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Steve’s got a crush on Iron Man. It’s adorable really. He sits on the floor of Tony’s lab, sketchpad in his lap, eyes round as marbles as he stares up at the Mark VII. He doesn’t think anyone notices but when he starts spending more time in the lab than Bruce does Tony doesn’t have to be a genius to see its true love.

Tony doesn’t mind it. He likes it, in fact. