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Fury calls Steve early Friday afternoon. Steve hasn’t slept -- he had painted all night -- and then had taken his customary run in the morning. He had felt it -- subspace, according to Tony -- strongly for at least three hours, and then it had subsided slowly into normalcy after that. Nevertheless, Steve doesn’t feel like he’s missed any sleep. He isn’t sure that has anything to do with the subspace, though; since the serum, Steve is usually fine with missing a night of sleep.

“When can you be here?” Fury asks without preamble.

Steve considers this for a few seconds, pondering the time and the traffic, and eventually says, “Twenty-five minutes or so, depending on traffic.”

“I’ll see you then,” Fury says, and hangs up.

Steve looks thoughtfully at his phone. He has no idea what Fury wants, but his voice hadn’t been any gruffer than usual, so he isn’t exactly worried about it, either. The fact that Fury wants him at SHIELD rather than talking to him over the phone definitely means secrets, but Steve isn’t confused or surprised by that, either.

He doesn’t change clothes. He’s wearing jeans and the cream colored shirt that had come with the suit. He figures that if Fury had wanted him in uniform, he’d have mentioned it. Besides, Fury is apparently in a hurry.

Steve’s bike is parked on the street. At least three of his neighbors had mentioned that it might not be a good idea to do so, one of them giving him directions to a secure parking garage a block and a half away, but Steve hasn’t really considered moving it. He likes having it close enough to be able to get to it easily.

The traffic isn’t bad. He turns into the parking garage for SHIELD’s headquarters in New York with three or four minutes to spare. He has his own parking spot, and has had it since he’d bought the bike. One day he’d bought a bike, the next day the spot had appeared. Steve had tried to politely decline; no one had listened. So he parks in his allotted spot and makes his way to the security checkpoint. It takes a couple of minutes to get through -- Steve always has to do the retina scanner at least twice, as he can’t quite keep himself from flinching away at the first pass of red light -- and then he’s walking inside with no particular idea where he’s going.

He’d lived on the base for the last few months, but he’s still only seen Director Fury twice, and he’s never been near his office or command center or whatever it is he uses. Until he’d been assigned to liaise with Stark Industries, Steve hadn’t even actually realized that it was a SHIELD base rather than an Army base. His movements had been limited.

Agent Coulson falls into step at one side of him about fifty feet in, and says, “Director Fury’s waiting for you. If you’d come this way?” Coulson is apparently one of those rare men that can lead while staying directly in step with someone, so Steve doesn’t end up feeling like he’s trailing along behind him. He doesn’t try to make conversation, either, which Steve appreciates at the same time that it makes him feel even less like he’s one of them. He doesn’t exactly feel like a part of the U.S. Army any more, either. In fact, the only time like he feels like he’s comfortably where he’s supposed to be is when he’s alone with Tony Stark, and isn’t that something SHIELD and the Army would love to hear.

Steve doesn’t realize he’s smirking a little until Coulson throws an unassuming but inquiring look in his direction.

“Just thinking about how strange my life is,” Steve mutters with a little shrug.

“If it’s any consolation, this morning I had to write a report on the effect of bio-engineered flora on human sexuality. With video attachments and footnotes.” Coulson’s voice is wry.

“Seriously?” Steve asks, brows arched.

“Seriously,” Coulson says. “I’m not saying your life isn’t strange; I can only imagine what it must be like for you. But, like I said, if it helps, your life isn’t the only one that’s not what you were expecting.”

Steve gives Coulson a small smile. “It does help, actually,” he says truthfully. “Thank you.”

Coulson flushes faintly as he nods; Steve pretends not to notice, because he’s a gentleman. Coulson stops in front of a door. Distantly Steve can hear the murmur of other people speaking in quick, insistent tones. He assumes that way lies what passes for a command center here. The only thing about the door they’ve stopped at that distinguishes it from other doors that they’ve passed is that there is a cartoon drawing of a man in an eyepatch stomping up and down on the spine of a supine man in a suit. There are a series of symbols stringing out in a cartoon bubble that Steve recognizes as stand-ins for swear words.

“And he doesn’t mind that?” Steve asks curiously. The drawing has yellowed a bit and curled at the edges. It’s obviously been there a long time.

“He snarls every time he sees it,” Coulson says. “But he never takes it down.” His face is perfectly bland, but his voice has a very slight smiling tone. Steve raises his hand to knock, but Coulson murmurs, “Go right in; he’s expecting you.”

“Thanks,” Steve says. Coulson nods, and Steve opens the door and walks in.

There is nothing particularly special about the office. It’s of a good size and is neat and well-ordered, the computer display on the wall crammed with information, the desk itself strewn with files, but in a configuration that seems to indicate there is method in the arrangement. There’s a table in one corner large enough to seat three or four. A command staff table, Steve is guessing. There is a couch against the wall behind the desk.

Fury is standing by the desk, one file open, looking like he’s relaxed and ready to leap into action at the same time. Steve would smile, except he’s not sure Fury would appreciate it. Fury looks like Steve feels most of the time.

He doesn’t look up immediately, so Steve falls into parade rest and waits for him.

He’s not sure how long he’s been waiting -- less than two minutes -- when Fury kicks something next to the desk. It’s the contract briefcase.

“Do you know how many contracts Stark has signed for the U.S. Government in the last year?” Fury asks without looking up.

“No, sir,” Steve says.

“Two,” Fury says. He kicks the briefcase again. “And three for SHIELD. And all of those were for security measures for our in-country bases.”

Fury finally looks at Steve, calculating. “Which means that in the last ten days, you’ve managed to make him sign quadruple that number, apparently without even trying.” Fury twitches the open file. “Apparently, he’s willing to build you helicopters, Captain.”

“Most of what he’s signed are just preliminary contracts for Research and Development,” Steve hedges, not sure if he’s here to be interrogated or congratulated.

“This morning he brought in sixteen signed contracts,” Fury says.

Steve frowns slightly. There hadn’t been sixteen signable contracts in the last batch. There had been twelve, tops, and a couple of them had been questionable.

“Stark hasn’t willingly brought anything to the table since he stopped making weapons,” Fury tells Steve. “And this morning he brought in six specific contracts detailing things he’s had in development for months. Six contracts that I would have bet dimes to dollars that we’d never have access to.” Fury cocks his head at Steve. “What did you do to him?”

Steve blinks. “Um, nothing?” he says. “I helped him sort out the contracts that he would take from those that I was pretty sure he would never take. We talked about the uses for certain things in the field.” He pauses. “Okay, so the Yellowjackets I more or less begged for on bended knee.” No practically about it, of course. “But I didn’t do anything to him.”

Fury is looking at him steadily. “Did the Army give you... unconscionable orders?” he asks, the concern in his voice barely there.

Steve appreciates it anyway. “Not precisely. They were dubious orders, but they were loosely worded enough that I don’t feel constrained by them.”

“Does he know who you are?” Fury asks.

“No, sir,” Steve says. “I felt it better to keep that information private until or unless it concerns Mister Stark.” Fury looks at him pointedly, so Steve admits, “I’m not willing to dangle Captain America in front of him like bait.”

“So you’re saying he’s just taken a shine to you,” Fury says, the disbelief just as faint as the concern had been.

“I’m not trying to make him do anything he doesn’t want to do,” Steve says frankly. “I don’t cajole him about weapons he’s never going to build or try to convince him to cede the Iron Man technology to the military for the greater good. That they even feel like they need it is ridiculous. They’ve got War Machine, and they haven’t been able to reverse engineer anything from him. They can’t even effectively repair the suit they have. Colonel Rhodes goes to Tony for repairs. More importantly, the suit isn’t going to actually help them. They couldn’t afford to make them in any quantity. They just want the secret because they can’t stand not having it.”

“There’s also the matter of keeping the secret out of enemy hands, Captain,” Fury notes, but it doesn’t sound like he’s actually arguing.

“As long as Tony Stark is the only one that knows, it is effectively protected from falling into enemy hands, sir,” Steve says evenly.

“He’s a paranoid bastard, I’ll give you that,” Fury says. “Which brings us back around to the contracts. Why now, all of a sudden? Why you? Stark hasn’t had a meeting with a SHIELD liaison that lasted more than twenty minutes in the entire time we’ve had a liaison in place. But the first time you go to see him, the two of you stay locked up in his office for more than two hours and you come out with a briefcase full of bling. How?”

“You must have had some reason to think I could be successful when you gave me this assignment,” Steve says a little pointedly.

Fury sighs. “Honestly? I thought Captain America might have some success. I would have bet against Captain Steve Rogers.”

Steve thinks for several long seconds. The question isn’t how to lie to Fury. The question is, does he need to lie to Fury? For his own part, Steve doesn’t feel much of a need to. But whether or not Tony would want Fury to know -- if he should put this information into Fury’s hands, knowing that he might be able to use it against Tony in the future -- that’s the real question.

“Permission to speak off the record, sir?” Steve asks finally.

Fury frowns faintly. “Off the record apart from SHIELD, or entirely off the record?” he asks finally, and Steve is relieved that Fury is willing to admit that there is a difference.

“Entirely off the record, sir,” Steve says.

Fury looks like he’s musing over that for a long moment, and then moves over to the computer display and taps at it for a moment. A red square appears on the bottom of the screen.

“For the sake of global security, I can only keep that up for about two minutes,” he says. “Talk to me.”

“I’m sleeping with him,” Steve says.

Fury looks shocked, which should not be as funny as Steve finds it. Steve blames Tony.

“During our first meeting he indicated that he might be willing to exchange goods for services, and I agreed.”

“He bribed you?” Fury says, looking like he’s well on his way toward... well. Fury.

“That may have been his intention, but it would be more accurate to say that I allowed him to think he had bribed me in order to create a relationship in which he was willing to work with me,” Steve says. “I appreciate your concern, sir, but it’s not necessary. I’m a consenting adult.”

“I don’t know what the Army said to you, Captain, but you do not, under any circumstances, have to take off your clothes to fulfill orders,” Fury says.

“I didn’t. If I hadn’t been attracted to him, I would have deflected and tried another approach.” Steve’s cheeks heat a little. Fury is staring at him, still looking stunned. “I like him. I was willing. And the subject never came up with regards to the second batch of contracts. I told him I wasn’t willing to negotiate for contracts with sex, and he made no attempt to do so.”

“So,” Fury says, visibly trying to pull himself together. “You’re telling me that the U.S. Government and SHIELD’s ability to negotiate with Stark Industries is dependent on your willingness to keep having sex with Tony Stark?”

“I don’t believe so, sir. It would help a lot if the military stopped sending contracts that he’s never going to sign. It would also help if whomever you send with the contracts is able to actually converse fluently with him about what the object of the contract really is. He’s a genius, but he’s not a soldier. You and I know that some things look like weapons, but are really strictly defensive measures. He’s gun shy, and I don’t blame him. If it will help, I’ll prep anyone you decide to send to liaise with him.”

Steve will do all those things, if necessary, but he doesn’t think they’ll be necessary. And if they are, he doesn’t think that will actually change what he’s doing with Tony. The SHIELD liaison position is a good cover, but it’s not really necessary, if Tony still wants to do this thing.

But he’s right, it’s not necessary.

Fury says, “You’re fucking with me. You expect me to send in some random person to replace you, when you’ve already got a strong rapport with Stark. However you managed to get it.” Fury shakes his head, but smiles a little ruefully. “I’d have to be a moron to try and reassign you. Stark would shut down any attempt at replacing you.” He shakes his head again. “You keep surprising me,” he says. “You’re sure you don’t feel coerced in any way?”

“Not in the slightest, Director. If anyone tricked anyone, I tricked him. I don’t want this information used against Tony,” Steve says, his voice as commanding as he knows how to make it.

Fury holds up both hands, not in surrender, but as if to balance. “No one but me needs to know this, and I hope to never talk about Stark’s sex life ever again.” There is finally some amusement in his voice. Steve’s shoulders relax. “I do have a recommendation, however,” Fury says.

“Sir?” Steve asks.

“Tell him who you are. Stark does not like surprises. He won’t appreciate finding out after the fact.” Fury gives him a long look. “That’s not an order, but think about it. If he finds out and you aren’t the one that tells him, he’s going to react badly.”

“And SHIELD can’t afford that,” Steve says a little bitterly.

“I’d rather not have to deal with it. But that’s not why I recommended it.” He gives Steve another long look. “Dismissed.”

**

Steve spends the rest of Friday and well into the early hours of Saturday in SHIELD’s gym. It’s the only place he can go, really, where the fact that he kills punching bags on a regular basis isn’t grounds to throw him out. Not that he could do that in a public gym at all. It’s the kind of thing that would be noticed. Not to mention the fact that public gyms now are like weird, gleaming circus midways full of bizarre rides and people running for their lives without ever getting anywhere.

Steve’s preferred workout methods -- the bags and the free weights -- only occupy small, neglected corners of the gyms that Steve has investigated. They are not only places that would notice if Steve killed their heavy bags, but would probably make Steve pay for them as well.

He wonders idly if Stark Tower has a gym, and if it does, how Tony would feel about Steve’s bag killing. It would mean coming clean about being Captain America, but. Maybe Director Fury is right; maybe Steve should do that anyway. He doesn’t doubt Fury’s assessment of Tony’s probable reaction if he were to find out via some avenue other than Steve. And it might be nice, not to have to hide it.

He laughs a little, sweat damp hair falling across his forehead, and stops before he kills this particular bag, using both hands to still its momentum.

If he confessed his issues with heavy bags, Tony, he’s willing to bet, would take it as a challenge to create a bag that Steve couldn’t kill. Moreover, Tony would probably succeed. He would crow gleefully about his own genius, but he’d also be genuinely pleased to have provided Steve with something he couldn’t get elsewhere.

“I’ll ask him,” he says out loud, and begins to unwrap his hands. I’ll tell him, he thinks a little less certainly. He’s half-hard in his jeans and realizes that he has been for a while. He’d like to do something about it, but the idea that he can’t is enough to make him even harder. Which is enough to make him smile.

His life is very, very strange.

He glances at the neatly hung cream colored button up that he’d taken off before he’d started working out, and then thinks about his sweaty chest. He could shower here to avoid getting the shirt sweaty -- it’s a nice shirt; it’s his only nice shirt, actually -- but then he considers his erection. The clock on the wall tells him it’s a little after three in the morning, but that doesn’t mean a lot here. Agents work all hours of the day and night, and there are already a half a dozen people in the room doing other things. He’s not embarrassed, exactly, and normally an inappropriately timed erection wouldn’t stop him.

But normally an inappropriately timed erection would deflate if Steve ignored it for a couple of minutes, and he’s quite sure that this one is going to be a lot more persistent. He shrugs on the shirt and buttons it up. There’s a dry cleaner two blocks from Steve. He’ll walk the whole suit over in the morning. The pants and coat probably don’t really need it, but if Steve needs it again, he’d like to be sure it’s crisp and clean and ready. He tells himself he’ll go out and buy himself some nice shirts and slacks, even though he knows he probably won’t.

He is adapting. Not as quickly as he might like, and he has days where he feels like he’s in a foreign country, but he is. But he’s never had the money to shop anyplace but second-hand stores, and the idea of going into any of the glass and chrome monstrosities Steve has come across makes his palms sweat nervously. He isn’t even sure how he would talk to the people inside.

It occurs to him that Tony would know exactly how to talk with them, but he’s not quite willing to picture himself trying to explain to Tony why he needs help. Maybe if he tells Tony who he really is, it won’t seem so daunting to ask for help.

His bike is exactly where he left it, and Steve is grateful for the breeze once he’s riding toward home. It dries most of the sweat and clears his head a little, though the rumble of the engine does nothing at all to assuage his erection. He parks on the street, a little amazed that he gets an open space less than half a block from his apartment, and tosses his keys absently in one hand as he takes the stairs up two at a time.

**

He knows as soon as he opens the door that someone has been inside. It’s not just a hunch, though he feels that, too. It’s the smell. He can smell food. He moves inside slowly, locking the door almost silently behind him, and carefully moves through the entire apartment, checking for intruders in every place he can think to look. When he’s sure there isn’t anyone there, at least not anymore, he goes back to the kitchen and looks at the arrangement on the bar.

There is a bottle of Yoohoo, cool to the touch, but not ice cold, so it’s been here a little while. A small card in front of the bottle says ‘Drink Me.’ Steve huffs out a little laugh -- he’s a little shocked that Tony had managed to use a reference that Steve actually gets. He doesn’t actually recognize Tony’s handwriting, but he has no doubt that it is Tony’s handwriting.

There’s a bag with two styrofoam containers inside that smells mouth-wateringly of Chinese food. Steve isn’t sure if Tony had somehow known that Steve had skipped dinner. It wouldn’t surprise him. The card in front of the bags says ‘Eat Me.’

The third item on the table is a square, sealed box. Steve can’t begin to guess what’s in it by the shape, and is considering ripping it open to see, but the card on the counter in front of it says, ‘Trust me.’ Steve stares at it for long moments, and then moves back down the bar and twists the cap off the Yoohoo and opens the food. He drinks the whole bottle of Yoohoo, but eats only about half the Chinese. He’s hungry enough to eat more, but he’s too focused on what’s in the box to bother finishing. He does put the leftovers in the ‘fridge; he’s sure to eat them for breakfast tomorrow at the very least.

He takes a final glance at the box, then strips down and takes a very brief shower, mostly to wash away the sweat of his workout. He pulls on pajama bottoms, and then makes his way back to the bar and the box. The box has a thumbprint pad on the bottom, and Steve presses his thumb against it without hesitation. It makes a little hissing noise, as though the box had been pressurized, and then the whole thing unfolds into a flat surface.

The thing inside it immediately makes Steve’s face hot. It’s the red and gold of the Iron Man suit -- Steve sincerely doubts that is a coincidence -- and the shape of it doesn’t leave much doubt as to what it’s for. The flat surface of the boxes front flap says, ‘Use Me.’

Steve picks it up -- it’s surprisingly heavy. Beneath it, on the box, is a short list of instructions. You won’t need lube, it says. Just position it and press the button on the bottom. The rest will just happen.

The thing has a long, slender protrusion about the size of one of Tony’s fingers, and the base is wide enough that Steve isn’t worried about it accidentally slipping inside as well. Despite it being entirely made of metal, it feels perfectly smooth under Steve’s exploratory fingertips, nothing to catch on or drag at him inside. He can’t tell if that’s a good thing or not. He’s already conflating the device with the suit, whether it’s a good idea or not. The paint job, partially, but also because there’s something about the suit that Steve wants. Maybe just the idea that, in the suit, Tony actually probably could manhandle Steve in such a way that Steve would have to really struggle against to get away.

He considers waiting. He’s tired and it will still be there in the morning.

But his cock is dragging his pajama bottoms into a tent.

He picks it up and carries it with him into the bedroom, shedding his pajamas as he crosses the room to get to the bed. He wonders if this thing is designed to actually get him off, or if he’ll be even harder, afterward. He wouldn’t put it past Tony to leave him desperate that way.

Nevertheless, he lies down on his bed and positions himself, the small tip of the thing pressed against his hole. He takes a deep breath and pushes the button. He feels the lube drip from the tip, and spreads it carefully before he slides the device inside cautiously. It’s cool and unfamiliar, but it stretches him a little, the bottom of it wider than the tip, and Steve breathes out heavily as it does. He grips the sides of the base and rocks it gently, shivering, and it’s good, but Steve isn’t sure what else he’s supposed to do.

Even as he’s wondering, his phone rings. Steve would ignore it, except he’s certain it’s Tony. He fumbles for it on the bedside table and eventually stabs at the answer button. “Fuck, finally,” Tony breathes. “I didn’t think you were ever getting home.”

“I don’t know what to do,” Steve says without embarrassment.

“That’s the beauty of it, Captain. You don’t have to do anything. Put the phone on speaker.” Steve struggles with that for a few seconds before Tony talks him through the right screen to engage the speaker phone. “Now put it on your pillow.”

Steve does, hands trembling a little.

“How long did it last?” Tony asks, his voice greedy and a little manic.

“It was, it took about three hours before it started to wind down,” Steve admits. He nudges at the toy inside him and inhales at the movement inside him.

“Don’t touch,” Tony murmurs.

Steve reluctantly draws his hand away. Tony’s voice, warm and confident in his ear makes Steve blush to know that Tony knows what he’s doing at the same time that it soothes him. He doesn’t need to know what he’s doing. Tony knows.

“Lengthen, fifty percent,” Tony murmurs, and Steve doesn’t have time to be puzzled as the thing inside him shifts and grows, pressing deeply into Steve. Steve’s breathing stutters as he wriggles against his sheets, resisting the urge to slide his hand back down between his thighs. “Good?” Tony asks.

“Yes,” Steve gasps. “Tony.” He would do almost anything for Tony to be here, to be able to see Tony’s face.

Tony says, “Width, forty percent,” and the shift inside Steve is even more dizzying and abrupt as the shaft of the thing Tony had made for him widens, stretching Steve’s hole and pressing against him inside, forcing him to open wider. Steve groans at the feel of it, and winds his hands in the sheets. He can feel himself trembling at the invasion, at the bizarre way that it feels both impersonal and definitively connected to Tony at the same time.

“This is me fucking you, Captain,” Tony says. “Taking your ass without laying a finger on you.” Steve chokes out something that probably can’t be considered a response. “Penetration, twenty percent,” Tony says, and the thing inside Steve starts to move, smoothly sliding in deeper and then back, the movement only inside, the base of the thing is pressed still against Steve’s hole. Steve pants and tries rocking his hips, but the movement inside him is inexorable and not quite enough. “Prostate stimulation,” Tony murmurs, and the whole thing twists and arches until the tip is glancing across that place inside Steve that makes him arch and groan hoarsely. He can feel his body, damp with sweat again, and it’s good, it is amazing and makes Steve feel entirely helpless at the same time, but he still wants Tony there with him, wants Tony to see and tell Steve how he looks.

“Want you here,” Steve pants, and Tony gives him a low chuckle.

“I want to be there. I want to see. But this is going to have to be enough this time.” He doesn’t say why, and Steve doesn’t ask. He just whines, and Tony’s says, “Knot him.”

Steve has no idea what that means, until there is an abrupt press against his hole, the device widening outside him as it presses forward at the same time. Steve cries out, half-pain and half-surprise as the thickness forming at the base pushes, pushes and then stretches Steve’s hole wide as it finally works its way inside. He can feel it inside him, pressing him open. “What?” he moans. “Tony, what?”

Tony says, “Penetration, fifty percent,” and abruptly Steve can feel the whole device shifting inside him, pulling out this time, so that he can feel it stretching his hole, and then shoving its way back inside, so that Steve’s head rocks back and he whines. “Width sixty percent,” Tony says, and Steve writhes as it stretches him, the thick knot at the base holding it inside even as it drags out and then in again. It doesn’t feel like a cock, not really, and Steve’s mind is jagged with humiliation at the idea of coming apart for it, but he can feel it happening.

“Harder,” he pants, helpless and begging.

“Penetration, seventy percent,” Tony says obligingly and Steve’s hips jerk and rock upward. “Good, that’s so good,” Tony murmurs. “Just take it, don’t think,” and some of Steve’s humiliation recedes at the instructions while the rest of his body tenses and writhes.

“Need,” Steve begs, not entirely sure what he’s begging for. “Tony, need....”

“Pulse,” Tony says, and the thing expands inside his ass, pressing him open and jabbing against his prostate, and Steve whines. “Lengthen, seventy percent, Penetration, eighty-five percent,” and though Steve’s body isn’t jerking in time with another body, he is all over his bed, hips jerking and back arching, and he wants to come so badly he can only whine. “Roll over,” Tony tells him, and Steve does it without question, his sheets abruptly pressed against his cock feeling like the best thing he’s ever felt. “Better?”

“Yes, please, Tony, please,” Steve begs and jerks his hips down against his bed while the arousal in the pit of his belly begins to twist and expand.

“I’m going to come inside you,” Tony says, the toy jerking into and out of Steve, the thick knot just inside him burning as it pulls back against his hole. Steve heaves out a breath, feeling gut punched at how much he wants that, even if it’s not Tony, even this bizarre electronic extension of Tony, and he had missed it last time, missed the feel of Tony jerking into his ass.

“Please,” Steve whines. “Please.”

“Prostate stimulation level two,” Tony says, and the thing inside Steve shifts and is suddenly dragging its entire length along Steve inside, there, right there where it’s impossible to stop from crying out hoarsely at each stroke. “Good, Captain, you sound amazing, you’re taking it so well for me.” Steve realizes that Tony’s voice is low and hoarse and hitching, and he imagines Tony stroking himself to the sounds of Steve being taken apart by Tony’s toy, and he clenches tight everywhere helplessly, clenches his ass around the toy which is still working him over.

“You, are you?” Steve groans, and Tony answers with a soft, throaty moan.

“Almost, so close. Rub yourself off against your bed, let me hear you,” Tony demands, and Steve works his hips fiercely, grinding, not holding anything back, letting his moans and sounds of desperation fill the air of his bedroom. Tony groans, low and deep, and says roughly, “Now,” and Steve hears Tony panting and the thing inside him grows thicker and jerks deeply, and the knot inside his hole pulses twice, hard enough to make Steve gasp, and then he can feel it pumping inside him, hot enough to be come, slick enough to make Steve’s breath stick in his throat, and then Steve is coming too, his cock feeling friction-hot and his balls aching as he struggles against the continued motion of the device inside him and shudders through his orgasm at the same time.

“All stop,” Tony says, once Steve has stopped crying out and is just whining a little with oversensitivity. The thing inside Steve immediately stops pressing into him. He feels it withdraw and narrow, and a moment later it’s sliding out of him, Steve’s ass too loose to hold it in.

“Loose right now,” Steve slurs without an ounce of shame. “Ready for cock. Could slip it right in, like you want.”

Tony lets out a long, shaky breath. “You are a dangerous man, Captain,” he says, sounding serious, but also sounding satisfied, like he likes Steve that way. “I will definitely take you up on that at some point, but not tonight.”

“Cruel,” Steve pants, and means it, though he is also, somehow, satisfied that it should be so.

Tony laughs. “You have no idea. Tomorrow night, any time after six. I’m having Fury transfer all files electronically from this point on, so you can dispense with the briefcase.” He pauses. “How do you feel?”

Steve struggles over onto his back. “Like I just got molested by a tiny robot,” he says honestly, his voice again a little slurred.

“Yeah? Do you feel violated, Captain?” Tony’s voice is a husky rasp.

“Yes,” Steve sighs. “Yes, but...”

“Hmm,” is all Tony says. “Put the tiny robot in the dishwasher to sanitize it. I’ll need to check on it occasionally to make sure it has all necessary fluids, but otherwise it’s yours to use as you like. Or yours to be used by, as you like.”

“Don’t know how to give it directions,” Steve murmurs.

“You don’t need to. It alerts me when you use it. I can control it anytime I want. But it’s pre-programmed for certain things, so if I can’t respond with specific instructions, it will run through variations of its programming. You’re never to touch yourself while it’s inside you.” Tony sounds like he’s smiling, but his tone is sharp. “You can rub off against something, but you don’t touch your cock. You’ll either come on the dildo, or you won’t come at all.”

“Okay, Tony,” Steve sighs out, sleepy and sated.

“You can give the all stop command,” Tony says quietly. “Other than the button, that’s the only control you have over it. But it’s got a basic command dictionary and a random compliance logarithm. If you want something enough to beg, it will sometimes comply.”

“How?” Steve whispers, shivering a little. “How did you...?”

“It’s one of a kind. I made it last night. I couldn’t sleep.” Tony sounds amused.

“I didn’t sleep either,” Steve confesses. “I painted.”

“Will you be able to sleep tonight?” Tony asks.

“Yeah, I think so,” Steve says. “I... well, I’m pretty relaxed.”

“Good,” Tony says with satisfaction. “Don’t do anything else tonight. You can clean everything up tomorrow. I want you to roll over and go to sleep. You’re going to have a busy evening.”

“Okay, Tony,” Steve agrees sleepily. He rolls over so that he’s facing the phone and pulls his covers up over his shoulders. The toy bumps up against his thigh; he ignores it.

“Don’t wear your uniform tomorrow,” Tony nearly whispers. “As lovely as you look in it, I’d like to see you dressed down.”

“Okay, Tony,” Steve agrees.

“Sleep well, Captain,” Tony says. A moment later the phone beeps a notification of a disconnected call, but Steve is already well on his way to sleep.

**

Steve sleeps until nearly ten in the morning, and wakes up groggy and perplexed at the angle of the light coming in through the open bedroom door. He struggles upright to get a look at the clock on the wall and simply gapes at it for a long moment. He never sleeps this late. Moreover, he never feels like he could turn over and sleep some more if he wanted to like he does right now.

His stomach rumbles, and he understands, at least, what had awakened him. He just sits for a moment, and then feels around the bed until he finds the toy Tony had made (for him). The metal is warm from being next to his skin. Steve considers lying back and pressing it into himself again -- he shudders a little at the idea -- and then forces himself to get up and slide on his pajama bottoms. Mindful of Tony’s instructions, he takes the toy to the dishwasher and settles it into the top rack. He could add the handful of dishes in the sink, there’s plenty of room, but he can’t quite bring himself to wash a sex toy with anything that he’s going to eat off of. Instead he puts soap into the little compartment and closes and locks the dishwasher and turns the knob to start it.

He eats cold leftover Chinese food standing up in the kitchen, drinking three glasses of orange juice as he does, and once he’s fed and hydrated feels a lot more like himself.

He showers thoroughly, blushing as he washes between his ass cheeks and the backs of his thighs, where he’s sticky from the toy coming inside him. The memory of that pulsing pressure clenches in his belly and firms up his cock. Steve ignores them both, and washes his hair and body, and then his cock, gingerly, not for pleasure, but just for personal hygiene. He shaves carefully and dresses in jeans and (he is both embarrassed and fiercely unashamed) his tightest t-shirt. He’s not above trying to impress Tony.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem like he’s above much of anything when it comes to Tony.

He feels like he should be more bothered by that, but he just isn’t.

The idea of Tony’s toy makes him blush and cringe a little, but the toy combined with Tony’s call makes his chest and belly warm. It’s nice to know that Tony hadn’t been able to wait. Or, at least, that Tony had chosen not to wait. That Tony might actually want this as much as Steve does.

Steve doesn’t have plans for the day. He’d have taken a run if he’d woken on time, but he still feels loose and relaxed from last night, and doesn’t feel the need to run, either to work out, or to fill time until that evening.

He’s pondering what to do to fill up the day when there’s a knock at his apartment door. Steve starts a little in surprise -- no one ever knocks on his door; even Tony just breaks in whenever he decides to visit -- but goes to answer it anyway, since what else is he going to do?

The woman outside is tall and willowy, a strawberry blonde, dressed in such a sleek, business-like skirt suit that Steve wonders for a few seconds if she has the wrong address. Then he recognizes her from her file, and says, surprised, “Miss Potts. What brings you here?”

“I’m sorry to drop by unannounced, Captain Rogers,” she says, smiling. She’s got a wonderful smile, open and welcoming. “May I come in?”

“Sure, of course,” Steve says, and steps away from the door so that she can move past him into the apartment. Steve shuts the door and watches her look around. He realizes too late that the painting of the arc reactor is still on his easel. There’s nothing to be done about it except watch her looking at it, head a little cocked as though in curiosity.

“Mister Stark mentioned that you were an artist,” she says. “It’s an interesting project.”

“It’s one of the most amazing things created by mankind,” Steve says. “I could hardly help myself.”

“I’m surprised he let you see it,” Miss Potts says, abruptly looking at Steve now, her gaze intent.

“Honestly, so was I,” Steve says, and doesn’t expand on that. Miss Potts watches him for another handful of seconds, and then apparently decides to let it go. “Is there something I can do for you, ma’am?”

She laughs, throaty and honesty. “Please, Pepper. I don’t let any of the beautiful young men call me ma’am.” Steve blushes, and she laughs again. “Tony was right. You’re completely adorable.”

Steve isn’t sure what to say, so he repeats the question. “Is there something I can do for you?”

“Actually, it’s what I can do for you,” Pepper says firmly. “Tony mentioned that your wardrobe currently consists of things strictly for work and things strictly for play, since you just got back from the war.” Her brow furrows in concern, as though she isn’t sure she ought to mention it.

“It’s pretty slim,” Steve agrees, mostly to soothe her. “It’s not that I don’t have the time or the money to expand it. I just...” he trails off, unsure of how to explain it.

“You’re used to shopping to fit a limited budget and you don’t know where to go now that your resources are less limited.”

“How do you know that?” Steve asks, perhaps a little sharply.

Pepper doesn’t seem bothered with it. “Mister Stark does background checks on all of his employees.”

“I don’t work for Mister Stark,” Steve says.

“Actually, you do,” Pepper tells him. “The SHIELD liaison position is paid for by Stark Industries, regardless of your other sources of income. Your background check showed a large deposit a few months ago that was designated as a military windfall -- if you wanted to tell either me or Mister Stark exactly what that’s about, I assure you we’re both dying to know -- and you’re currently drawing a salary from the U.S. Army, from SHIELD, and from Stark Industries. Of the three, you probably won’t be surprised to know that only Stark Industries is paying you what you’re actually worth. Anyway.” She waves a dismissive hand. “Not the point. The point is, your background check made it clear that you had a very low income childhood, previous to the Army. Tony thought you might need a hand figuring out where to shop and how to get what you need there.”

Steve blinks stupidly in response and reminds himself to take a look at his own background as soon as he gets the chance. It seems like SHIELD has managed to leave in several general details without any of the damning early timeframe stuff. It seems like something he should have been given, so at the very least he knows what he’s allowed to talk about.

Steve sighs. “Well, he’s not wrong,” he admits. “I just didn’t think he was going to do anything about it.” He looks at Pepper. “This is, I mean obviously you have better things to do.”

She laughs again brightly. “I have a mountain of paperwork, that’s true. The question is whether or not I want to do that, or if I’d rather take part of the afternoon off to go shopping with one of Tony’s very few friends.” She gives him a calm look, though she’s still smiling slightly. “You can have three guesses, but the first two don’t count.”

Steve smiles. “I don’t know how to talk to people,” he warns.

“You’re doing fine with me,” Pepper says, and grabs his hand. “I’ll worry about the rest of them.”

So Steve goes shopping with Pepper. He’s awkward about picking out things he likes and doesn’t, and once she catches on to that, she sends him into dressing rooms and has him wait until sales staff bring things in for him to try on. Then he ends up doing some kind of weird modeling exercises, while Pepper sits sipping at an iced coffee and tells him to go try on the red shirt with the same slacks and come back and let her see. Steve doesn’t see the appeal of this at all, but Pepper seems to be having a great time.

“The gray with the silvery sheen and the black and blue striped,” she tells the clerk. “Can you not see the shoulders on him?”

Like with Tony’s tailor, Pepper only lets him bring home one outfit -- slate gray slacks and the dark grey button up with the silvery sheen -- and leaves the rest at Mister Oldham’s to be fitted. Mister Oldham apparently knows Pepper well enough to be pleased to see her, and the two chat about the fabrics and cuts amicably while Steve waits and wonders when it will all be over. Mister Oldham accepts the three bulging shopping bags from Steve, giving him a brief, narrow glare, and then beams at Pepper.

Pepper walks back to Steve’s building with him, chatting mostly about what ensemble is going to look best on Steve. Steve isn’t sure how to tell her that he’d hated their outing, especially because he had been absolutely right about shopping. He never would have managed it without her help.

It isn’t until they’re in front of his building -- Pepper’s car crawling along discreetly behind them -- that Steve realizes that he had at no point been asked to fork over his debit card for anything.

Pepper makes a shushing noise, as though she can read his mind. “Stark Industries has accounts with every store we went to, and you are not even close to the first employee we’ve assisted with wardrobe difficulties. Even I have used them, and I make a ridiculous amount of money.” She smiles kindly at Steve and rests a hand on his forearm. “Tony isn’t trying to buy you.”

“I didn’t think he was,” Steve replies, surprised. “I just feel like I’m taking advantage.”

Pepper shakes her head, her smile going a little edged. “Don’t. If you’re ever taking advantage, I promise you that I’ll tell you, even if Tony might not. This is just Tony’s way of making sure you know that you’re one of his people.”

Steve shifts uncomfortably. All the press says that Tony and Pepper are an item. Even their files at SHIELD had stressed that the two of them enjoyed a close personal, as well as professional, relationship. It’s the first time Steve has considered that he might be poaching, and he doesn’t like the way that feels at all.

“May I ask you a personal question, Miss Potts?” Steve asks softly.

“Pepper,” she says. “And you may.”

“Are you and Mister Stark romantically involved?” Steve hopes his embarrassment at the question isn’t as obvious as it probably is, but he feels like he has to ask it.

“We were. Briefly,” she says. “I think we both knew it wasn’t going to work out. We’re very good friends, but we’re not dating.” She bites her lip a little, giving Steve a narrow look, that, while piercing, is still fairly friendly. “Why do you ask?”

Steve blushes and looks away, trying to think of a good answer.

Pepper laughs, but kindly. “I wondered,” she says. “Good luck to you, and I’m not trying to warn you off, but Tony.... Well, he can be kind of oblivious about things. And he doesn’t have a good track record for longevity.” She rests her hand on Steve’s arm again. “Don’t let that discourage you, though. He’s already... well, let’s just say that while Stark Industries often clothes it’s employees, they don’t usually get the CEO as their personal shopper.”

“I appreciate...” Steve begins, but Pepper snorts.

“You hated every second of it,” she says knowingly. “But don’t worry, you’re not likely to have to do it again any time soon. The stores we visited will keep your measurements and style preferences on file, and you can shop online and have things delivered directly to Oldham’s for fitting.”

“Never shopped online,” Steve admits, which Pepper does respond to with surprise.

“I’ll come up for ten minutes, just for the basics,” she decides and marches Steve up to his door.

It’s more like half an hour, but once Steve grasps how the system works, he has no problems. Pepper bookmarks two dozen stores for Steve to choose from, and then refuses to let Steve stop her when she creates accounts for him and fills in the billing section with Stark Industries information.

“Pepper,” Steve objects, almost whining, he’s embarrassed to note.

“Steve,” she says sharply. He shuts his mouth and looks at her. “You can change the billing information any time you want. But believe me when I tell you that you could buy out every store you have an account with, and it would still not put a dent in Stark Industries budget. Besides.” She smiles a little, eyes at half mast. “Tony will love seeing you wearing things he paid for.” She’s very matter of fact about it.

Steve’s face feels like it’s going to burst into flame.

She pats his cheek.

“It’s fine,” she murmurs. “It really is.”

“Thanks for doing this for me,” Steve says, helplessly sincere.

Pepper grins. “You are a pleasure to do things for, Steve Rogers. Give me your phone.” Steve hands it over and lets Pepper enter her number in it. “If you need anything you don’t know how to get, you call me. I may not always have time to see to it personally, but I can always spare a minion or two to help you out. Promise me.”

“I promise,” Steve says with a little sigh. “You’re being too good to me.”

Pepper’s face grows serious. “Tony tells me you almost died in the war.” Steve nods and swallows, but says nothing. “He also says that you’re the first liaison from either SHIELD or the military that doesn’t act like he owes you something.”

“He doesn’t owe anyone anything,” Steve says, surprised.

Pepper nods. “But it’s a rare man that thinks so, Steve. It’s even rarer for Tony to recognize it and want to make something out of it.” Her tone is candid. “He doesn’t have a lot of people in his life that don’t expect anything of him other than for him to be Tony. He thinks you’re one of them. I was dubious, but I’m not anymore. I hope you’ll stick around, and if there’s anything I can do to make that happen, all you have to do is call. Even if you just need to rant about Tony’s more infuriating habits, I can handle that for you. Just don’t... don’t bail.”

“I’m still a commissioned officer in the U.S. Army,” Steve reminds her solemnly. “As long as it’s in my power, I don’t intend to bail. But I don’t always get what I want.”

Pepper looks grim. “We can take care of that, too, when the time comes,” she says.

Steve considers that, and decides not to ask. Better not to know things he might have to disavow knowledge of later.

“Pepper,” Steve says. She smiles widely at him for using her name. “Thanks.”

“Any time. I mean it.” She surprises him by wrapping her arms around his waist and giving him a firm, friendly hug. Steve hugs back gingerly, ultra aware of his strength, but wallowing in it anyway. He can’t remember the last time he’d been hugged.

“Thanks,” Steve says again, maybe a little unsteadily, as she pulls back and gives him her warm, kind smile.

“It was my pleasure,” she says, and Steve is pretty sure she’s telling the truth.

**

Less than an hour after Pepper leaves, there’s an unprecedented second knock at his door. Steve, bemused, answers it.

A man in sunglasses gives him a long, speculative look, and then holds out a hand and offers him a small rectangular piece of plastic.

“Contracts,” he says shortly. “If, for some reason, you’re in danger of losing the device, destroy it.”

Steve examines the device for a moment. He doesn’t know what to do with it, but he’s sure Tony will.

“It’s a flash drive,” the man tells him. He’s got sandy hair and is short, but built broad, wide shoulders and chest, thick biceps visible through the short sleeves of his t-shirt.

“You’re an Agent?” Steve asks.

The man gives a single nod. “Clint Barton. Either bring the drive to Fury yourself when you’re done with it or call SHIELD and someone will come pick it up. It will be someone you recognize, so for now, probably me or possibly Coulson. If you don’t recognize the pick up Agent, do not release the drive.”

“Clear,” Steve says.

“You look great, by the way,” Barton says. “Modern clothes suit you.”

“Ah,” Steve says, a little surprised by the fact that Agent Barton clearly knows about him. “Um, thanks.”

Barton smirks. “See you later, Captain Rogers.”

Steve watches as he turns on his heel and walks off, all grace and economy of motion, definitely a trained fighter. He wonders if delivery and pickup of the flash drive is a punishment detail for him, or a sign of SHIELD’s faith in him.

Steve closes the door, locks it, and tosses the flash drive in his palm.

Then he changes out of his new ‘modern clothes’ and back into his jeans and t-shirt. A small part of him wants to wear the new clothes -- mostly, he thinks, because of what Pepper had said; that Tony would like seeing Steve in clothes that Tony had bought for him -- but he’s more concerned about following Tony’s instructions, which had been to dress down. The new clothes might be considered dressing down from his uniform, but they’re still pretty upscale.

Steve makes himself an omelette for dinner, tossing in fresh onions, mushrooms, and peppers with grated cheese. He eats a little early, because Tony had told him to. Not this time, but the last time, and he suspects it has to do with bedroom athletics and uncomfortably full bellies. Or office athletics, so far. Though it had been bedroom last night.

But that had been quick, really. Steve is blessed with a very brief refractory period, but he also seems not to have much in the way of restraint, either. He isn’t sure if that’s because of his lack of experience, or if it’s more down to the kind of sex he’s been having. He wonders if not being allowed to touch himself will help him with his restraint, or hinder it.

He puts it out of his mind while he strips down his bed and remakes it with clean sheets. He’ll have to wash the ones he’d come all over last night. Then he takes the toy out of the dishwasher and places it experimentally on the bottom square of the box it had come in. The box -- Steve had thought it was plastic; now he isn’t sure what it is -- beeps and folds up around the toy, hissing a little as the top closes. He can’t quite keep himself from grinning a little at the fact that Tony had made him a sex toy and then had made that sex toy a tiny, innocuous safe. He puts it in the drawer of his night stand.

**

At just before five, he gathers up the suit and walks it down to the dry cleaners, the flash drive tucked into his right front pocket. He fills out the paperwork -- that’s one of the things he can’t get over, the amount of paperwork it takes to do anything -- and walks down another block to a place that makes good smoothies. It’s too early to go to the tower yet, so Steve kills time at the smoothie bar and pokes his head into some of the little shops along the street that leads in the right direction.

At five minutes to six, Steve turns his attention toward the most direct path to the tower. He’s only been walking for about a minute when his phone chirps in his back pocket. Steve has learned how to text, though he hasn’t actually done it much, and recognizes the sound as an incoming text message.

Will be late; IM related. Let yourself in. Don’t go exploring.

Steve locks his phone and slides it back into his pocket. His shoulders are tight at the idea that Tony’s doing something Iron Man related, which means possibly something dangerous, and that he’s out there doing it alone. Not that he can’t take care of himself; Iron Man is always alone. But that Steve might be able to help, if Tony knew everything.

I’ll tell him, Steve thinks firmly, as though giving himself an order, and continues to walk toward the tower, his stomach a knot.

The front door is locked. Steve, experimentally, says, “JARVIS?”

The door clicks open. “Welcome, Captain Rogers,” JARVIS says as Steve lets himself inside. “Please make use of Mister Stark’s private elevator. It is now keyed to your voice print, and no longer requires an access card.”

Steve blinks, but says, “Thank you, JARVIS.”

“You’re entirely welcome, Captain Rogers,” JARVIS says, and sounds sincere. His voice moves with Steve as he walks; Steve looks around, but doesn’t see any speakers. “Mister Stark apologizes for his tardiness and asks that you make yourself comfortable in the penthouse. Do you require food or drink to be delivered?”

“No, JARVIS, I ate before I came, thanks. Tony doesn’t keep anything to drink up there?”

“Several varieties of alcohol, coffee, and several types of tea are available to you, Captain,” JARVIS tells him. “If you require anything further, I am capable of having it delivered to you.”

“Thanks, but I’m okay for now,” Steve says. He confronts the elevator and pushes the up button. A red glow lights the buttons, and Steve tries, “Captain Steve Rogers,” which is apparently adequate. The doors open, and Steve steps inside. There isn’t a button labeled penthouse, and he’s pretty sure the eighty-fifth floor (the one that is comprised of Tony’s offices) isn’t actually the top of the tower. He ponders for a moment, and then says, “Penthouse,” and the elevator jerks gently into motion.

Steve is silent for a few long moments, and then asks, “JARVIS?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Do you know what Iron Man is doing?” He isn’t sure if he should ask, and is even less sure that JARVIS will tell him, but he’s kind of glad to be wrong.

“There is a fire on the fifty-eighth floor of the Zenith building. It is so far contained to that floor, but there are several employees trapped inside. The fire itself is under the control of the NYFD, but they requested Iron Man’s assistance in rescuing the people for the sake of expediency.” JARVIS pauses. “I assure you, Mister Stark is quite safe. He often assists the fire and police departments in situations in which speed is essential.”

Steve’s belly unknots a little. “Thanks, JARVIS.”

The elevator stops and Steve steps out into the open, airy living space of the penthouse. JARVIS raises the lights enough that Steve can look around, but Steve is mindful of Tony’s instructions not to go exploring. He looks over the spacious living area, which is bordered by a low bar behind which a smallish kitchen is nestled. On the wall perpendicular to that -- which isn’t quite right, because the penthouse isn’t actually a square room; it’s an indefinite shape, but it’s closer to an octagon than anything else -- is an actual bar, the glass or crystal decanters on the wall behind it coming in all shapes and sizes. Steve ponders a drink, decides he’d rather have tea -- which will give him the advantage of having something to do with his hands while he waits -- and asks JARVIS, “Is the kitchen out of bounds for me?”

“No, Captain,” JARVIS says. “Mister Stark specified that you were to be allowed access to the entire penthouse, with the exception of instructions that he’d already relayed to you.”

Steve thinks about that, decides that the kitchen doesn’t count as exploring since he can see it from the door and it’s not an enclosed room itself. JARVIS directs him to the cupboard with the tea and coffee in it, and Steve fills the kettle and sets it to boil (with only minimal directions from JARVIS; it’s his first time with an electric stove, and this one doesn’t even have any markings on the top to tell Steve where to put his kettle).

A few minutes later, Steve is drinking spearmint tea and sitting in the living area, arranged so that he can see the platform that Iron Man will land on when he returns.

Which he does, and much sooner than Steve expects.

The suit is breathtaking. Steve stands and closes the distance between his seat and the window closest to the landing pad to get a good look. When his phone rings, he answers it without looking to see who’s calling. He knows who’s calling.

“This enough?” Tony says, spreading his arms and turning slowly enough that Steve gets a good look at the whole suit.

He isn’t surprised that Tony remembers it being on the list.

“Could you, uh,” Steve says. “Can I come out and see you in the air?”

There’s a click a few feet away, and Steve sees that one of the windows has swung inward. Steve puts his tea down on the first available flat surface and slips outside. The wind is forceful and a little on the brisk side this high up, but Steve barely notices.

Tony waits until Steve is almost on the platform before he takes off, thrusters orange, repulsors glowing white, the arc reactor a blue glow from the chest. He hovers in the air for four or five seconds, and then gracefully arcs into a spiral that Steve follows with his eyes, enchanted. Tony dips and glides for a minute and then two, and Steve finally says, “It’s gorgeous. I could tell from the pictures, but seeing it like this....” He can’t find a way to describe it that doesn’t sound silly in his own head, and his erection seems both ridiculous and totally proportionate to the experience at the same time. “I wish you could....” he says, and stops before the rest of that sentence can escape, hoping the cool wind will conceal his heated cheeks. Yes, he wishes Tony could fuck him in the suit, but it seems wrong to slot such an amazing feat of skill and perseverance into something frivolous in his mind.

“You do, huh?” Tony’s voice murmurs in his ear, and he swoops his way back to the platform, landing lightly on it. The blue glow of the face plates eyes are firmly pointed in Steve’s direction. “Raincheck?” Tony asks. “I can make that happen, but it’ll take me a couple of days.”

Steve’s face blazes with heat; he stammers something out that probably doesn’t make much sense.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Tony says. “What’s the point of being a genius if I can’t use my creations to make you look like that.”

Steve doesn’t know what he looks like, but he can’t help but shiver at the idea. “Really?” he says plaintively, and is faintly humiliated at how hopeful it sounds.

“I never joke about the suit,” Tony says a little flatly.

“No, I,” Steve says. “You don’t, it’s just that....”

“It’s just that it’s gorgeous, and you have excellent taste,” Tony says, sounding amused now. “Give me two days and I’ll blow your mind, Captain.”

“Yeah,” Steve breathes. “If you. Okay, Tony.”

“Go on inside,” Tony says. “You’re standing where I need to be to get out of the suit.”

Steve’s phone beeps at the disconnected call, and Steve backs away as Tony steps forward, and keeps backing away so that he can watch as Tony walks, each step accompanied by the flurry of metallic arms removing the armor piece by piece.

Tony walks through the open glass pane and it clicks closed behind him. He’s wearing black jeans and a worn dark gray t-shirt, and he looks amazing, his hair a little mussed from the helmet in a way that makes Steve’s hands twitch to smooth it back.

“I should have asked to touch it,” Steve says without intent, the idea crossing his mind and falling out his mouth between one breath and the next.

Tony cocks his head a little, his eyes roving across Steve’s chest and down to his groin. “When you put it on the list, did you know it was a sex thing?” he asks curiously.

Steve shakes his head.

“You know the whole list is about sex, don’t you?” Tony asks, crossing the distance between them and raising one hand to press it against Steve’s chest.

Steve starts to protest, pauses while he mentally reviews the list, and then shrugs. “I didn’t. But I don’t think you’re wrong,” he says finally. Tony is close enough that for the first time, Steve really notices how much bigger he is. He’s at least five or six inches taller, and so much wider in the shoulder that Tony could probably spend a New York summer day comfortably sheltered against the sun by standing in Steve’s shadow.

He doesn’t know why that makes his cock throb in his jeans.

And even though he’s looking up at Steve intently, Steve wonders if Tony really feels how much bigger Steve is. Tony acts like he’s seven feet tall and has so much life and energy that it’s never occurred to Steve to think otherwise.

Tony flips his hand over on Steve’s chest and smacks him gently. “Come on,” he says. “I can’t do anything about your suit-fucking fetish, but the touching I can manage.”

“Wait,” Steve says, though he’s already following Tony when he says it, because following Tony seems automatic.

Tony pauses and turns.

“I’ll wait, I mean,” Steve mumbles. “Until you can....”

