes go wide and for a second Steve thinks he's seeing too much, more than Tony would want him to. He's convinced that something is going to happen that they'll both regret.

Then Tony drops his gaze and Steve's treated to the media-relations mask. His irritation with Tony doesn't instantly drain away, but it gets sidetracked - he's too busy feeling bad to indulge in it.

"Tony, I-"

"Don't tell me you're sorry," Tony says, his voice gone rough. Then before Steve knows it, it's happening again. Tony's leaning up, leaning into him and pressing his lips to Steve's.

Steve isn't thinking at all but his body knows how to react this time. He's replayed the first kiss more often than he's willing to admit. His lips open to Tony like they've done this a thousand times before.

When he comes back to himself, when Steve can do more than just feel, Tony's hands are caught uselessly between them, fingers curled into Steve's shirt.

Steve wants to touch Tony. He wants to run his hands over his shoulders, and his back, and everywhere. He wraps his arms around Tony and pulls him closer. Tony stumbles into him, overbalanced, but doesn't stop kissing. Steve gets his hands under Tony's shirt so he's touching smooth skin. His fingertips press into the small of his back.

Tony works his hands out from between them and he's pushing, pushing Steve away, just enough for him to tear his lips from Steve's. Steve opens his eyes - when had he closed them? Tony stares at him, expression beyond serious. But searching. Steve doesn't know what he's asking until Tony starts pushing him again, walking him backwards into his bedroom. Steve doesn't see any reason to argue with him.

Later, when he's lying on his back in Tony's bed, with Tony beside him, the tension between them utterly broken, it's easy to say, "I wasn't going to."

"What?" Tony lazily rolls onto his side, propping his head up on one hand.

"Say I was sorry."

He's not grinning but Steve can see satisfaction written into every inch of him. "Yeah, you were."

"I really wasn't."

"Were."

"No, I- Hey. I'm not playing this game with you."

"Are so."

"Am no- Tony!"

They fall asleep and when Steve wakes up, Tony's gone. He doesn't ask for an explanation.

And that's how it goes for a while. They find stupid excuses to fight, and even more stupid excuses to fall into bed together, until at some point it becomes a regular thing.

They stop needing excuses, and start taking every opportunity to spend time alone together. It's not all sex. Eventually Steve realizes that he and Tony aren't just hanging out like they've always done - they're dating.

They're in the Guggenheim, holding hands - Tony having diverted the security cameras - when he admits to himself how weird it all is.

It takes him longer to decide to do something about it.

***

So Steve has a problem. Normally when he has a problem that he can't fix himself, he'll go to one of his friends, but this isn't the kind of problem that he can take to Sam, or Tony. Not Sam, because it's the kind of problem his friend would never, ever want to hear about. Not Tony, because he sort of is the problem.

Or well, not a problem exactly - even when Tony is being his most frustrating, over-caffeinated, under-rested self, or when things are at their worst, Steve would never categorize Tony as a 'problem.' Red Skull, Doom and even Stiltman (minor threat that he is), are 'problems'. Tony is just... Tony. But right now, he is most definitely the source of Steve's frustration.

Hence the plan, which admittedly, is not as fully formed as his battle plans usually are, but Steve's even less experienced with this kind of thing than he is with dissembling. By an incredibly wide margin.

The thing is, Tony is missing some fairly huge, and in Steve's opinion, obvious signals. The message behind those signals being, and it's one that he never thought he would be sending to Tony, is that Steve wants him to stop playing safe. He wants Tony to stop treating him like he's... delicate, like Steve's going to break, or disappear at the first sign of... whatever Tony thinks would drive him off.

Steve finds that he's getting ahead of himself, a beat faster than he should be. Rather than back down to the disciplined crawl of the kata, he shifts into something faster. He pictures an imaginary opponent. No one in particular. He doesn't bother to sketch in the details, just imagines someone about his own weight and height to spar with.

He can't practice throws on someone who's not there, so he focuses on his punches. He sees his opponent coming at him, all fists. Steve dodges the first punch, and responds in kind, more aggressive than he would be with a real person. He's not practicing for real, and isn't too concerned with his form. He's just killing time until Tony gets here, and trying to take care of the restless energy that his extra-long morning run hadn't even dented.

Breakfast was an exercise in torture, watching time he could be spending with Tony, alone in Avengers Tower, eaten up by waffles and crossword puzzles. Steve is usually a patient guy, but everyone has their limits. He takes all that frustration and throws it into his punches, because it's never good to take that kind of thing into a real spar.

Steve always thought, when he let himself imagine something happening between them, that it would be Tony pushing him. Not because of his reputation. Steve has been in the public eye since he was twenty-one, and he knows how much fiction reporters mix in with fact. But he knows Tony, how part of him is always unsatisfied - looking to the next bigger and better thing. Tony is not a patient man by nature, and when something doesn't work the way he thinks it should, he tries to fix it. Or re-engineer it from the ground up, with a jet engine, lasers and espresso-making attachments. That's just how his brain works.

Steve should have known that didn't extend to Tony's personal life.

The thing is, Steve has always expected - no, not expected, because as much as he's wanted this, he never expected a relationship with Tony. He's always - though he's not sure he could ever say it out loud - anticipated that Tony would be more aggressive.

He's holding something back. Steve knows because there are times when it is impossible to hide yourself completely.

There are times when they're together, when they're in bed, that Steve feels like he can see clear to the depths of everything in Tony's eyes. When Tony can't hide what he's feeling, because it would take too much to control it all - and Steve knows, because then, at those times, he feels exactly the same. It's just that Tony, contrary to everything that Steve imagined, is the one who can't let go of whatever control he can find.

There is part of Tony that looks at Steve and sees an nice guy, a stand up guy, maybe a little naive about modern times. That wants, god help them both, to protect Steve.

But Steve, well, sometimes when he's with Tony he doesn't want to be a nice guy. Sometimes when he's with Tony he doesn't feel nice at all, he just feels, so much, like he's lost some crucial piece of self-control and he doesn't miss it at all. Like it's ok to be out of control, to want and to have, because Tony can take it, can take anything Steve wants, give anything he needs.

Steve stumbles, then regains his rhythm. His heart is going a little faster than it should, but it's not from the shadow-boxing. He makes a conscious effort to slow it but doesn't stop moving.

His opponent is getting cocky. He sees an opening and slides in under his defenses, connects with a vicious uppercut that only momentarily phases him. Steve's faceless opponent will never tire, not even if Steve, whose stamina outmatches most everyone he knows including superhumans, does.

Tony. He keeps coming back to that. Sometimes it's just so incredibly frustrating. In ways that Steve normally doesn't like to think about.

He's, god, so open about some things - Steve knows that he's safe with Tony, that's never even been a question, but some of things he does, make him feel... dirty. Not like a kid doing something he knows he shouldn't. Like he's discovered this secret about his body - that he could turn off his higher brain functions and just be in his flesh, just live for that moment where even nerves he didn't know existed are screaming for something, more, now. Where there's no part of him that's off limits, no part of him that doesn't need to be touched. And it's... dirty, yes, but it's just good. Perfect.

He wants Tony, who's so careful, sometimes too careful, to feel it too. Steve wants to see him out of control, and not careful at all.

And that, that right there is the problem. But Steve has found the solution.

He's thought about this a lot, spent more time and mental effort on it than he's ever devoted to a... sex thing, even when he was a kid trying to figure out what sex was. Because this isn't just a sex thing. It's about everything that's between them. Steve knows, has known since before Tony ever kissed him, exactly how dangerous this is. Tony knows too, and maybe that's part of it.

Steve's opponent bears down on him, but he isn't a match for Steve right now, who gets through his defenses with a wicked jab to his imaginary kidneys. Steve follows up with a series of blows, fast but with all the weight of his emotions behind them. Steve can't finish off his opponent, that's the beauty of an imaginary sparring partner, but when Steve is done, when he feels like his frustration is spent, so is his opponent. Steve makes a brief bow, and dismisses his sparring partner. Marks his heart rate. Elevated, but not by much.

He still has a few minutes, so he settles into stretching, anything to keep busy.

Avengers Tower is quiet on Sundays. It's the only day that Tony actually takes off, and the only time that he and Steve are alone in the tower for a significant period of time. Which makes it perfect. It's entirely reasonable, normal even, that he would ask Tony to meet him in the gym, when everyone, even Jarvis, is out of the building busy with something else.

About half of the Sundays Steve has spent here, Tony has been lost to his workshop, but this one is all Steve's.

Steve is ready for him, when Tony walks into the gym, hair still messy from bed, and from the groggy look on his face, Steve thinks, only on his second coffee. He's surprised that Tony hasn't brought a thermos with him - a bad habit that Steve has only partially managed to break him of.

Tony watches as Steve finishes up. It's an effort to control the spike in his breathing, to conceal everything that he's feeling, long enough to put it away somewhere - the last thing he wants is Tony to think he's upset, or to try to comfort him. Which he's found out Relationship Tony is all too willing to do, even when Steve is not in fact upset. More like... excited. And just possibly, a little worried. Maybe.

Steve shakes out and turns to Tony. Allows himself a moment to appreciate again, the design of the gym, its huge windows that let in the late morning light. Tony always looks good in the morning.

"What's the plan?" Tony asks, pulling on his gloves.

Steve nods at the training circle and moves into it himself, picks up his own gloves and straps them on. It takes him longer than it should to get them just right. It's like his body is charged - he has to dissipate it, be nothing but absolutely focused. So he takes a second, fiddles with his gloves and clears his head.

"Cap?"

He shakes his head no and sees Tony catch on - no talking. Tony can't stop the line that forms between his eyebrows, telegraphing his confusion. He can't know what Steve is thinking. He probably thinks that this is some obscure Army exercise to improve non-verbal communication, and in a way it is. Just not the kind of communication that Tony has in mind.

Steve watches him roll out eleven hours of sitting behind a desk, and too few hours of restless sleep. He smiles to himself, and that line appears again on Tony's forehead - he has no idea what's coming. It feels perversely good, he thinks, to have the upper hand. Tony's usually so prepared, which is why Steve feels no guilt at all.

Steve knows that it's dangerous to make this into a game, but when it comes to Tony, it's far too tempting to indulge. At least a little.

Tony, done stretching, arches an eyebrow - what's next? Steve just lets the moment drag on, keeps staring. Tony doesn't bother to try to keep eye contact, but he watches Steve - his shoulders, feet - waiting for an attack. Steve watches the impatience build - Tony's not good at waiting.

Steve moves, settles into first position. Tony silently and quickly follows. His body thrums with tension, all the everyday irritations of his job, ready to be let out. It's kind of like sparring with Clint, who had that same innate impatience with how slow everyone took things. The difference with Tony is that he's too smart for his own good. He's running probabilities, trying to figure out what's going on, instead of just waiting and watching Steve.

He's decided that he's not going to let Tony run those probabilities, he's not going to let him think about anything else - right now, he wants all of Tony's attention.

He waits, holding, until Tony looks away from him, to his left, distracted. Steve waits until Tony thinks he's safe. Then he moves.

He's on him in three steps. Tony reacts immediately - good - dodges the punch Steve throws. He follows up from his left and Tony moves right, twisting to get clear. Tony's faster than he was before he took extremis, but not as fast as Steve, and he has no intention of giving him any breathing room.

Tony doesn't stop moving, keeping Steve at a distance, which is exactly what Steve trained him to do. Tony isn't a small man but against Steve, his chances up close, or on the ground, drop dramatically. But that is exactly where Steve wants him.

Steve feints with a right and Tony falls for it. Moves to block Steve's fist and use his momentum to send it to Tony's right. Steve sidesteps, shifts left and closes with Tony, who dances backward. Fast, but not fast enough. Steve is on him, crowding him, and Tony gives up ground, circling away, away.

Steve hasn't landed a blow yet, and that can't just be extremis - Tony is really trying, really here, undistracted. He glances up to Tony's face, which is blank, his lips slightly parted. He's not giving away anything, and it really shouldn't be so hot that Tony is, for once, exactly on point. Doing everything Steve taught him.

But it is.

Maybe it's arrogant of him, but he's always feels a kind of pride when one of his students does really well, impresses him. Steve knows it's their efforts that really matter, but he can't shut the feeling down completely. It's different somehow with the Avengers. With people he fights beside every day, in whose hands he places his life. More vital that he and they get it right. Not so that Steve will be safe, but so they will, and the people they exist to protect.

Even now he finds himself assessing Tony, cataloguing weaknesses and strengths for their next session. While part of him is just looking for an opening to shut him down. Looking at his skin, at the faint flush that's spreading up his arms and neck, at his lips, still slightly parted, now wet from a quick swipe of his tongue. And for a second, for just a second, Steve forgets to glance back down, to watch Tony's body, and lets himself get distracted.

Tony takes that second and moves, snaps out a kick to Steve's legs, that he dodges with a little more effort than should have been necessary. Tony lets him him move, lets him get out of the way - Steve sees it coming, the next kick, but he doesn't have enough time to get out of the way, and it connects. He stumbles from the blow, keeps his feet and keeps moving. Doesn't let Tony take advantage.

Tony is grinning now, this wild little smile that's wide open for Steve to see everything he's feeling. Steve marks that down as something to work on next time, but he takes it in, what Tony's feeling: I have you, I have you. Something deep in his belly twists at the predatory edge to it, responds to it. Not yet you don't.

Tony's still on the offensive, still moving fast and clean - not tiring at all. But Steve taught him, trained with him, knows how he thinks. Steve opens his defenses, lets Tony, who's getting confident now, in. Lets him throw all his weight behind a right. Steve watches it coming, until, at the last second, he twists around it.

Tony's fist misses Steve by less than an inch, and he can still feel the force of it on his skin.

He extends the twist, moving up outside Tony while he's still off balance and gets behind him. Threads his arms around Tony's waist, pulls him close. He gets Tony off his feet, but Tony drives back with his elbows, knocking Steve off balance. Steve loosens his hold and Tony struggles hard, his arms slick with sweat. In the seconds while they're grappling Steve registers Tony's eyes, wild, pupils blown wide. More black, than blue.

Steve manages to get an arm around Tony's left, and lock it close to his chest. He pulls his arms tight across Tony's chest again. His face pressed close to Steve's, it's easy to see his expression, the way his mouth hangs open, how his eyes flicker from Steve's arms, to something else and back again. Not really looking for anything, not thinking about anything but trying to break the hold, which he doesn't stop working on. Steve decides to let him, to use his momentum against him, and send them both to the floor.

He controls the fall, but it still drives the air from Tony's lungs. He struggles a few seconds more, a spasm of resistance, then goes still. "Give," he coughs out. Steve immediately releases him, and rolls him gently to the mat. He keeps close though, gets one knee under him and leans over Tony. Watches him pant, at first kind of desperate, fast. Like his body is relearning how to breathe - Steve's felt that before, so he knows how good Tony is feeling when his breathing starts to slow. He can't help but smile down at him, at Tony spread out on the mat, arms limp over his head, his legs, one knee bent, slightly spread. At how he just breathes into his arm like it's the best thing ever, at how completely unconscious of himself he is, for once.

Yeah, Steve thinks. Now is good. It only takes a couple of seconds to rip open the velcro at his wrists and pull off his gloves. He was going to draw this out longer, but right now is good.

Tony finally gathers himself enough to speak, doesn't bother moving because the fight's over, the danger has passed, just looks up at Steve through his lashes - this time not flirting - his forehead still pressed against his arm. "What was that about?" The question is barely more than a throaty whisper.

He doesn't know exactly what he's going to say. The plan was always vague on this part, and he figured he would improvise. He doesn't think, doesn't know what he's saying until he's already saying it.

"You needed it," Steve says simply.

"I needed to get the stuffing beaten out of me?" Tony asks, and when he moves to get up Steve spreads his palm across his chest and pushes down.

"Steve?" Tony's uncertain, his eyes wide, but still, still not scared. He's still open, and there's something amazing, Steve thinks, about having so much trust. He pushes Tony down, back against the mat, and Tony goes with it, lets his arms fall back over his head. Steve follows him, swings his leg over Tony's body, so he's straddling him, on his knees. One hand still hard against Tony's chest, the other arm pressed close against Tony's, their skin sticking together with sweat.

Steve leans in close, so his lips are almost touching Tony's cheek. Tony looks down, somewhere, at Steve's hand maybe, then back to his face. He's taking a gamble now, but based on what he knows about Tony, based on the way Tony's eyes are going dark, going almost black, he thinks this should work out fine. "Yes," he says, voice low.

"Wha-?" Tony blinks, startled. Steve allows himself some satisfaction at that.

"I said yes. That's what you needed." Tony goes still for a second.

Steve can see his brain deciding that something just doesn't compute. He can see Tony trying to figure that out, trying to come up with some smart remark to defuse the situation, make sure Steve is ok, because surely he couldn't mean that.

Steve knows he's got to do something to keep things on track, so he leans in and takes Tony's earlobe between his teeth. Lets Tony feel his breath hot against his skin, his teeth holding him. And Tony doesn't move at all. So Steve bites him, gently at first, just a hint of pressure on sensitive skin. When that earns him a surprised gasp, he decides that he was right, and increases the pressure.

Carefully, so carefully, he edges up to where it's no longer just pleasant, where it has to hurt a little, and Tony just shudders. Lets out a sigh that sounds half like Steve's name, and half something else, like not even Tony knows what he's trying to say. Steve lets go of his earlobe, drags his lips across Tony's cheek, wet and open, stopping before he reaches Tony's lips. Pulls back, so he can see him. Tony tries to follow, almost involuntarily, but Steve stays out of reach.

"Steve, I..."

"Needed it."

"What?"

"Tell me that you needed it."

He sees Tony working on it, trying to figure out exactly what is going on here, what happens if he agrees. What happens if he doesn't. Steve literally sees Tony weighing the options - they play out on his face, more readable than Tony would ever believe. He sees the exact moment when Tony decides to let go.

"Yeah." Steve just holds his gaze, waiting. "Yeah, I needed it."

"What did you need?" Tony's brow constricts in frustration, but Steve isn't being perverse - he's fairly certain now, that this, right here, is exactly what they both need. Still, when Tony breaks eye contact and doesn't say anything for far too long, Steve thinks he might just refuse to respond, and it's a little scary.

He wants to shake Tony up, but he doesn't want to push him too far.

"I..." Tony falters. He closes his eyes, maybe protecting himself, maybe just putting distance between them, possibly even wondering if Steve is being mind-controlled - Steve isn't sure but he can't let Tony get away from him right now.