Tony arches both brows, but he’s smirking just a little. “Going to let it be a tease?” he asks, but kind of fondly, and his smile widens when Steve just nods and blushes. “Fair enough,” Tony says.

Steve digs in his pocket for the flash drive.

Tony takes it, sighs a little, and shoves it in his pocket. “I meant for them to send them electronically, so you wouldn’t have to ferry them back and forth,” he says.

“I think,” Steve says slowly, taking a deep breath, “that Director Fury is deliberately giving me something to ferry back and forth. Something that I can use to explain my presence.”

Tony frowns. “And why would he do that?”

“Because he knows I’m sleeping with you,” Steve admits. “He called me in to talk about your apparently shocking and abrupt cooperation.”

“And you thought it would be a good idea to tell him?” Tony asks, though he sounds more interested than angry.

“Off the record,” Steve says. “And yes, he actually did turn off his office surveillance while we talked about it. But, yes. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have given him another excuse that would have made sense to him, so I told him the truth.”

“All of the truth?” Tony asks, smirking.

“No,” Steve blushes. “But enough to explain things.”

“And enough to make sure he won’t even consider replacing you,” Tony says. “That’s actually probably the best thing you could have done, honestly. I wouldn’t have worked with anyone else, anyway.”

“I should have had permission from you to disclose it,” Steve says. “I’m sorry about that.”

Tony snorts. “If it had been anyone other than you, Fury probably would have already deduced the situation himself. It’s not like he doesn’t know my reputation.” He shrugs easily. “Besides, I’m not ashamed of you. You’re a catch.”

Steve chuckles. “Likewise,” he says honestly. “But I think Fury would rather have it kept under wraps.”

“Of course he would,” Tony says carelessly. “He’s a spy. He wants to keep everything under wraps, almost certainly including anything that might damage your career or reputation.” He throws a smirk in Steve’s direction. “Seriously, don’t worry about it. I can’t tell you how much I don’t care what Fury knows about my sex life.”

“Okay,” Steve agrees, because he’s as close to certain as he can be that Tony really doesn’t care.

“So, the new friend I made you,” Tony says, his smile going a little sharp. “You felt violated?”

Steve shivers a little, but just says, “Yes. If you hadn’t called....”

“Much worse?” Tony asks.

“Yeah,” Steve says a little hoarsely.

“Will you use it again?”

“Yes,” Steve admits.

Tony’s smile is like a shark’s. “Good,” he says, sounding both wicked and satisfied. “Come this way.”

Tony turns slightly and leads Steve down a short corridor. Lights flicker on as they advance, dim, but enough to see by. There are only three doors, one on either side of the hall, not directly facing each other, and one at the end of the hall. The doors on the sides are made of what looks like oak to Steve. The one at the end of the hall looks like steel, and has a glowing blue keypad inset into the wall next to it. Tony stops in front of the door to the right.

“What’s that one?” Steve asks, pointing.

“My workshop,” Tony says. “It’s actually down a floor. Well, it’s actually its own floor. But you can’t get to it from anywhere but here or my private elevator.” He opens the door he’s standing in front of. “I’ll take you down and give you the tour later.” He jerks his chin in the direction of the room he’s standing in front of. “Trust me, Captain, this is what you’re here to see.”

The lights come up as Tony steps inside, still relatively dimly, but Steve’s vision is very good. It’s a large bedroom with an equally large bed. There are several doors inside, all of them closed, and there isn’t a single stick of furniture in the room except for the bed itself, which is a four poster wrought iron monstrosity, complete with antiquated curtains. Steve is curious about it, but he also has suspicions about it.

“You don’t sleep here,” he says.

Tony looks over his shoulder at Steve and grins. “I don’t,” he agrees easily. “How did you know?”

“That bed is a... prop. A showpiece. You sleep in something more modern, and something that definitely doesn’t have curtains. And there’s nothing in this room. Not that you couldn’t have a whole host of furniture behind any of these doors, but I don’t think you do.”

“I sleep across the hall,” Tony says, giving Steve a speculative look. “All my clothes live here, but I don’t sleep here. I like my bed a little softer.”

“Why have this room at all?” Steve asks.

“This bed is ideal for sex. Firmer is better.”

“You don’t sleep with people in your real bed,” Steve says, some kind of slow understanding dragging upward from the back of his mind. “You don’t sleep with people.”

Tony’s eyes are a little narrow, but he doesn’t actually sound upset or angry when he says, “No. I don’t.”

“Why?” Steve asks, even though he suspects he already knows why, and doesn’t really like it.

Tony shakes his head. “Security, at least partly. That and the way that people go to bed knowing I’m Tony Stark, wake up next to me, and expect me to be somehow different.”

“Huh,” Steve says, because that is kind of what he thought, but not exactly. It hadn’t occurred to him that Tony might feel... pressured by waking up next to someone. He’d expected it to be more about drawing firm boundaries.

Tony shrugs, looking a little self-conscious. “Yeah,” he says and walks across the room. “We might end up here, but this isn’t actually what I wanted to show you.”

Steve follows, his eyes still on the really ridiculously enormous bed. “What in the world do you need with a bed this big?” he asks.

Tony stops next to one of the doors in the bedroom and smirks. “Orgies,” he says succinctly.

“Huh,” Steve says again, unsure what he thinks of that. “You’ve actually done that?”

“Many, many times,” Tony says. “Why, do you want to?”

Heat blooms in Steve’s face. “No. I mean. It’s just not for me.”

“How would you know?” Tony points out, but his grin is friendly. “You might find out orgies are what have been missing from your life. It wouldn’t be the first time something took you by surprise.”

“Stage fright,” Steve says, knowing it sounds ridiculous. “The idea of an orgy gives me stage fright. Pretty sure that’s not what I’m after.”

“The idea of anyone as gorgeous as you having stage fright is frankly ridiculous,” Tony says, but he presses a hand along Steve’s lower back, fingertips dipping slightly beneath the waist of his jeans. “Come on. This is either going to scare you to death or fascinate you deeply.”

“You’re not sure which?” Steve asks.

“Nope,” Tony says. “Not a mind reader. I only know as much about your kinky desires as you do at this point.” Steve blushes and Tony laughs. “Don’t worry. If you don’t want anything to do with it, there are a lot of other options.” His thumb sweeps a warm fan across Steve’s spine.

He opens the door into a much brighter room, this one twice as big as the bedroom, and filled with such a discordant panorama of objects that Steve’s gaze can’t seem to light on any one thing. Nothing seems to make sense in any of the things he’s seeing, nothing leaps out as familiar. He sees something that would look like a pommel horse, except it’s canted at an angle and has leather straps dangling from each end. He sees something that might look like weight bench, except it has two horizontal surfaces, not level, and what looks a lot like metal manacles attached to the uprights. He sees something that looks like it might belong in a dentist’s office, except that the places on the chair where arms and legs would go are articulated; it also has some kind of restraints attached to the wrists and ankles. He sees an enormous metal ‘X’ canted slightly forward against one wall, actual chains dangling from the top posts. He sees a small padded bench that only sits two or three inches off the floor, making it unlikely to be a footstool. He sees a corner area cleared of everything but a gym-style mat and a silver pole, but that also has a toilet and a shower head, beneath which is a six inch drain. He sees a metal bar dangling from the ceiling by shiny silver chains, the area beneath and around it conspicuously empty. Most of an entire wall is made up of dangling things which look, to Steve, like someone’s laundry hung out to dry, until he stares at it long enough that the dangling things resolve into pieces of leather, something like a razor strop, several widths of things that could be belts, something that certainly looks like a pony whip, several other things that might be other kinds of whips.

There is one lone cabinet in the room, enormous enough to house Steve’s entire wardrobe. It’s the only thing that he can actually identify, and even then, in context with the rest of the room, he can’t begin to guess what its purpose is.

He turns, unsurprised to find Tony watching him intently. “I don’t know what any of this is for,” he says, meaning for it to be calm, hearing it come out unsteady.

“I know,” Tony says, his hand still resting warmly along Steve’s lower back. “I didn’t expect you to recognize anything. Never mind that. How do you feel about the room.”

Steve feels baffled, but Tony seems serious, so Steve turns away and scans the room again, trying to decide how he feels about it. His gaze hangs up on the restraints. They’re everywhere, almost every piece of... equipment has them. He lets his gaze wander over everything again. Some things, he finds, he can sort of picture the use for. The not-dentists chair. Someone tied to it could be positioned for almost anything. The giant ‘X’ -- it almost looks like it could be made out of steel girders, it’s so solid and enormous -- is almost certainly something someone would be chained to. He glances at the wall of belts and whips and, yes. That would be something to do to someone chained to a giant ‘X.’

“Terrified,” Steve says, and looks at Tony, who has one brow arched thoughtfully. “But curious,” he admits.

“Is that curious as in ‘I wonder if Tony will tell me what these things are,’ or is it more like intrigued? Like ‘I wonder if Tony is going to hook me up to some of that and teach me what I like?’” Tony asks intently.

Steve swallows against the pressure in his chest, hesitating, but. For someone that doesn’t really know Steve that well, he always seems to know just how to say things. He glances back at the giant ‘X.’ He wonders what it would feel like to be stretched out against it. He wonders if he’ll ever stop wondering now that he’s considered the possibility.

“What is that thing?” he asks, pointing.

Tony follows his pointing finger and then looks back at Steve, actually looking a little taken aback. “That’s what you’re thinking about?” he asks quietly, tone serious. “Out of everything in this room, that’s the thing you hang up on?”

Steve’s face heats. “I can’t just go on calling it the giant ‘X’ in my head,” he says. “It will drive me crazy.”

A ghost of a smile touches Tony’s lips. “That, Captain, is a St. Andrew’s cross. I’m assuming you’ve deduced its purpose.” Tony’s voice is low and warm and tugs at the pit of Steve’s belly.

He realizes with real surprise that his cock is still fully erect. It hadn’t wilted at all, in spite of Steve’s confusion. Because of Tony, he suspects. Because his body just reacts like that to Tony’s proximity. “It’s for whipping,” Steve says, his voice a little rough.

“It is,” Tony agrees. “And for fucking, though probably not for you.”

Steve frowns. “Why not for me?”

“You’re too tall,” Tony says, still low, but amused now, too. “We’d have run into this problem before if our encounters hadn’t all been on surfaces designed for my particular build.”

Steve looks at him, both amused and incredulous. “Your desk is designed to be the right height for you to fuck someone on it?”

Tony smirks. “Some would call it vanity, I call it planning ahead.” He shifts the hand at the small of Steve’s back so that it slips under his t-shirt. “I’d like to take you inside and see if I can show you a good time, Steve,” he says, eyes familiarly dark. “But this room isn’t going anyplace if you need some time to think about it.” Steve looks back at the St. Andrew’s cross. “I won’t put you on the cross tonight. If I’m going to be hitting you with anything, I’ll want you freestanding so there isn’t any confusion about whether you like the bondage or whether you like the hitting.”

“What if I don’t like the hitting?” Steve asks. It’s a genuine concern. He’s had pain of all shapes and sizes inflicted on him, and it’s never been a good thing.

“Then I won’t hit you,” Tony says. “There are still dozens of things to do in this room if marking up your lovely skin isn’t an option.”

Steve shivers a little, and Tony’s hand slides up his back, palm pressing between Steve’s shoulder blades. “The idea...” he tries, and then sighs. He doesn’t know how to explain how the idea makes him feel.

“The idea takes you halfway there,” Tony says, soothing now. “It’s as much about what’s in your head as it is about your actual body.”

“But right now I’m...” Steve says.

“Overwhelmed, I know,” Tony says. “Come inside. I’ll settle you down, and then we’ll see how you feel.”

“Settle me down,” Steve repeats uncertainly.

Tony’s hand presses between his shoulder blades. “Believe it,” he says, and Steve is already nodding, because he does. He doesn’t know exactly how it will work, but he doesn’t doubt Tony.

Tony’s hand on his back urges him gently forward, and Steve steps into the room. He throws a glance back over his shoulder, catching sight of the foot of the bed, and wonders if he should ask for Tony to ‘settle him down’ in that room instead.

“Don’t second guess me, Captain,” Tony says, pressing Steve onward. “It will be better in here.”

Steve thinks that it would be easier in the room with the bed, but he also guesses that easier might not be the same as better. He’s overwhelmed at the sight of this room; it makes him feel like he’s going to jump out of his skin, but a little time and familiarity will probably cure that. And Steve isn’t a stranger to jumping in at the deep end.

Tony leads him around the not-a-pommel-horse and into a small open area with the two-inch padded stool centered in it. “Kneel down,” Tony says, one hand gesturing toward the stool.

Oh, Steve thinks, and turns and sinks down to his knees on the stool, which is thickly enough padded to be fairly comfortable.

“You turned to face the cross,” Tony says thoughtfully.

Steve looks at the St. Andrew’s cross, but isn’t sure what to say about it, so doesn’t say anything.

“I’ve got something in my pocket for you,” Tony says, circling around so that he’s standing in front of Steve. “Your left. Get them out.”

Steve slips his fingers into the pocket of Tony’s jeans and fishes out two oblong pieces of metal attached together by a length of chain. He would have taken a better look, but Tony says, “Just hold onto them for right now. Put your hands behind your back.”

Steve does, the metal clasped in his right hand, already warm from the heat of Tony’s body.

Tony takes a couple of steps back and then begins to methodically strip, leaving his clothes and shoes in a pile. Steve watches, jumpiness nearly forgotten, as Tony walks back to him, his cock mostly hard, swaying thickly from the neat, dark thatch of his pubic hair. Steve is barely surprised when his mouth starts to water. Tony closes to within an inch of Steve, angling his pelvis so that his cock brushes along the edge of Steve’s jaw. He fists a hand in Steve’s hair and tugs so that Steve leans into his hip. Tony smells of sweaty skin, spice, and machine oil. The combination twists at the base of Steve’s spine, and he can’t stop himself from pressing an open-mouthed kiss against the thin skin above Tony’s hip bone.

Tony hums softly, holding Steve in place without speaking for a minute or more, until even Steve can feel his shoulders relaxing, so easy to do with his face pressed against Tony’s naked skin. He thinks that will be enough, that Tony will let go, that there is some kind of recreational pain in his very immediate future, but instead Tony pulls slightly away and angles back in with his cock leading.

Steve opens his mouth without thought, and Tony presses right in, not hard but firmly, and Steve leans into it, taking it deeper than Tony’s thrust would have taken it. “Yes,” Tony says simply, and Steve moans a little, prickling with familiar heat. Tony’s hand in his hair stops Steve from leaning very far forward, the tug of it faintly painful but immaterial combined with the hot width of Tony’s cock in his mouth. Tony rocks forward, but not far, not anywhere near as far as Steve wants him to push in, just pulling gently back and then in again, no matter how much Steve uses his tongue or how hard he sucks, just a steady in and out, until Steve stops straining forward and just lets Tony do whatever he wants.

As soon as he does, Tony pulls all the way out, and Steve lets out a humiliating sound of disappointment. Tony pushes his fingers through Steve’s hair, and then slides down to his knees with easy agility. Steve blinks at Tony, blinks at being like this, so close and face to face. Tony is looking at him consideringly with his dark eyes. He hums again, and cups Steve’s chin in one hand. Steve moves as directed, and Tony is kissing him all of a sudden, not like either of the times before, but with his mouth hot and open, his tongue darting unchallenged into Steve’s mouth. Steve kisses back, or more truthfully, just cooperates with being kissed, with Tony’s tongue sliding against his, and Tony’s teeth dragging brightly across his lip. Steve groans and lets the force of Tony’s mouth on his push him back a little, wishes he could touch Tony, arches his back when both of Tony’s hands slide under his t-shirt and across his stomach to his chest.

He gasps brokenly when Tony pulls away, cock aching, trapped in his jeans. Tony shifts so he has Steve’s shirt in his hands and drags it up and over his head before Steve realizes he’s being stripped. His shirt bunches at his wrists, and Steve intends to shake it free, but Tony is kissing him again, so he isn’t thinking about anything else, just about the heat of Tony’s mouth and the feel of one of Tony’s hands slipping around to cup the back of his neck, and something in his belly uncoils, needy but calm, and he moans into Tony’s mouth helplessly. Tony pulls back again and Steve whispers, “Tony,” pleadingly, his face heating, but desperate anyhow.

Tony bites his bottom lip, deliberate and slow until it hurts enough to wrest a little cry from Steve. Tony licks at the bite -- Steve can taste his own blood -- kisses it, and then pulls back to regard Steve from two inches away again.

Steve’s cock is so painfully hard that he straightens a little on the bench, trying to relieve the pressure. Tony watches him do it, then reaches out and unbuttons Steve’s fly, fingers as quick and agile as the rest of him. Steve’s cock practically falls out into Tony’s waiting palm, and Steve cries out again at the feel of Tony’s fingers curling around him. Tony doesn’t do any of the ten things Steve wishes he would do to his cock; he just tugs Steve’s jeans slightly down and tugs his balls free of the denim as well; Steve had elected to go without underwear; he thinks Tony looks a little pleased.. Steve bites his lip when Tony pulls his hands back to keep from making the pleading noises he can feel tightening his throat.

“How do you feel?” Tony asks softly. He puts his hands on Steve’s shoulders and strokes firmly all the way down Steve’s arms.

“Calmer,” Steve admits, and tries to think of something better, because that’s true, but not really accurate. He’s too shiveringly aroused to truly be calm. “Not calm,” he tries to correct. “But not.” He looks at Tony helplessly.

“Less skittish?” Tony suggests. “More easy going?”

Steve latches onto that last one, nodding. “Easy going,” he agrees. “Like I can’t worry very much about--” he gestures, “--everything.”

Tony smiles. “Good. You shouldn’t be worried. I will explain exactly what I intend to do before I do it until we know what works for you. Except this one thing,” Tony says almost apologetically, and raises a hand.

The motion is widely telegraphed, and Steve recognizes it and even considers bracing himself, but in the end, his body won’t let him take a blow that he sees coming. He catches Tony’s wrist with his hand still several inches from Steve’s face and holds it there.

“I’m not sure hitting me is a good idea,” Steve says, truthfully if a little reluctantly.

Tony doesn’t look at all surprised, though he says, “That was fast.” He twists his wrist very slightly, and Steve releases it. After a moment, he puts his hand behind his back again. Tony is looking at his wrist. “That will probably bruise.”

“I’m sorry,” Steve says unhappily.

“Don’t be,” Tony says, giving him a long, steady look. “I knew the risks. And it’s one of the things I need to know. I’ve topped military subs before. Your reflexes are something I have to take into consideration if I’m going to hit you.”

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Steve says unsteadily. “I’m not sure I can just let you....” He swallows. “I could have broken your wrist.”

“But you didn’t. And trust me, I know how to find out if you’re going to be able to let me. In my experience, soldiers either love the pain and crave it, or absolutely can’t stand it.” Tony smiles faintly. “I know how to figure out which it is without scarring you for life.”

Steve can see the St. Andrew’s cross over Tony’s shoulder. He struggles to phrase what he’s thinking, and finally manages, “But, if there was bondage, I couldn’t accidentally hurt you.”

“If there’s a chance of you accidentally hurting me, then we’re doing something that’s wrong for you,” Tony says soothingly. He puts a hand on Steve’s knee. “We might find out that being hit works better for you with the bondage because of the way it feels to your body and your mind, or we might find out you like some pain as long as there’s some pleasure to balance it, but before we do that, we need to know if you like pain play at all, Steve. Some people don’t, and I’m not interested in doing anything you don’t like.”

“I don’t have any past... positive--” Steve stops talking, because he thinks he might have been about to tell Tony a lie. He doesn’t have any positive associations with pain during combat, but before that. Once, he’d weighed a hundred pounds dripping wet, and had gotten into fist fights that he had no hope of winning twice a week. He hadn’t ever, or it hadn’t been about that, but there had always been a defiant sort of satisfaction at the pain.

Tony is watching him shrewdly, but he doesn’t actually ask about it. Instead, he says, “Let me do a couple of things and see how you feel about them, Captain. You remember your safeword?”

“Yes,” Steve says slowly, his mind still ticking around the idea that he might have some kind of actual, if slightly warped, experience at this part. But it isn’t the same kind of experience. This isn’t a fight that Steve can’t win, it’s not a fight in which he doesn’t have to worry about hurting anyone because he’s too fragile to really do any damage. “Wait,” he says a little hopelessly.

“You’re rabbiting,” Tony says. There’s no disapproval in his voice, though it’s flat and neutral. The expression on his face isn’t any better. His gaze is distant.

“No!” Steve insists immediately, because Tony looking at him like that makes his stomach drop and his heart pound. “I’m not going anywhere,” he adds, and Tony relaxes enough that his expression goes from nothing at all to faintly unhappy. Steve doesn’t like it, but it’s still a little better than nothing. “I just... You said, before, when you tried to slap me. You said you knew the risks.” He looks at Tony a little pleadingly and Tony relaxes a little more. “I don’t think we can do this, because.” He swallows. “Because you don’t know the risks. You don’t know things about me.”

Tony’s face opens a little in surprise. “But you’re going to tell me?” he asks. “You’re not going to shoot me down and then fuck off into the sunset?”

“I would never do that,” Steve says carefully. “But I’m not sure how to explain.”

Tony’s shoulders have loosened again, though he’s still looking at Steve like he can’t quite believe he’s real. “You’re really going to do this,” he says, amazed.

Steve says, “I would never just... just fuck off into the sunset,” hoping that his sincerity is clear in his voice. “But I have to tell you something, and if it’s something that upsets you, I’ll understand if you don’t want to... do this. Anymore.”

“I can’t think of anything in the world that would make me not want to do this anymore,” Tony says, and his sincerity is unquestionable.

Steve is a little relieved even though he knows he can’t hold Tony to that answer. Not when Tony doesn’t really know what he’s committing to. He can feel his cock wilting, and there doesn’t seem to be a good way to even lead into the secrets he’s about to lay out. He opens his mouth, hoping that something that makes sense will come out, and Tony reaches out and grabs Steve’s cock at the same time, so Steve merely says, “Ah!”

“I still have plans for this,” Tony says, voice soft but brooking no argument as he strokes Steve fully erect again, until Steve is gasping and rocking his hips into Tony’s hand. Tony’s hand stills once Steve is again aching with need, but he doesn’t remove it from Steve’s cock. “Just say it,” Tony orders quietly, and it almost makes it easy.

“I’m Captain America,” Steve says, and shudders out a breath. “I was part of a military experiment to...”

“Create super soldiers for America during World War II. I know who Captain America is.” The words are almost clinical, but Tony’s voice is warm.

Steve can feel it settling over him like a blanket, and he still feels uncertain and shaky, but he’s also relieved. “What do you need to know so that you believe me?” he asks.

“I already believe you,” Tony says matter-of-factly. “When I decided to slap you, I really did know the risks, Captain.”

Steve considers that for a long moment, and can only think to ask, “How did you know?”

“You didn’t even change your name,” Tony says. “Even if I hadn’t ever seen your face, I wouldn’t have let the coincidence of that go without investigating it.”

“You knew the first time,” Steve says, and isn’t sure how he feels about it.

“No,” Tony says. “I thought it was coincidence and an uncanny resemblance that I couldn’t possibly resist, but I’m a clever man. That’s why I have an enormous pile of money and a supercomputer capable of hacking anything SHIELD can even imagine. I thought it was unlikely, but I checked anyway, because little details like that niggle at me.” He gives Steve a brief smirk. “If I had known, I definitely wouldn’t have propositioned you.” He cocks his head. “Well, maybe. About fifty percent chance, really. Hard to juggle between national icon and teenaged jerk-off fantasies. Plus you look spectacular in the uniform. And, speaking of uniforms, do you still have the Captain America uniform?”

Steve blinks a little. “That’s the only question?”

“I read everything there was to find about your recovery. The mission reports were pretty comprehensive. I think that long in the ice would have done a number on the uniform.” He sounds disappointed.

The urge to laugh is turning over gently in Steve’s belly. “I thought you’d be mad,” he says, and Tony arches both brows at him in mock-surprise.

“You thought I’d be mad that you didn’t reveal your super-secret-ultra-classified-back-from-the-dead superhero identity until our third date?” Tony’s voice is equal parts gentle and mocking, something Steve isn’t sure other humans are genetically capable of exhibiting. It’s incredibly reassuring.

“It sounds stupid when you say it like that,” Steve says with an uncertain chuckle.

Tony gives him eyebrows again, but kindly doesn’t expound on how stupid it sounds. “Uniform?” he asks again, instead.

Steve’s chuckle is sturdier this time. “Not the original. There’s a new one, but it’s... kind of snug.”

Tony looks pleased to hear it. “You should bring it. Peeling it off you inch by inch would be the realization of dozens of hormone fueled dreams of my youth.” He looks amused, but sounds perfectly serious.

“SHIELD has it,” Steve says. At Tony’s very slight expression of disappointment, Steve immediately hears himself saying, “I’ll get it. It should be with the shield anyway. It’s stupid to have them in separate places.”

“Completely stupid,” Tony agrees, looking extremely satisfied with himself. “I’ll look forward to seeing them both. In the meantime.” He tugs gently on Steve’s cock. “I knew the risks when I tried to hit you, and they are almost nonexistent. You are never going to hurt me unless I specifically ask to be hurt.”

“Never on purpose,” Steve says, and then pauses. “What do you mean, ask to be hurt?”

“I mean people are rarely unidirectional,” Tony says seriously. “For example, does the fact that I put my cock in your ass and you love it mean that you wouldn’t like to put your cock in mine?”

Steve’s brain stutters a little at the idea and he shakes his head, mouth dry.

“Ergo, I enjoy hitting other people if they enjoy it as well, and occasionally I like to be hit.”

Steve isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to respond to that in any way that makes sense. It makes his palms sweat and his cock jump at the same time.

“People are rarely exclusively one thing or the other,” Tony continues. “There’s usually some bleed. I think you’re going to find out you have a pretty extraordinary pain kink, if you ever let me continue demonstrating.”

“Why do you think that?” Steve asks; he genuinely feels like he needs to know. Otherwise it all seems too overwhelming.

Tony gives him a faintly impatient look, but answers willingly enough. “Because I have experience with people with pain kinks, myself included, and I know what kind of behaviors generally go along with that. Because you’re a beautifully responsive submissive, and some submissives take pleasure in the pleasure that their dominants take in inflicting pain. Because I know your responses to pleasure, and they’re pretty extraordinary, and the two things sometimes conflate into something called sensation play, which means most or all stimuli is physically and mentally satisfying. Because of your knee jerk reaction to the St. Andrew’s cross. And just because I think so, because I get a vibe from you, a hunch, and statistically, my hunches regarding you have been fairly accurate.”

“I’m still afraid I might hurt you by accident,” Steve admits.

“Go with me on this one tiny little test run, and if it’s successful, I’ll put you on the cross,” Tony says.

“I can probably lift the cross,” Steve says, but his cock is jerking in Tony’s fist.

“But not accidentally,” Tony says. “Even you would have to put some effort into it. Which means the possibility of you reflexively hurting me is vanishingly small.”

“You really want to hurt me a lot,” Steve says, his voice unsteady.

Tony leans into him so far that the head of Steve’s cock brushes his thigh and Tony’s breath is warm against his jaw. “Steve,” he murmurs, low and hot. “I want to hurt you so much that you’re killing me right now. If you never want to do it again, there are hundreds of other things I will still want to do to you and with you. You liking pain is not necessary for me liking you. But I have literally spent my entire adult life wanting to lay down intricate patterns of welts across your stunningly perfect back and your unbelievably gorgeous ass. All I want is for you to let me experiment with you just enough so that we know whether or not to try.”

Steve tips his head forward to rest it against Tony’s shoulder. Tony cups the back of his neck when he does, and Steve’s whole body feels like it loosens. “I’m afraid I’ll like it,” he confesses.

“What makes that something to be afraid of?” Tony asks.

Steve pauses, working at the idea like a knot, trying to see the shape in it. “That I won’t be able to tell the difference,” he says finally. “That it’ll make me careless.”

“There is a distinct difference in opening yourself up to pain in a controlled environment and having it inflicted on you against your will. If you like it, you’ll know the difference immediately. Believe me, I’m Iron Man. I have experience with both kinds of pain. They aren’t the same thing at all.” Tony presses a kiss to Steve’s jaw, and Steve shivers into it.

Steve thinks of all the fights. He thinks of the way that the St. Andrew’s cross gleams and fascinates him. He thinks about Tony’s face when he gets what he wants, and how making that happen feels like dying happy to Steve.

“Okay,” Steve murmurs. “Tell me what to do.”

Tony shudders a little against Steve, and then leans away, releasing his cock. “Give me what you’re holding,” he says, holding out a hand, palm up. Steve drops the chain and metal oblongs into Tony’s hand. Tony pulls them apart, stretching the chain, and then holds them up and turns them a little. He presses at one end, and the other end opens like tiny square jaws. “They’re nipple clamps,” Tony tells Steve. “Normally I’d warm you up for them. Bite and pinch your nipples until they’re sensitive. But we’re going to do this in baby steps until we have more information. Are your nipples usually sensitive?”

Steve, who has never paid much attention to his nipples aside from noting that he has them, shakes his head. “I have no idea.”

Tony tumbles the nipple clamps into one hand and sweeps the thumb of his other hand across one of Steve’s nipples.

Steve’s breath hitches slightly at the soft buzz of sensation, and Tony does the same to the other. His touch leaves his nipples feeling slightly cool, and Steve feels them tightening and looks down at his chest to watch. Tony pinches one lightly and gives it a tiny twist -- nothing that hurts at all -- but Steve definitely feels it. Tony repeats the motion with the other. Steve’s balls tighten a little and he breathes out a long breath.

“I’m going to go with sensitive,” Tony murmurs, and Steve is faintly disappointed when he pulls his hand away. Steve watches Tony pull the chain apart again, and this time the sight of the clamps causes a little tug in the pit of Steve’s belly. He can imagine what they’ll look like on him, as well, which deepens the tug into a gentle throb. He watches Tony’s hand, mesmerized, as Tony pinches them open and settles them against Steve’s chest, each of Steve’s nipples framed by tiny metal and rubber jaws.

When Tony lets go, there is a sharp twist of pain that makes Steve arch in surprise, but then it passes and his nipples just feel warm and a little strange, just pressure and the awareness of sensation. Steve stares at them and at the chain strung between them, and his face flames unexpectedly. He had thought maybe he was getting over that, but apparently not. They look... decorative, or something, something that makes him want a shirt so that no one can see.

He looks at Tony, at Tony looking with dark-eyed pleasure, and he shudders a little, his shoulders hunching. Tony presses one of them back almost absently, and Steve straightens obediently before he even notices he’s doing it. Then his hot face gets hotter, and he has to fight not to turn his face away. Tony looks up from the clamps, his expression tight with satisfaction.

“Hurt?” he asks, but casually, like he already knows Steve’s answer.

“Not quite. Warm,” Steve admits. Tony reaches out a hand and twists Steve’s left nipple, clamp and all, and Steve bites out a surprised sound of pain, though it doesn’t actually hurt. Not quite. He’s not sure how it feels. He’s prepared when Tony does the same to his right nipple, and doesn’t make a sound, but the zing of pain-pressure-almost-pleasure is enough to make him shake a little.

“Good?” Tony asks, and smiles when Steve nods cautiously. He picks the chain off of Steve’s chest and pulls it upward. “Open,” he says, and Steve opens his mouth, puzzled. Tony tugs the chain up -- Steve is jolted again by that indefinable sensation -- and slips it into his open mouth. “Hold it,” Tony says, and Steve closes his mouth, teeth biting down on the chain to keep it secure. The tug against his nipples is continuous now, something that is prickling and unfamiliar, but feels good in what seems to be exactly equal measure. Tony tugs lightly at each clamp, as though to check that they’re secure, and then slips backward and gets to his feet.

Steve watches -- tipping his head back a little pulls at his nipples, but it still doesn’t precisely hurt, so he ignores it as well as he can -- as Tony crosses the room to the wall of belts and whips. Steve is so thoroughly distracted by Tony’s ass (and the idea that Tony is probably going to let him press his cock into that ass at some point) that he doesn’t actually see what Tony gets until he turns around again and walks back to Steve. It looks like a riding crop.

Steve blinks, and then Tony is close enough for Steve to be sure it is, in fact, a riding crop. He tenses helplessly, but Tony doesn’t make any move to hit him with it. In fact, once Tony seems sure that Steve has gotten a good look, Tony slides back onto his knees and holds the crop out to Steve, broadside.

“Both hands,” Tony says, when Steve reaches for it. Steve brings his other hand forward as well, and takes the crop. He just holds it for a few seconds, and then Tony tugs the crop down to rest across Steve’s knees. “Keep your hands on it. Don’t let go for any reason.” Tony gives him a piercing look, and Steve nods his understanding. The crop is taut and rough in his hands, thicker than Steve would have pictured it. He’s wondering what it would feel like to be hit with in when Tony bends forward and mouths Steve’s right nipple, unexpectedly hot and wet, and Steve jerks a little in surprise, and then the sensation hits him, the way Tony’s tongue flicks at the clamp and then laps at the exposed tip of his nipple. Steve groans through his teeth, his cock throbbing dully. Tony turns his attention to Steve’s other nipple, and this time Steve jerks hard enough that it pulls the chain in his mouth, and both nipples flare with brief, bright pain even as Tony’s hot tongue drags against Steve’s skin. He exhales roughly, feeling a little unsteady on the low bench. He can’t shift his stance any wider -- his jeans are holding him in place -- and Tony distracts him by dipping down to tongue the head of his cock.

Steve carefully holds himself still, but it doesn’t seem to matter. His nipples are prickling and his cock is so ready that he thinks for a few seconds that he’s going to go off. Tony sits up before that can happen and Steve relaxes slightly. “Close your eyes,” Tony murmurs. “You’ve already made a puddle on the floor, and this is probably going to be over quickly. Close your eyes and trust me, Captain.”

Steve looks at Tony for a long moment, nerves tight in his belly, and then tips his head a little to drag at the nipple clamps, just letting himself feel how they feel on him. He still can’t decide whether it’s pleasure or pain, but it’s bright and wide and good, and he’s already been trusting Tony all this time.

He closes his eyes and barely an instant later then there is an enormous crack of pain against his defenseless cock, and Steve shouts and hunches over in shock, the little chain falling out of his mouth. His hands clench around the crop and he blinks rapidly to clear his head, but his cock is on fire with need, and he is distantly aware that Tony had just slapped his cock, but it seems unimportant. The grinding edge of desire in his groin is unbearable, and he opens his mouth to tell Tony -- something, he doesn’t know what, can’t think at all -- and feels the chain tugged up into his mouth before he can, his mouth closing automatically, teeth clenching as it drags at his nipples.