Steve lifts his hand from Tony's chest and brings it up, ghosts his fingers across Tony's jaw. Tony swallows hard, but stays silent, and still. Beneath his lids, his eyes move frantically, and Steve knows that right now, he is so vulnerable. He has to be careful, he thinks. And how, how did we get here so quickly?

It's not like what he has with Sharon, or what he's had with anyone else. This relationship with Tony, hell sex with Tony, is just... more dangerous, more intense, more confusing, even, weirdly, more comfortable than anything he's had before. Definitely, most people would think, more screwed up. Steve is not most people. He doesn't know exactly where it's going, but he knows that they have to get past where they are now, that Tony needs to.

Needs to just see him, here. With him.

Steve grasps Tony's jaw, not like he's delicate, but just, with infinite care, hoping that his body is saying everything that he feels. He turns Tony's face up to him. He doesn't need to hold Tony, but he keeps up the contact, keeps his fingers splayed across his jaw-line, rough with stubble. Lets his thumb slide up over his chin, to Tony's lips. After a moment they open. Steve runs his thumb along Tony's bottom lip, letting it slide inside so just the tip is wet, then pulls back. Tony's teeth close around his thumb, not hard - a warning. His eyes slit open and meet Steve's as if he's the only thing worth looking at. He wonders what Tony's seeing in his face, because god, Steve is starting to feel like this isn't a situation he can keep control of.

Tony's eyes slip shut again, and he lets go of Steve's thumb. He chooses to take that as an invitation, presses his fingers against Tony's jaw and slides his thumb further into Tony's mouth. Tony just wraps his lips around him, and draws him in further. Steve finds his tongue, or perhaps more accurately, Tony's tongue finds him - swipes across him, rough, just as Tony hollows out his cheeks and sucks. And Steve is very sure that nowhere in any of his fantasies, had he ever imagined that he could be this hard without even kissing Tony. That just breathing the same air, just being this close could make him want so much.

It takes a moment, but Steve sets aside his want, focuses.

"Tony." He pauses, lets Steve's thumb slide out from his mouth. Steve draws it out slowly.

He shifts his weight, plants his hand beside Tony's head and lowers himself, keeps going until their bodies are pressed together, and he's leaning on his forearms. He knows Tony feels him - he shifts, feels Tony's hardness against him.

Tony's eyes are still closed, and it's starting to worry him, this waiting. So he leans in, softly kisses his temple - barely touching him at all. And as frustrating as it is for him, it has to be worse for Tony. "Is this how you want it?" Steve doesn't want Tony passive, he doesn't want him trying to be what he thinks Steve wants, because Tony is what he wants. Just as he is.

He kisses him again, this time on the neck, just below his jaw. "Gentle?" Tony moves. Giving Steve better access to his throat. Steve takes advantage, deciding that he needs to make it count. Sucks until it's sure to make a mark, and that gets Tony moving - he shakes his head, shakes off Steve. He's always been clear about not leaving marks.

Tony's eyes are open now, and flashing with annoyance. Steve meets his gaze easily. "Easy?"

"No."

"Tell me what you need." Steve doesn't care right now if Tony tells him with his body, or with words, but it's better, he thinks, if Tony says it.

Steve sees Tony working the problem out, sees him deciding. Sees Tony working up his courage, maybe, choosing not to make this into a game or a joke. Choosing, he hopes, to say something real.

Tony stares up at him, eyes locked on Steve's, like he can't possibly look anywhere else. "I need you to fuck me."

That is, jesus, not what Steve was expecting, but not at all anything bad. And it hits him, like there is a direct, priority one line, from Tony's mouth to Steve's cock, which is right now, ready to do whatever Tony wants.

Tony isn't done yet - he licks his already wet lips. "I need you-" His voice, already rough, cuts out completely. His lips keep moving for a second, like they haven't caught on, and then Tony reaches up, grabs Steve's hair and pulls him down.

Steve's lips crash into Tony's and at first, for a couple of surprised moments, it's bad, all wrong angles and pain, where Tony holds him. Until they're both moving at once, Steve shifting his weight backwards and Tony arching into the kiss. Everything connects, fucking perfectly, and suddenly there's nothing easy here, nothing comfortable. Just all kinds of dangerous in the way that he can't not open his mouth for the wet slide of Tony's tongue, the way he could happily give up breathing forever, if it means he gets to keep on doing this.

Then, too soon, Tony's tugging on his hair, pulling him back, away from his lips. Steve fights him, steals a last press of lips that's maybe too hard, too much, that leaves black edges around his vision. Tony tugs harder and finally Steve lets Tony pull him off, just far enough away that he can look down at Tony, see him panting as hard as Steve. How his face is contorted in this grimace that's nothing like pretty.