Sweat trickles down his temple and he looks at Tony, waiting and uncomprehending.

“That is deeply lovely,” Tony says a little breathlessly. “God, you look like you’re about to come on the spot. It was good, wasn’t it, Captain? Tell me.” He curls a hand around Steve’s cock and strokes it once; Steve’s whole body seizes up with need, the chain in his mouth drags at the clamps, and his cock is a little sore from being slapped. He hears himself moan pleadingly with real surprise. “Tell me,” Tony repeats and tugs the chain out of Steve’s mouth. Before Steve can think of what to say, Tony is rolling the chain between his fingers and Steve’s nipples are two hot sparks of pain that connect somewhere just behind his balls. He makes a desperate, wretched sound and Tony whispers out a low groan, as though Tony can’t contain it, as though Steve’s reaction is so good for Tony that it forces the sound out of his chest. Steve’s whole body responds to the sound, like every inch of his skin has been covered in fingertip caresses, and Tony murmurs, “Shh, just take it. I know you want to take it,” and Steve closes his eyes again, unable to think of what else to do to convey his willingness.

There is nothing for several seconds, just the sound of Tony breathing quick, and Steve can feel himself shivering with fear and anticipation. He thinks of that immense wash of pain, and his cock jerks and sways heavily. He is too stunned to even want to object. He’s so stunned that he can only think of Tony and the sound that he had made, and that Steve wants to hear it again.“ Tony,” Steve begs helplessly, and Tony jerks the chain and pulls the clamps off both of Steve’s nipples. They blaze into pain and Steve whines out a sound and feels the riding crop bowing under the pressure of his hands.

Tony’s mouth closes around a nipple, unimaginable, impossible heat, Tony’s teeth grazing and lighting up Steve’s skin. He feels hot and somehow brittle, and Steve whimpers until Tony pulls away and Steve isn’t even surprised by the slap of Tony’s hand or the vast arc of pain along his cock, it feels inevitable, unstoppable. He trembles, so close, and Tony slides two fingers across the head of Steve’s cock, smearing precome down his length, and Steve is coming so hard that he pitches forward off the stool into Tony, who merely guides him gently to the floor while Steve writhes and barks out hoarse sounds of relief.

He is aware of Tony’s hands on him, warm and stroking, tugging gently at his hair before sweeping it away from his sweaty face. It helps, just knowing Tony is there, smelling him is maddening and reassuring at once, his hands work-roughened and catching against Steve’s skin. He isn’t sure how long -- it feels like it’s only a moment, but that can’t be true because Tony touches him everywhere and a moment wouldn’t have given him enough time -- but eventually he pries open his eyes and looks up at Tony, blinking against the brightness of the room.

“Welcome back,” Tony says, smiling widely, the corners of his eyes crinkled. Steve lifts a hand and touches the crinkles, something he’s been wanting maybe since the first time he’d seen them. They’re warm and soft, just like the rest of Tony’s skin. Tony turns his face and presses a kiss into the center of Steve’s palm. Steve’s hand curls into a fist and he draws it back, feeling something confusing -- he knows he’s not thinking clearly -- about keeping the kiss. Tony brushes Steve’s hair away from his face. “Tell me,” he orders gently.

“I don’t know how,” Steve rasps out truthfully.

“Think about it for a minute,” Tony says, and gets up and walks away. Steve follows Tony with his eyes, unable to look away. Tony goes to the enormous cabinet and opens one door. He dips down, and Steve sees that there is a tiny refrigerator in the bottom of the cabinet. There are other things, too, drawers and hooks holding things Steve is too far away to identify, but Tony is getting something out of the ‘fridge. When he turns back, Steve sees it’s a bottle of water. Steve is pathetically grateful to see it. His throat and mouth are desert dry.

Tony kneels down and helps Steve back up to his knees -- somehow while he does this, Tony manages to strip Steve’s jeans the rest of the way off of him, though Steve can’t figure out how -- and Tony opens the bottle. Steve realizes for the first time that he’s still holding the riding crop in both hands. He blinks in surprise. Before he decides what to do about that, Tony is leaning and slipping the neck of the bottle up against Steve’s lips. He opens his mouth -- apparently he does that automatically now -- and Tony carefully tips the bottle.

The water is absolutely delicious and Steve tips his head back further, and Tony obliges him with a heavier stream. Steve gulps it down until he feels like his throat is more or less back to normal, and eases his chin down until Tony eventually withdraws the bottle and caps it, setting it aside.

“Now tell me,” Tony says firmly.

Steve still doesn’t know how. “It was like being turned inside out,” he says finally. “It felt like being reversed, and you were touching the inside of my skin.”

Tony’s eyes darken a little, and Steve can’t resist the warmth that courses through him at the sight. “You’re a natural,” Tony tells him.

“I don’t think I liked keeping my eyes closed,” Steve says, uncertainly. “I want to. I mean. If I could see you doing it.” He isn’t sure how to go on.

Tony nods slowly. “I had you close them so you wouldn’t see it coming and react. I don’t think it was necessary.” He puts one finger against the riding crop and presses. “You do follow orders well.” His voice is warm. “But for the first time, it seemed better to err on the side of caution.”

Steve huffs out a surprised laugh. “Slapping my cock is erring on the side of caution?”

Tony grins at him. “I know it’s a little hard to believe, but a little cock slapping -- which I didn’t do very hard at all by the way -- is actually less painful than almost anything I could hit you with. That, combined with the fact that you’d been hard for ages, and that you’re Captain America, so anything that wasn’t good about it would fade almost immediately, made slapping your cock the most logical progression.”

“Plus the idea,” Steve says. “That. You’re right. It’s as much about what’s in my head as it is what it feels like. But I would have liked to have seen it.”

“Next time,” Tony agrees easily. “Let’s talk about options for right now.” He catches Steve’s cock in a gentle grip. “You never went soft at all.” He sounds fascinated, which makes Steve shiver a little at the idea of what a fascinated Tony might come up with.

“You said,” Steve says nervously.

“I know what I said,” Tony says, eyes glittering. “I’m just making sure we’re on the same page. If you need some time to process, I can take you back to the bedroom and fuck you until you beg. Or I can tie you to almost any of the equipment in this room and do the same. You don’t have to do everything tonight.”

Steve glances at the St. Andrew’s cross. “If you did. I mean.” He glances at the wall of hanging things. “How do you know what to use?”

“Equal parts experience, guesswork, and experimentation,” Tony says, smiling a little sharply. “I’ll pick something I think you’d like, hit you with it until you tell me it’s good or it’s not good, and that will give me a guideline as to what other things you will or won’t like.”

“You don’t think I’ll like, um, everything?” Steve asks, ignoring the heat in his belly.

“It’s unlikely. For most people, there is a certain kind of pain that works for them. Sharp pain. Stinging pain. Thudding pain. Some people like more than one kind, but it’s unusual for someone to like everything.” Then he cocks his head. “Unusual, but not unheard of.” He glances down at the riding crop Steve is still holding. “I’ll start with that. You are really desperate to get on that cross, aren’t you?” he asks thoughtfully.

Steve blushes hotly, but isn’t sure what to say. He’s almost as scared of it as he is attracted to it, and something about that makes him a little crazy with the need to know.

“What’s second place?” Tony asks. “I know you probably can’t narrow down what some of this stuff is actually for, but what else has grabbed your attention?”

“The chair,” Steve admits, his blush burning steadily.

“It’s reversible,” Tony says. “I can configure it to hold you face down or face up.”

Steve’s belly rolls with heat, but he doesn’t say anything. He just looks at Tony and hopes that he doesn’t make Steve actually say it.

Tony immediately smashes Steve’s hopes into splinters. “Tell me,” he orders quietly.

“The cross,” Steve admits, barely a whisper. “It might actually hold me,” he tries to explain.

Tony hums out a short sound. “Something that you won’t have to contain yourself using. Something you can pull at and fight and struggle against if you want to.” He is watching Steve’s face closely, and Steve isn’t sure what Tony sees there, but it seems to satisfy him. “If it doesn’t, I’ll set something up that definitely will. But I think it’ll work. It’s high-density dual-phase steel, and it’s bolted to the floor and the wall, both of which are heavily reinforced. Could you rip it apart if you absolutely had to? Probably. Could you do it easily, while not actually using your strength as a weapon? I sincerely doubt it.”

Steve hunches a little, face still burning. Tony uses both hands to press his shoulders back and Steve straightens up again, leaning a little into Tony. Tony pushes both hands into Steve’s hair, pulling a little, watching Steve consideringly.

“I’m sorry,” he says finally. “I talk too much, and my need to know everything sometimes makes me forget myself. I know better than to ask you.” He leans in and brushes a feathery kiss against Steve’s lips, and then pushes up to his feet. “Get up.”

Steve does, still holding the riding crop in front of him. His cock is a heavy drag between his thighs, and throbs faintly with heat and pain. He is ultra-aware of it, of the ache that’s only partly pleasure, but it doesn’t make Steve’s erection fade at all. Instead, the movement of standing seems to pull at his skin, and sends stuttery little arcs of sensation across the length of him.

Tony is watching him again, this time a little hotly. “Go stand in front of the cross,” Tony orders, and Steve’s body seems to flush with heat all at once, both expectation and some kind of embarrassment so deep that it’s almost shame. Steve only hesitates for a moment, but it’s long enough for Tony to twist around and slap him sharply across the ass. Steve takes a half step forward in surprise. He wouldn’t have guessed Tony could hit so hard; Steve’s ass cheek stings warmly from the blow. His embarrassment tightens into something that is definitely more like shame -- his face is hot with it -- but it twists pointedly at the base of his spine, too, something like the pain of having his cock slapped, something that feels good because it hurts him somehow.

He walks around the thing that looks like a weight bench, but isn’t, and then hooks around the end of a table -- there are two, low and shallow, more like counters than tables, one on either side of the cross -- until he’s standing in front of the St. Andrew’s cross; it looks even bigger this close. He looks at the chains dangling from the upper arms, and now that he has a sense of what he’s looking at, can see that they’re of a length to handle Tony. The idea makes him feel desperate and uncertain at the same time. He turns his mind away from it; he’ll think about how he feels about hitting Tony another time.

Tony circles around him and stretches up to adjust the chain on one side of the cross where it’s running through a loop soldered to the arm. Steve watches silently as Tony shortens one and then the other; he can’t see how they’re attached at the back, but they must be somehow. He avoids thinking about that, too. He doesn’t want to know the potential weak spots. Knowing that sends fresh shame spiraling into the pit of his belly, and Steve’s cock doesn’t seem to realize he had just come fifteen minutes ago.

“Crop,” Tony says and holds out a hand. Steve passes it over, and immediately flexes his empty hands, which twitch as though missing the firm presence of the thing. Tony sets it on one of the tables, where there are several other things arranged that Steve doesn’t take a close look at just yet. “Arms up,” he directs, and Steve aligns his arms with the arms of the cross without having to be told. Tony reaches behind the cross and produces a shiny steel manacle nearly three inches wide; Steve’s heart jolts into a faster rhythm. Tony circles Steve’s wrist with one hand briefly, and then flips the manacle open and snaps it closed around the same wrist. Steve feels the click of it locking against his skin. The metal is cool, and Steve just looks at it for a moment, and then there is a faint ratcheting sound, and it becomes suddenly snug around his wrist. Tony does something Steve can’t quite see, and the manacle is firmly attached to the chain. Steve tugs at it with about half his strength -- the metal edge of the cuff bites into his forearm -- which does nothing but pull the chain taut above his head. Tony repeats everything on the other side, and Steve can’t seem to stop himself from testing that cuff as well. He resists the urge to put all his strength into it, just to see, just to know.

Tony presses a hand between his shoulder blades and pushes gently. Steve lets it tip him forward against the surface, which feels ice cold against his arms and stomach. Tony nudges his left ankle gently with one foot. “Spread,” he says.

Steve’s face burns as he spreads his legs, shifting enough so that his balance stays good; the wider stance forces his wrists upward more, leaving him feeling like he’s almost stretched to full extension without actually pulling at the manacles. Tony attaches something to his left ankle, cool metal, though it doesn’t tighten when Tony moves to the other ankle. Steve doesn’t test the ankle restraints; the way he is spread out against the solid metal makes it feel unnecessary.

“Deep breaths, Captain,” Tony says from just behind Steve’s shoulder, and Steve registers that his breathing is fast and shallow and forces a long breath out and a slow breath in. Tony strokes a hand up the back of Steve’s left thigh, over his ass, and up to the middle of his back again. “You should see how you look,” Tony says throatily, and then reaches behind the cross again and comes back with a thick length of leather with a line of metal buckles up one side. Tony tugs it around Steve’s waist and Steve can feel him pulling the leather through the buckles one at a time.

Steve’s balls clench, and his hands spasm above him until he feels the edges of the arms of the cross under his palms, and then a moment later the chains above him. He wraps his hands around the chains tightly, but still feels a little dizzy. He tries to breathe evenly and can’t quite manage it. “Captain,” Tony says, and Steve turns toward him automatically. Tony seems to be holding his phone, which Steve blinks at, and then Tony is moving toward him with the phone in one hand. Steve regards it with confusion, and Tony tips the screen up so Steve can see it.

“There, look,” he says, and Steve looks at himself leaning against the cross, bound at wrists and ankles and waist, all his muscle pulled into sharp relief by the position, his face gentle with arousal, his eyes bright and dazed. “Deep breaths,” Tony repeats. “I hope you don’t need me to tell you how gorgeous you are right now. If it wasn’t a potential national security breach, I’d make you the screensaver on my supercomputer and project you onto every flat surface.” Tony’s lips press against Steve’s back and drag across his skin; Steve’s skin prickles in response, and he feels distantly, desperately aroused at the same time that Tony’s touch is just a comfort, something familiar and real. “I have never wanted anyone so badly in my life,” Tony murmurs. He sounds faintly surprised, and for some reason it makes Steve want to believe him. “I feel like I haven’t come for ten years, I want to fuck you so much. I want to know if you’ll cry under the whip so badly that I have to keep reminding myself not to just pick something and take you apart.” Tony’s voice is a little hoarse, his breath warm against Steve’s shoulder. “I have to know that you’ll stop me if you need to, Captain. Tell me your safeword.”

“Quark,” Steve says immediately, and Tony tips his forehead against Steve’s back for a long moment, just breathing silently. Steve manages to match his breathing to Tony’s, which soothes him.

“Good,” Tony breathes finally. “I’m going to hit you with a few different things to find your range, Captain. If you especially like something, you will say ‘please.’ If you especially hate something, you will say ‘no, thank you.’ If you’re indifferent to it, say nothing. If you’re not sure and want another set to decide, you will say, ‘again, please.’ Do you understand?”

Steve shivers at Tony’s voice, hard and uncompromising, and his face is hot again, or still, he doesn’t know. He merely says, “Yes, Tony,” and Tony kisses him between the shoulder blades.

Steve feels a twist of fear and anticipation as Tony steps away from him. The chains in his hands clank a little against the metal of the cross, and he pulls at them, the way they cradle his wrists a comfort. He turns to look at Tony, who is holding the crop in his hands, but still watching Steve. “I’ll build a platform,” Tony says roughly. “So that I can fuck you, after. I can hardly look at you; it’s like being ten seconds from going glare-blind all the time.”

Heat floods Steve’s belly and roils there, and his eyes prickle. He’s going to cry on the cross for Tony, he knows it. The fact that Tony wants it is almost enough without any pain to speak of.

“You don’t have to be still,” Tony tells him. “I have excellent aim.”

And then Tony is raising the crop and Steve can only stare as Tony steps into the swing and the bite of it thuds across Steve’s shoulders leaving hot, wide pain in its wake. Steve jerks involuntarily, and bites down on his bottom lip, and the crop hits him again, just below the first, so quickly that Steve goes to his toes, so hot that Steve hears himself let out a little grunt of pain and effort. The third time lands at a diagonal, bisecting the first two, and Steve shouts at the overlay and his cock seems impossibly hard, more ready than anything he had ever expected.

There are no more blows, just a long pause, and Steve slowly blinks himself into his body enough to rasp out, “Please.”

“Good,” Tony murmurs and circles behind Steve and puts the crop on the other table. As he circles back, he runs a hand along the welts and Steve groans, his hips rocking helplessly. “God,” Tony says, and drags his thumbnail along one of them while Steve shudders. “So good for me, Captain.”

The chains clank in Steve’s hands and he loves the feel of them, cool, uncompromising steel, a force with which he need not struggle. He watches Tony pick up a thick, wide piece of leather. One end is looped, and Tony slides his fist through it. The look he turns on Steve is dark-eyed, familiar, at the same time that it’s a little glazed. It pierces Steve, hooking into his brain somewhere as well as crackling at the base of his spine. Tony in the throes of base lust. His mouth waters a little, and he feels his body pulling toward Tony, feels it stopped by the chains and the cuffs, and is awash with desire at all of it.

Tony rocks forward as he swings the leather strap, and it catches Steve in the middle of his back, less of an impact than the crop, though still a warm blaze of pain. Tony hardly pauses before he swings again, again hitting just below the first welt, and it’s good, but it’s not enough, Steve’s tolerance for pain is high. The third blow crosses over both of the other two, which is better, brighter, but doesn’t leave Steve’s head swimming like the crop had. Good, but not as good. He doesn’t know how to tell Tony that within the parameters he had stated, and opts for silence. They can go into detail later.