Tony has something to say, he tries to form the words, but he can't stop gasping for air, and Steve is right there with him. "Steve, I-" He stops, and Steve, who has no idea at all what he should say, thinks that Tony might feel the same.

Tony lets go of his hold on Steve's hair, pushes his gloved hands through it, pushing it away from Steve's face, with too much violence for it to be a caress. There's nothing about it that should be good, but somehow it is.

He knows that he has lost control of this, utterly. He knows and he doesn't care, because when he leans in for Tony's throat, when he rocks into him, it rips this low, strangled whine out of him.

Steve sucks another kiss into Tony's neck, one that's going to leave a mark, and is bound to just piss Tony off, but he right now he doesn't care about either. Tony shakes him off again, like before, only this time harder - their faces knock together leaving Steve momentarily dazed, but Tony doesn't stop, just reaches up, leans up into Steve for another kiss, pressing their bodies together so tight that when he drops back to the floor, Steve goes with him, because he can't do anything else.

So close he can only see Tony in parts, the sharp rise of his cheekbone, his eyelashes. For a second they're just breathing, lips pressed half together, not really kissing. Steve can't see anything like control in Tony, not in the way his hands push at his thighs, forcing him down, off his knees. Not in his face. Steve goes with it, will probably do pretty much anything Tony wants right now. Because all he can see in Tony right now is the raw edge of his need, and Steve thinks, god, finally.

"Gloves," he says. "Come on." Tony rips off his gloves without looking, leaving the velcro half closed, and probably scraping his skin in the process. Then his bare hands are back on Steve.

There's a moment of pure awkwardness where they're moving in opposite directions - Tony's trying to pull him down, and Steve's trying to at least get his shirt off before he does, and then Steve's between his legs, his t-shirt rucked up under his armpits. Tony's working on the knot of his sweatpants, his normally dextrous fingers clumsy. It's taking too long, so Steve tries to help him, only four sets of fingers make it worse - they're all tangled together, and he wants to just rip the knot apart.

Tony slaps his hands away. "Just- let me just-" Steve lets him take over, and finally Tony gets it open, immediately pushes his pants and shorts down, over his hips. When they're caught halfway down, Tony gets his legs up and pushes at them with his feet. Steve kicks them the rest of the way off. Gets to his knees, long enough to pull his shirt off and toss it away.

Tony reaches for him. "Steve, I need-"

"You need to be naked." It's out before he thinks about it, his mouth about a million miles ahead of his lagging brain. He can feel the blush that instantly spreads across his face.

Tony's eyes widen at that, but he doesn't look like he's going to argue, mouth hanging open, hands sort of caught in mid-air and his erection tenting his workout pants - he stops for a second, like a stalling engine, until something in him rolls over, restarts and he's sitting up, hands scrambling at his t-shirt. Steve leans in, hands following Tony's, skimming up his flanks, across his chest, whatever flesh is revealed as Tony takes off his shirt. Finally, Tony flings it away, and his hands move immediately to Steve's body, to his hips. Steve presses in for a kiss that barely lands on Tony's already open mouth.

Tony kisses him back, but it's too much tongue, too much teeth, and it shouldn't be as hot as it is. Shouldn't leave him so on the edge.

Steve reaches down, between Tony's already spread legs and cups him, through his pants. Tony breaks his mouth away from Steve, which is bad, definitely not what Steve wants, but so, so worth it when Tony leans into it, presses against Steve's hand and just starts to use him, use Steve's hand. Tony lets go of Steve completely and puts his hands behind him, palms spread on the mats, to brace himself. And it's like, with his knees up and legs open, his hands behind him - like he's just opening himself, giving himself to Steve, because as utterly gone as Tony is right now, he has to know how he looks.

Steve lets go of Tony, whose eyes snap open in annoyance that, jesus, Steve wouldn't let him come in his pants - Tony's brain is not in the driver's seat right now. "Hips," he says. "Get your hips up." And luckily that's enough because Tony lifts enough for Steve to pull his pants down and off.

Tony's briefs are tented and there's a small wet spot from where his dick has started to leak precum. The muscles in his belly flutter with his breath. Steve has to kiss him, so he does. Leans in and kisses him hard. Tony's neck bends at what should be a painful angle, but he keeps kissing back, the fingers of one hand pressing into Steve's neck, holding him there. Steve reaches down and grips Tony's cock, fingers curling around it through the cotton of his briefs. Steve slides his hand down, a slow, teasing slide from tip to base. Tony's hips jerk, and his mouth falls away from Steve's.

He takes in Tony's glazed eyes with satisfaction - he doesn't even have him naked yet. Steve pumps his cock, building an achingly slow rhythm. Tony's hand comes down to cover his. Steve lets Tony's fingers slip between his own, but fights him, keeps it slow.