“Hmm,” Tony hums, as though merely interested, and he sets the strap down a little distance away from the crop. Again, he drags his hand across the new welts, and Steve bows his back to get more pressure; the feel of that is as good, if not better, than the strap itself. The heat of Tony’s palm drags along the already warm skin, and Steve lets out a harsh breath.

“Not enough,” Tony says from behind him. “Next time I’ll try something a little thicker and wider. It may just be that you need more of a punch.” He moves around to the table and picks up a short whip. He considers it for a long moment, his hands flexing around the handle and the single tail. His gaze is a little sharper when he looks at Steve this time, a little more present. Steve likes it and doesn’t like it at the same time. Finally, Tony slides his hand around the handle and lets the whip dangle. He takes a rocking step forward and Steve hears the crack of it before it touches him, and when it does, it’s a cold slice of bitter pain, nothing, nothing like either of the others, a tight slash, something that feels like it should be bleeding.

“No, thank you!” he shouts, fear and adrenaline abruptly making the world bright and unwelcoming. Steve flexes in his restraints, trying to arch away from the next blow, and he feels the whisper of air against his skin as Tony aborts his swing.

Then Tony is abruptly pressed up against his back, his arms tight around Steve’s midsection, murmuring, “You’re alright, stay down, don’t fight it,” against Steve’s neck while Tony’s hands roam across his belly and chest, pull gently at his nipples, and move downward to trail lightly down his cock and across his balls. “You don’t have to do anything, I’ll handle everything, just relax, just let me have you.”

Steve feels himself responding, abruptly lax with relief that Tony has him, and won’t hit him with the whip again, and Tony’s hands are inescapable, smoothing over skin and tracing muscle, a warm and present reassurance. Steve takes a deep breath, and Tony murmurs encouragement as Steve settles back into... into subspace, this is what it is, what it’s like to be, to be handled by Tony when Steve’s mind is easy and open. He calms even more at that, and feels it pressing in at him, a kind of gently aroused lucidity.

“Can you tell me why?” Tony asks, once Steve is loose again in his restraints.

“It sounds like ice cracking. It feels like glass cutting.” Steve struggles for a long moment, and then says, “It’s cold.”

Tony’s hands roam the expanse of Steve’s body, leaving want and reassurance in their wake. “So you feel pain as hot or cold?” Tony asks.

“And,” Steve says, searching for words. “And size,” he finally manages. “Or expanse, maybe. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, you’re perfect,” Tony tells him. “You’re doing exactly what you should be doing.” He gives Steve another backward hug, and Tony’s sweaty skin makes some of the welts on his back sting so that Steve breathes shakily.

Tony tugs away and moves back to one side of Steve. He picks the whip up off the floor, where Steve assumes he’d dropped it, and coils it carefully in one hand. Then he goes to the table where other things are laid out, and picks up another whip, coiling it, and what looks like a stick with a handle to Steve.

He takes these thing to the far end of the other table and leaves them there.

That leaves, Steve notes, a wide, thick wooden paddle -- the sight of it makes him flush -- and another whip, this one with what seems to be dozens of leather tails in several different configurations. Steve looks at it mistrustfully, but when Tony appears in front of the table again, that’s what he goes for immediately. Tony looks at him. “Trust me, Captain,” Tony say seriously. “I have a handle on what works for you. Just let me.”

Steve doesn’t nod or shake his head or do anything at all, but whatever Tony sees in his face seems to satisfy him. He steps forward and Steve turns his face away, letting his head hang forward, unable to watch.

The sound of it coming is a deeper, harder sound than before, and when it hits, the starburst of pain it sends spiraling across Steve’s back is tidal. Steve’s whole body rocks with it, his whole back covered in a hot wash of sensation, and he whines out something that sounds like, “Hngh!,” and Tony makes a throaty sound of pleasure.

“That’s it, that’s fucking glorious,” Tony says harshly, and this time the sound seems to hit Steve at the same time that the pain does, and Steve just rocks with it, a bright wash of color over his vision, the feel like a warm blanket pierced with tiny hooks dragged across his back. His mouth is open, as are his eyes, but he is voiceless, sightless, and when the next blow falls, striking lower, leather curling across his ass as well as his back, he feel tears escape his eyes at how huge it is, how resounding, and he chokes out, “Please, again please,” and doesn’t know if he’s deliberately misusing Tony’s instructions or if it had just happened, thoughtless and needy.

Tony doesn’t hesitate, though he has to be aware, Steve’s whole body must betray him, but the bulk of the blow strikes his ass, spilling a little onto the backs of his thighs, and Steve heaves out a helpless, desperate sound, his cock jerking needily. The next blow strikes Steve’s back again, layered over the welts already there from the crop and the strap, and Steve’s knees give out and he hangs from his restraints, choking out short, sobbing sounds, his skin feeling almost as needy as his cock, as though he has thousands of new nerve endings designed only for this, this one sensation, the harsh burn of it. When Tony strikes again, across his ass again, Steve can only cry out, his hips rocking uselessly, his eyes burning with tears, and he wants to ask for more, he needs more, but he can’t make himself ask again on purpose, it’s too much like lying, so he croaks, “Please, please,” and tries to blink tears out of his eyes so he can look at Tony.

Tony is so unexpectedly close that Steve draws back a little, but Tony is only pressing him upward, his hands insistent. “I need to you stand up, Captain,” he demands, but his voice is so husky that Steve hardly understands what he’s saying. Tony pushes and presses, though, and eventually Steve gets his feet under him, aware of the ache where the cuffs had bitten into his wrists and basking in it, even while he understands that he’s not supposed to do that. Tony checks his pulse with quick competence, and then gives Steve’s face his entire attention. He brushes at Steve’s cheek with one thumb, something possessive about the gesture, and Steve wants to crumble into the feel of it. “You’re amazing,” Tony says. “You’re fucking enchanting, Captain, I am fucking enchanted. If I were a better man, I’d keep flogging you until you begged me to stop.”

“Please,” Steve says, honest and yearning.

“Not at all,” Tony says, though his voice is still so husky that it doesn’t carry the same impact as it usually does. A different kind of impact, rather. One that makes Steve want to do everything Tony says without considering his own wants. “I have one more thing, and I don’t know if I can even make it through another bout of trial and error, the way you respond makes me feel crazy, and I know you’ll love it, and I want you to have it, and then I need to fuck you until neither of us can walk.”

“Please,” Steve says again, blanket agreement, he will do anything, and Tony’s hand closes on the back of Steve’s neck and squeezes lightly.

“You can’t be real,” Tony whispers, eyes closed. He tips his forehead and leans his face against Steve’s extended biceps, tracing the lines of muscle lazily with his lips. “If I were a better man, I would not be doing this to you.”

“I want you to,” Steve says, aching a little at Tony’s tone. “It has to be you.”

Tony’s breath catches for a moment, and then he says, “Strategically.” There is no bitterness in his voice, but it’s flat in a way that Steve has come to recognize.

“Not any more,” Steve says truthfully. “Maybe not ever. Maybe that was just an excuse to do what I wanted.”

“Why are you here?” Tony asks, lips brushing softly against Steve’s upper arm. Tony’s whole body is telegraphing tension, however, and Steve wishes he had his hands, wishes he could take Tony in his arms and reassure him that way, wishes he knew if Tony might want that kind of reassurance.

“Because this is where you are,” Steve says without trying to deflect anything. Tony leans a little harder against Steve’s arm.

“I am not a good influence,” Tony says a little painfully.

“I don’t need a good influence, I’m not a child,” Steve says. “I need to feel alive, you make me feel like I survived.”

Tony blows out a harsh breath. “Really, Steve,” he says quietly. “I can’t be depended on.”

“I think you can, but that doesn’t matter. I’m not here because I need someone to depend on. I’m here because I want to be here, with Tony Stark, and I think that you want to be here with me. I swear to you, Tony, I will never wake up next to you and expect you to be somehow different. I don’t want anything you don’t want to give me. But I will take everything that you are.”

“I can’t help thinking that you don’t have any idea what you’re offering,” Tony says, but his hand is roving across Steve’s back, now, fingertips brushing or prodding at welts, lighting up Steve’s back stingingly, and most of the tension has spilled out of his body and voice.

“Even if I don’t, it’s still my decision to offer it,” Steve says quietly. Tony smells amazing and it’s impossible for Steve to feel really afraid right now. He’s too far into it, his mind too occupied by everything Tony, his skin, his lips, his voice, the position he had bound Steve in, the marks he had left on Steve’s body. Another time, this conversation would be scary, but here, for now, Steve doesn’t have to do anything but tell the truth. And maybe that is why they’re having it now. So that Tony is sure that Steve will tell the truth. Distantly, he’s aware that it’s an unfair way for Tony to use his power in this situation, if that is the case. But he doesn’t care about that, either. Steve has nothing to hide. He’d told Tony his only secret.

“I’m jealous and petty,” Tony says, a low warning.

“I’m jealous and capable of breaking anyone responsible for it in half,” Steve points out wryly.

Tony snorts, and Steve feels a little wash of victory at the sound. “You have a point. Tell me you know what you’re doing.”

“I know the risks,” Steve says. “I’m willing to take them.”

“You can’t be real,” Tony sighs, but he steps back. His face is a little raw, unusually open. “I’m going to paddle your ass, Captain. Despite how that might come across, it’s going to be far more painful than you expect. Ready?”

“Please,” Steve says softly.

A smile flickers across Tony’s face, one that’s a little amusement, a little pleasure, and a lot wicked. But he just says, “I love it when you ask for it,” and it sounds warm and possessive and sincere.

“Hit me with it,” Steve says. “Hurt me.”

Tony’s eyes go glittery and sharp, and he turns and picks up the paddle. It’s at least an inch thick, maybe more, made out of some light colored wood that has been polished to a shine. It’s as long as one of Steve’s forearms, and it actually looks a little outsized for Tony’s hands. The grip Tony has on it, however, is familiar and secure, so Steve doesn’t worry about it. He just watches Tony step back a little and turn his body, the hand with the paddle in it pulling back until it leaves Steve’s range of vision.

He doesn’t tense -- his body feels almost incapable of tensing right now -- but he stops trying to strain to see Tony. He waits, and he’s impatient; Tony had said he would love it, and Steve believes him, and the flogging had been so good. He waits, and when he hears the sound of the wood cutting through the air he has a moment to be relieved and grateful, and then the paddle smacks across his ass with such a loud sound that Steve cries out in surprise at just that, and only then becomes aware of the hot, wide swath of pain it had laid down across both cheeks of his ass, the feel of it different than the flogger, not as expansive, but denser, as though Steve can feel the impact shaking every one of his bones. The second blow is faster, better, and Steve has to lock his knees, shuddering at the raw feeling, like being turned inside out, like he had told Tony, like having a different body, a body that reacts to pain like it’s pleasure, and a different mind, a mind that loves it that Tony is doing this to him, that loves this, that is open and welcoming the pain. The third blow -- all three of them layered on top of each other -- is such a crash of sensation that Steve’s body twists beneath it, and there are tears on his cheeks again already, and his ass seems to throb in time with his heartbeat, his cock to the same rhythm. “Please,” Steve says, and means to leave it like that, but instead whimpers, “Harder please.”

Tony gives a dark little chuckle and swings again. This time it catches Steve under the curve of his buttocks, lifting him to his toes, and he loses all the air in his lungs to the wide burn of it, to the way it makes every muscle in his ass flex, pulling at tender skin and muscle. The next blow is the same, heavy, the paddle is so heavy, and Steve’s body sways forward, straining a little against the frame of the cross, and the muscles in his neck go loose, his entire back feels abraded and his ass feels both abraded and bruised, and he can hardly breathe, it’s so good. The final heavy crack of the blow lands overlapping both places Tony has already hit, and hurts so much that it wrenches a cry out of Steve, and he pulls against the chains helplessly. They’re good, they don’t give at all, and the combination of that and the hot agony of his ass makes Steve shudder helplessly against the cross, and he wants to come so badly, if Tony hit him more, if he, Steve is sure he would, if only, but Steve only pants out, “Please,” as tears scald his eyes.

Tony’s hand on the back of his neck is fierce, holding him still with his head bowed. “Do you want to come?” Tony demands.

“Please,” Steve begs, feeling stripped of every other need, feeling almost blind with desire.

“Can you come while I hit you?” Tony asks, but he sounds a little urgent and hoarse, like he’s dying to know, desperate for a yes.

The sound of it twists deeply in the pit of Steve’s belly, and he babbles, “Yes, Tony, hit me, make me, I need you, you need it, to hurt me, I need it,” and Tony’s hand goes sharply tight around the back of his neck.

“The paddle or the flogger?” Tony presses, and Steve lets out a broken little sob.

“What you want, doesn’t matter, what you need,” Steve chokes out, and then Tony’s hand is gone and nothing is touching him for a few seconds, and Steve aches desperately, and he is making some kind of low and painful sound that might come from the tears and might merely come from his need not to be alone.

“Oh my God, you’re impossible,” Tony says gruffly, and then the heavy sound of the multi-tailed whip, the flogger, and then his hot back sparks back into the forefront of his consciousness, the heat, yes, but the force of it, harder and wider, and the smaller prickles of pain embedded in it. Steve shouts something incomprehensible, but Tony seems to understand it, and Tony says, “Yes, like that! Take it, Captain,” and hits him again. Steve’s body tries to recoil, can’t, reverses direction, can’t, and sags against the cross, keeping his feet only because he thinks Tony will stop if he can’t. The next blow lands across his ass and the backs of his thighs, and Steve yells and shudders helplessly, he is drowning in red, raw, pain and helpless, twisting desire, and Tony says, “You’re perfect, you’re better than perfect, you’re the most beautiful goddamned thing that I have ever seen, crying under the whip, your cock is fucking dripping, and you love it, you want it, you’ll take everything I want to give you, and when you finally fucking come, I’m going to shove you down on the floor and fuck you while you’re still helpless with the pain.”

Steve moans, wants that, and Tony strikes again in the middle of his back, right where it feels like the pain splashes everywhere, even places that haven’t been touched, and Steve’s grip tightens on the chains, his thighs shuddering, and he is so close that he isn’t breathing, he is so close that his eyes are clenched tight and his back is arched and he needs it so much, and Tony’s flogger slams into his ass, where he is sorest, and the pain is like a fast acting poison, Steve can already feel it weakening his arms and legs and hands and feet, but most of it targets his cock, and Steve can only gasp wetly, gratefully, when his balls spasm tightly and he comes and he can’t keep his feet and he’s on fire and he jerks with the pleasure and he’s held tight by Tony’s restraints and he doesn’t have to think about any of it, doesn’t have to do anything, only has to ride out the waves of it until he is limp and aching and content.

There is a stretch of fluid time in which Steve feels husked out in the best possible way, like confusion and doubt are impossible, and Tony’s hands are dragging across his back and ass, alternately gentle and fierce enough to make Steve jerk and shudder.

“Stay on your feet, Captain,” Tony murmurs close to his ear, and Steve feels his ankles being freed, and then his hands fall away from the chains above him, dangling unfamiliarly at his wrists. “Back up three steps,” Tony says, hands supportive and guiding and Steve staggers backward, feeling his body as a distant thing, unconnected. Then Tony is pushing him down onto the floor on his belly, urging one knee upward beneath him, and Steve feels the rasp of the carpet against his nipples as bright as before, and shivers against the sensation.

“Should have plugged you,” Tony rasps out. “Should have filled you up so all I had to do was pull it out and push right in.” Tony’s breathing is loud. “Next time, live and learn,” Tony mutters, and then he’s sliding slick fingers up the crack of Steve’s ass, and before Steve connects what it means, Tony is pressing one inside. It goes easy, with only the barest burn, and Steve shoves out a hoarse breath. “Look at you, God, you get looser from the pain than you do from just orgasm,” Tony says, wondering and grating with desire at once. He presses another finger into Steve and Steve arches his back, moaning an invitation. “God, that’s hot,” Tony half-whispers. “Going to stretch you the rest of the way with my cock, you can take it, want you like this, Captain,” and Steve pants hard because he wants that, too, wants to feel that, can only imagine the burn and the ache inside him and how it will complement the rest of his aches. “Hips up just a little, Captain,” Tony murmurs. “Give me an angle I can work with.”

Steve drags his elbows under him a little and arches his back, and Tony says, “Beautiful, just like that, you only have to hold it for a moment,” and then the head of Tony’s cock is pressing up against Steve’s hole, wide and hot and slick, and it feels bigger, everything feels more and when the head breaches Steve’s hole he cries out, raw pain and rawer pleasure, and Tony eases his hips forward, pressing Steve back down, as he works his cock into Steve, slower than the other times, pressing and stretching him inch by inch. Steve wants to thrash, but manages to only shudder, fists clenched, at the feeling of being stretched, the friction so much like the the friction of the paddle or the crop, except inside where Steve is tender and vulnerable. Steve whines, and Tony whispers, “Yes, just be still, you’re perfect when you take it for me, don’t move, just let me take you.”

Steve’s voice is a rough croak, but he hardly has control of it, just spilling out pleas and encouragement and, “Please, take me, make me, Tony, please,” and Tony growls faintly and jerks his hips forward, shoving a groan out of Steve’s chest as he bottoms out, his cock enormous and thick and perfect, warm skin pressed against the ache of Steve’s ass, and then Tony is shifting behind him, his hands closing on Steve’s wrists tightly, and Steve’s arousal snaps impossibly higher as Tony presses his wrists firmly to the ground and pulls out only to press back in, harder and at a different angle. “Yes, yes, yes,” Steve chants and Tony groans, and it could only be better if Steve could see his face.

“Next time,” Tony says gruffly, and Steve realizes he must’ve said that aloud. “Next time I’m going to lay you out and take you apart for at least two hours.” Tony is panting, jerking into Steve with enough force that Steve’s nipples are dragged against the carpet and his cock is scraping along it, pinned down by his belly, and both feel outrageously good. Whimpers crawl out of Steve’s throat, both from Tony’s voice and the burn of Steve’s cock and nipples. Tony murmurs something low and comforting, and then adds, “I promise you, despite all your experience to the contrary, I do have the stamina to ride you until you beg.”

Steve, who will beg anyway, all Tony has to do is ask, is still jolted by the idea, that Tony will take the time to break him down with pleasure just as willingly as he will with pain. He tries to push up into Tony’s thrust and Tony groans and shifts a little, forcing him back down with the angle of his hips and his cock. Steve moans and stills obediently, concentrating on Tony’s hands, curled tightly around his wrists.

“Make you,” Tony murmurs hotly, and Steve shudders full body, his cock fierce again, aching in so many ways. His fingertips drag across the carpet his back and ass prickling at the press of Tony’s skin against them, so that Steve wants to press back and get more. Tony pounds into him even harder, and Steve is torn between the desire to squirm just a little, to see what Tony would do, and the desire to just stay where he is, how Tony positioned him, take it like Tony wants it. In the end, he does the second, it’s the easiest and the burn of Tony inside him is deep and almost overwhelming, and he can toy with the limits another time, and instead he begs, “Yes, Tony, fuck me, make it... I need it hard, you can do... I can take it as hard as you want,” shuddered out between gasping breaths.

Tony shifts up, all his weight on Steve’s wrists, and it’s suddenly twice as hard, Tony’s cock like a bludgeon inside him, and Steve hears himself whining hoarsely at the force, and Tony’s angle is slamming him right into Steve perfectly, so that the ache of his whole body is offset by the splinters of exquisite pleasure shooting straight to Steve’s balls and cock.

“Yes,” Tony hisses. “Hard enough for you, Captain? Will you even be able to stop yourself from coming while I have you like this, with your ass in the air and your hole stretched wide around my cock?”

“If you tell me, if you tell me,” Steve all but sobs, and Tony twists his hips forcefully so that Steve cries out and clenches helplessly around the cock inside him, his cock twitching against his belly. “Please tell me,” he whispers hoarsely.

“Tell you what?” Tony growls, twisting again so that it scrapes along Steve inside and causes his eyes to slam shut in pleasure so sharp it leaves him shivering.

“Doesn’t matter,” Steve forces out, his voice a slur of sound. “Whatever you want, just tell me what to do.”

Tony sucks in a harsh breath, though his hips don’t even hesitate, and he says, “Don’t do anything,” he finally grates out. “Don’t do anything, just take my cock.”

Steve groans, his back arching, and Tony plunges into him harder, and Steve can feel Tony’s thighs clenching, so Tony is close. “Yes, please,” he hitches out. “Inside me, please,” and Tony groans, his hands spasming even more tightly around Steve’s wrists. His chest is abruptly dragging along Steve’s abraded back as Tony leans over him, and Steve’s breath catches and gasps, catches and gasps, and Tony’s brutal rhythm is breaking up, still forceful, but erratic.

“Tell me again,” Tony demands breathlessly and bites at a welt just below Steve’s shoulder, sending a flare of fresh pain sizzling through him.

“Inside, please, come inside me, make me wet and hot and slick with your cock, Tony, use me like that, a hot, tight place to shove your cock, you said, I need,” and then Tony is shouting roughly and shoving in, in, in.

“Take it, take it, take my cock, Captain, yes, fill you up, take it,” Tony is growling, body shuddering where it’s pressed along Steve’s, tension jerking at muscle, and then Steve feels the slick heat and is shuddering too, loves it, feels forced open and used, and he could come, but Tony had said, Tony said to just take it, so he shakes under the weight of Tony’s body while Tony lets out rough little groans, hips jerking still, unsteadily. He goes soft over Steve, limp like a blanket, and Steve is grateful for the serum which lets him hold Tony’s weight without strain. “God,” Tony says eventually, voice low and drugged. “I already want you again.” He sounds both amazed and resigned.

He rolls off of Steve’s back and then urges Steve over. Steve hisses as his back slides against the carpet; his cock dribbles a fresh puddle of precome onto his belly.

Tony plunges both hands into Steve’s hair, cradling his head, and bends to kiss him hotly, all tongue and teeth for a long moment, taking Steve’s mouth the same way he had taken Steve’s ass, and then more slowly and thoroughly, more curious and exploratory, and easy enough that Steve feels comfortable with kissing back, exploring Tony’s mouth eagerly, probably clumsily, but Tony doesn’t object and Steve doesn’t feel worried enough about it -- about anything -- to stop.

Tony pulls away after a while, his lips red and a little swollen. Steve reaches up to touch them, fascinated, and Tony doesn’t try to stop him. When Steve slides his thumb along the warm, soft flesh, Tony’s lips curl and he kisses Steve’s thumb softly. Steve feels himself flush, this time almost wholly from pleasure and satisfaction. Tony’s lips curl into a smirk. “Roll over a little,” he says. “Let me see.”

Steve rolls onto his side, and the fingertips of one hand play gently over Steve’s back and ass, sliding across skin that is merely warm, dragging harder against actual welts. Steve shivers under the caress, but hardly manages anything more than a low sighing moan of contentment. Tony touching him where he’s hurt feels as perfectly right as Tony hurting him had.

“I have a salve,” Tony says after a few minutes. He sounds thoughtful, and doesn’t say anything for several long seconds after that. Eventually, he continues, “It’s to protect the skin, get some moisture into it so it’ll heal quickly and smoothly. But it has a numbing agent in it.”

Steve stiffens a little; he doesn’t want his aches soothed away.

“I thought so,” Tony merely says, a smile in his voice. “I’ll make you a deal. We’ll skip it this time, and see how quickly you heal this. If it goes slowly, I’ll want to use it in the future.”

Steve is sure he’ll heal in a day, and probably significantly less. More like a few hours. Something the serum provides that is both good and bad. He won’t stay hurting for long, but that at least means they can do this almost any time. “Okay, Tony,” he says, and is unsurprised at his voice this time, slurred and drawn out.

“Are you tired? Hungry?” Tony asks, and tugs him onto his back again, with another sizzling jolt from the rough carpet.

“No.” He thinks about it. “I’ll have to eat again before I sleep,” he admits.

“But not right this minute?” Tony asks.

“No,” Steve says, smiling because he feels too good not to smile. “Right this minute I’m perfect.”

Tony slides a hand from his shoulder down to one of his nipples, plucking at it gently. Steve breathes heavily, arching a little, warm from the contact, warm from the pain.

“Do you have questions?” Tony asks, this time his voice a little more careful.

Steve has to really think about that. “Can’t talk about anything important now,” he says finally, and reaches out a hand and lets it fall against Tony’s chest. “Have... other questions, not important. just... stupid ones.”

“Okay, we’ll handle the hard stuff while you’re not quite so sweet,” Tony says and bends to brush a kiss across his mouth. “I’m curious about the stupid ones, though, so knock yourself out.”

“This room,” Steve slurs, shaking his head slowly. “Who even has this kind of room?”

Tony’s eyes crinkle with his smile. “Either people who play this way very very often, people who live this way as a kind of lifestyle, or people who are rich enough to put it together, whether they use it very often or not.”

“Do you? Often, I mean,” Steve tries to clarify.

“This particular room, I have just used for the first time.” Steve feels his eyes go a little wide, and Tony grins. “But Stark Tower is a very new building. I’ve had rooms like this in every place I’ve lived for the past couple of decades. I think I last used one of them about five years ago.”

Steve blinks up at him. “So. Not often?”

“Not anymore,” Tony tells him, his expression shifting a little into something serious, but still fairly easy. “When I first started doing this, I used it all the time. I was young and I needed something from someone, and this seemed like the best way to get it. As I got older, what I needed became a little more erratic, and sometimes I used the room and sometimes I didn’t. The past few years... I just haven’t wanted anyone in this particular fashion enough to bring them here. I keep a few things other places, and those have been enough.”

“You mean when you were young you were the opposite,” Steve says, and Tony’s eyes widen a little.

“Sort of,” he says, though. “I mean that when I was young I thought I needed an outlet that let me give up control, but I was never really any different than I am now. I just didn’t know it.”

“Do you still need that?” Steve asks, genuinely curious.

“I haven’t been in a position to trust anyone to do that for me in a long time,” Tony says. He’s watching Steve with his face clear and open, his eyes frank. “Pepper has always known, but she was never... interested. Not like this.”

“Wasn’t the question,” Steve points out and rolls a little closer to Tony; Tony merely pulls Steve up against his body, though he stays up on his elbow so that they can see each other’s faces to talk.

“No, it wasn’t,” Tony agrees. “Are you sure you want to talk about this now?” He looks genuinely concerned.

“Won’t hurt my subspace,” Steve assure him. He’s not sure a global catastrophe would hurt his subspace.

“It does seem pretty engrossing,” Tony murmurs. “You should see how you look. I’m going to install a mirror behind the cross.”

Steve smiles. “Like that. I could see you.”

“Remember what I told you about the dominant/submissive nature of the kind of sex we’re having?” Tony asks. Steve nods. “There are people that can or need to adapt themselves to either role. They’re called switches. Sometimes they need one, sometimes the other.”

“Will you need that from me?” Steve asks, more curious than worried.

“I don’t know yet, Steve,” Tony says frankly. “It depends a lot on whether or not you find yourself interested in exploring the dominant role. If you don’t, I can still get a lot of what I need just by telling you what to do to me. Topping from the bottom. It’s not the same, but it’s sometimes an acceptable substitute.” Tony pauses. “You think you could hit me?”

“My strength is a concern,” Steve says, carefully not slurring that sentence. “I’m pretty good at knowing the limits of regular human bodies, though. If we went slow, so I could learn. I’ll do anything you tell me to do.”

Tony’s breath hitches a little, his eyes darkening, but he just says, “We’ll go slow. What about what you want, though. How does the idea make you feel?”

Steve considers, remembering the chains set up for someone Tony’s size. “Nervous and kind of desperate,” he says finally. “Like I might be wanting something... in a greedy way, not a good way.”

Tony laughs a little, his eyes brightening. “It’s only a greedy way if your partner isn’t equally greedy. You don’t think the way I feel about hitting you, having you, watching you do what I say, you don’t think that’s at least partially greed?”

Steve is faintly surprised. He hadn’t thought about it. But the way he feels about having these things from Tony.... Yes. Greedy, but he hadn’t realized because Steve’s giving while he allows those things. Of course, Tony is giving too, giving something else, but still giving. Steve guesses that everyone is giving in whatever kind of relationship they’re in, because if you’re not giving, the relationship can’t work.

“I see,” Steve say slowly. “We’re both greedy. Hm.” He tips his head and looks up at Tony. “Definitely want to fuck you,” he admits.

“I’d be insulted if you didn’t,” he says wryly.

Steve smiles. “Not sure about being dominant. So... so deep in on this side, can’t quite imagine.”

“It’s not really about whether you can,” Tony says with a faint smile. “You’ve been in command of people before. It’s about whether it will get you off to be in command of me.” Steve’s breath hitches as his belly tightens with warmth. Tony’s smile widens slightly. “I’m not holding you to anything, but I think that’s a yes.”

“How do you know what you want? What if we both want the same thing at the same time?”

“You’ll be able to tell the difference. For specific cues, we can talk about them when you’re a little more yourself. As for the latter, we’ll flip a coin or something. Doesn’t really matter. Even most switches have strong leanings one way or the other. Mine is domination. I feel comfortable saying yours is submission. Most of the time we’ll probably be sympatico.”

“So you think I’m a switch, too?” Steve asks.

Tony rolls one shoulder. “Probably not, but it’s possible. Even if you aren’t, I can usually get what I need without giving up control. But even if you aren’t a switch, I told you, most people aren’t unilateral. Whether you have a craving for control or not, I’m betting you’ll be able to take it, if it’s necessary.”

“Hm,” Steve says. “Want to think more later.”

“Probably a good idea,” Tony says, smiling. “Why don’t we get you cleaned up?”

“Over there?” Steve asks, gesturing toward the corner with the toilet and the shower head.

“Ah, no,” Tony says, sounding amused. “That’s not the kind of cleanup we need right now.”

Steve gives him a puzzled look.

Tony’s smile turns into a grin. “Seriously, I’ll explain it later. It’s complicated.”

“Okay, Tony,” Steve agrees, unworried. “What about the not-a-weight-bench? What’s that for?”

“So I can lay you out across it and still have access to your cock and balls,” Tony says easily. “The chair is pretty self-explanatory from what you already know. The horse is grooved at the higher end, you can spill some lube into the groove and whomever is strapped to it has a cosy little place to rut while you strap him or fuck him. It’s especially fun to do if you don’t let them come. The bar is a whipping post. It’s what I would’ve used tonight if you hadn’t been so obsessed with the cross. It’s a kind of free-standing bondage, which would have made you stand still and take it without the benefit of being actively bound, only your willpower and your obedience holding you. Also, I can hit you from any direction. I like bondage, but I also like proof that you could get away, and won’t because I told you not to. We may have to work up to that. Your knees seem to want to give out on you after a certain point.”

Steve examines everything as Tony talks about it. He’s able to picture himself on any of it, and all of them sound intriguing. “I’ll do better,” Steve says.

“You’re already amazing,” Tony says. “Don’t worry about it. A little more experience and you won’t have a problem with it. Can you stand up?”

Steve kind of doesn’t want to -- the carpet is a hazily pleasurable prickle across his sore back and ass, but he nods anyway, and works his way upward, Tony’s hands holding and steadying him.

“It’s not far,” Tony tells him, and Steve lets himself be lead out of the kinky pain room and back into the faux bedroom, his skin pulling and warm as he moves, his eyes more focused on Tony’s ass then where exactly they’re going. Tony opens another one of the doors in the bedroom and tugs him into a bathroom with a large shower and even larger tub.

Steve catches sight of himself in the mirror, and marvels a little at how he looks. His mouth is red, his eyes are huge and dark, there are still tear tracks on his face. He stares for a long moment -- he can hear Tony running the water -- and then turns so that he can look at his back.

It is a mass of red and white welts, a couple of them darker with bruising, especially across his ass. The look of them is so unexpectedly and shatteringly arousing that Steve has to turn his face away and close his eyes at once to deal with an unexpected rebellion from his cock, which is more affected by the sight than Steve would have ever suspected possible.

“Steve?” Tony asks, his hands abruptly on Steve’s biceps, steadying him.

“I’m okay,” Steve says. “I looked at my back in the mirror.”

There is a slight hesitation, and Tony asks, “Are you freaking out on me?”

Steve laughs a little. It sounds wobbly to himself. “I’m trying not to come all over you,” he says.

Tony’s breath leaves him a harsh, soft laugh. “Good to know,” he says, his hands still firmly around Steve’s biceps. “Do you need to come?”

“That’s... Tony, that’s up to you. I want that to be up to you.” Steve opens his eyes, keeping them firmly away from the mirror. “I don’t want to pick things. Sometimes I might ask, but...”

“Shh, it’s okay, I get it,” Tony says. “In that case, absolutely do not come. When we get in the water, I’m going to wash you everyplace you’re sore, including your cock, and you are not going to come. When we’re done, I may give you a blowjob demonstration, strictly for your edification, and you won’t even think about coming in my mouth. I’ve let you come twice, and this time your cock is mine until I’m done with it.”

Steve doesn’t say anything, his mouth dry.

Tony smiles at him, eyes dark. “I still have so much to show you, Captain,” he murmurs.

Steve’s belly twists with anticipation.

“Get in the water,” Tony directs, and Steve obeys.

**

 

Later, when Steve is plowing his way through a second pizza, his cock an achy throb between his legs, Tony says, “It’s late.”

Steve glances up at him almost idly -- he feels no particular need to respond, and he loves that he doesn’t have to, that Tony knows everything and doesn’t expect him to talk when he’s like this -- and blinks.

“I don’t want you on the street like this, I definitely don’t want to go out,” Tony says.

Steve cocks his head, distantly curious, completely unworried.

“You have a suite in the tower,” Tony continues, looking up at Steve for the first time since he’d started speaking.

Steve blinks again, and finds himself unsurprised by the information. He smiles a little at the idea that telling Tony he didn’t want a suite in the tower would stop Tony from assigning him one anyway. Then he frowns a little; he doesn’t want to be somewhere unfamiliar and alone when he’s like this. At least his apartment gives him options.

Tony watches his face. “I’m not,” he says slowly, “actually suggesting you go there. I’m merely saying, if you were to stay the night, and if anyone were to ask, you actually do have rooms here.” Tony seems like he’s trying to sound indifferent; if that’s the case, he’s not succeeding particularly well.

“Okay, Tony,” Steve agrees easily, secretly and silently thrilled at the invitation. Something tightens in his chest, some emotion that Steve isn’t equipped to deal with now, but something good that he’ll take out and examine later.

Tony smiles faintly. “Excellent,” he says, still trying for casual, still not quite making it. “I’ll take you to breakfast in the morning; I know a place that makes amazing pastries.”

“Okay, Tony,” Steve agrees, smiling, too.

“Stop saying that,” Tony says, but his smile is satisfied. “Finish eating, you bottomless pit. I’m not tired yet.”

Steve smiles and goes back to his pizza.