Tony's eyes narrow dangerously. "Fuck this."

"Fuck what?"

Tony tries again to speed up Steve's hand. "You."

"Yeah, ok." Tony's mouth drops open. Steve isn't sure if he's stunned or blissed out, but either way it looks good on him. It only lasts a second.

Tony grins. "I'd have to be naked for that." Steve lets Tony pull his hand off, and watches Tony pull his briefs off. "I didn't know you were into that kind of thing."

Steve looks up, startled. "What?"

"Watching." Steve doesn't blush this time because he's past embarrassment - all he can think of is how hot that idea is.

Tony reaches for Steve, pulling him close. It's awkward, with Steve kneeling in the circle of his legs, bending to kiss him. Tony's hands wander between them. Steve stops him, distracts Tony by going back to his neck, now swollen red in places. Slides his hands down Tony's thighs, around to the underside, and pulls them up higher.

"What?"

"I want you on your back."

There's nothing like no in Tony's expression, so Steve gets a hand under Tony, at the small of his back, helps guide him down. Not that Tony needs it - Tony's muscles move under his hands, stronger than they've ever been.

He's got Tony on his back, with his legs wrapped around him. It's almost perfect - he shifts until their cocks are lined up, side by side, and then, he thinks, it is.

Steve gets lost in it for a while, until he thinks there's one thing that could make it even better. "Come on."

"What?" Tony says, trying to focus.

"Tell me."

Tony's annoyed for a second, just a second until that supergenius brain of his finally gets it. And then his lips curve in this wicked, dirty grin. Yeah, come on. "I need you to fuck me." Which he said before but Steve's willing to let that go. He really doesn't mind hearing that again.

"Sometimes-" Tony's words break off into a moan. "Sometimes I think about you at work. Your hands. Your perfect hands." Steve's hands are the only thing holding him up, keeping him from crushing Tony completely. Otherwise he'd be happy to give them to Tony. Feel Tony's lips wrap around his fingers, feel him take Steve in.

"Your mouth. How much I want to fuck it." Steve shudders against Tony. Almost loses it for a second, until Tony digs his heels into Steve's backside, urging him on.

"Lately, when Pepper's pissed off that I'm distracted during meetings, I'm not thinking about the armor, or my cars. I'm thinking about you. How much I need you to fuck me." Steve doesn't know how Tony is this coherent right now, but he will never, ever again complain about the times Tony can't seem to shut up.

"Like if you showed up there, right in the middle of a board meeting, I would let you do anything you wanted. Let you, god, push me down on that ridiculous table and fuck me, right there. Would you- would you like that?"

Steve was supposed to talk now?

"Fuck me in my office? I'd let you. Bend me over my desk."

"Yeah," he says. That's all he can say, because he's picturing it. Tony leaning over his glass desk, pants off but still in his shirt, his tie loosened. Just splayed across his desk, face pressed into the glass and Steve's behind him, in him.

Tony grabs his hair and pulls. He catches Steve's gaze and holds it, as if to say, I'm here. I'm with you now. Then he grins, dopey and edgy at once, like he just hit mach five over the Atlantic. "Is this how you like it?"

"Yeah."

Tony attacks him. Pulls him down for a kiss that leaves him panting, and so close to the edge. So close that he pulls his lips away from Tony's and buries his face in his neck. So close that he he can't help but thrust against Tony, rough and broken, until Tony moves with him, guides him into this perfect rhythm.

"Tony, Jesus."

Tony doesn't respond with words, just a low, guttural moan.

There's no way either of them is going to talk now. Steve hears himself making this sound, this whine. He sounds so needy, and he doesn't even care. He's nothing but feeling - Tony's hands in his hair, his legs around him, his cock against Steve's belly. The smell of his sweat.

Then Tony is holding him tighter, and Steve feels like he's shaking right out of his skin, and he's coming, all over Tony's belly. Tony moves against him for a few seconds more, his thrusts ragged, until he finishes.

When Steve comes back to himself, he's lying on Tony with his full weight. Tony, sprawled beneath him, looks half-asleep. Steve shifts off of him. "Sorry!"

"S'ok," Tony says, patting his arm absently. "I'm good."

"Yeah, you are." Tony laughs.

They lie there for a while and it's not awkward, but Steve knows Tony's going to have questions. Neither of them is big on talking about their feelings. Which, in the normal course of things, is a good thing, in Steve's opinion.

Finally, Tony seems to wake. He stretches and then sits up. He's a mess, hair sticking up and cum all over his belly. His neck is covered in hickeys from his collar bone to his ear. Oops.

"So, hey."

"Hey."

Tony looks like he's going to say something, then he quits. His expression closes.

Steve gets up and starts looking for his clothes. The first thing he finds are Tony's gloves. The rest of their clothes are halfway across the room, in all different directions.

"You know, I don't really want to talk about this."

Steve's stomach drops out and he has this moment of emotional panic. It's a strange feeling. He can't remember the last time he felt so much like running out of a room blind. And naked.

So don't, he wants to say. We don't have to talk at all - we can just grab our clothes and go take a shower together. But he started this, and he's not going to hide now, even though Tony would probably let him.

"It's just-" Steve doesn't really know how to say this. That's why the plan didn't involve much talking in the first place, but he owes it to both of them to be absolutely clear now, when it really counts. He turns back to Tony, who's wiping himself clean with a towel. "I'm not delicate."

Tony's eyebrows shoot up. "I never said that you were."

"No, you never said it."

"Steve, you're the least delicate person I know."

"Lately you act like I'm going to break if you get a little aggressive."

Tony laughs again, incredulous. "Ok, I don't even know what you're talking about."

"I think you do."

"Steve, come on. That's not fair. A few minutes ago I was trying to break open your face - not that I had any chance of actually hitting you. I guess I forgot how fast you are."

"Don't do this." Tony's shutting down, putting distance between them. Steve's gotten a whole lot better at reading Tony, since he started sleeping with him. This kind of thing is even more annoying, now that he knows when Tony's doing it.

Tony drops the towel and crosses his arms. It should be undignified - Tony trying to stare him down naked. But Steve sees it for the threat it is. "Don't do-" Steve cuts him off.

"Don't try to push me away again and tell yourself it's for my own good. I don't need you to protect me Tony, we're partners. And I don't need anyone to protect me from you. I already know you." Tony opens his mouth to counter him, but Steve keeps going. "You don't have any nasty skeletons in your closet that are going to make me leave you."

Tony stops forming a protest and the fight goes out of him. His arms drop to his sides and he sags against the table. But he's having trouble meeting Steve's eyes. "Tony." Steve doesn't want to let him pull away.

Tony looks up at him, smiling wryly. "So much for the afterglow."

"What?" Steve's surprised by the sudden reversal. He thinks for a second that this is another tactic, but Tony seems sincere.

"We seem to do this a lot. Fight about things that aren't worth fighting over. You'd think we'd know better."

"Well, to be fair..."

"It's mostly me?"

"I didn't want to say anything." Steve grins. This is probably the shortest fight they've ever had. If only they all ended so easily.

"It's ok, I can forgive the slight. In the interest of doing this," he waves at the gym, strewn with discarded clothes and, well, fluids. "Again. And again."

"Tony-" Tony crosses the room, stands close to him. Looks up at Steve with this soft expression.

"Hey, I get it. What you're trying to tell me is that you like it dirty." Tony grins, but cuts Steve off before he can say anything. "No really. I do get it." And maybe he does, because he's looking at Steve like... like he's found something incredible in him.

"I-" Tony's kissing him before he can say it. Tony's trying to shut him up, but he's ok with that. It can wait, a lot of things can, as long as Tony's not trying to push him away.

He pulls his lips away from Tony's, but keeps his arms wrapped around him. "Tony."

"Mmm?"

"What time is it?" Tony's eyes go distant for less than a second, checking the time through the extremis, then he's back, and looking like someone told him Kang is on a direct course for earth.

"Time to clean up the gym." Which he immediately starts doing. He pushes Steve away and grabs whatever articles of clothing are in grabbing distance, not bothering to get dressed.

Steve towels up the mess they left on the mat. He doesn't throw the towel into the gym's hamper - it can go in his laundry. Logan may be the only one of the team with enhanced senses, but he doesn't want to take the risk. For the embarrassment factor, if nothing else. He does a quick survey of the gym. Towels? Check. Water bottles? Check. Two sets of clothing including protective gloves? Check. Normally he would put the mats away, but he can come back for those later. "Are the others coming back?"

"Luke, Jess and Danielle are in the elevator." Tony heads out of the gym and Steve follows. They don't need to sneak around - Steve is pretty sure that every inch of Avengers Tower is visible to Tony through the security cams. Steve tells himself it's not an invasion of privacy when you're trying to, literally, cover your ass. There's something wrong with that logic that he's not going to examine just now.

"Damn."

"Yeah. Looks like family day took a turn for the worse." As it so often does with the Jones-Cages, but usually they retreat to Luke's favourite restaurant in Harlem. All the way across town. They don't get back until late afternoon, most Sundays.

Double damn, Steve thinks. Jarvis' all too-filling waffles. "I was hoping we'd have time for a shower."

"Hey we still do - my shower is soundproofed. If anyone asks, we were looking over the training schedule."

"You really are a genius."

"It's part of my charm."

"Yeah," Steve says. "It is." He knows he's got that stupid grin on his face again, but it's ok - this time so does Tony.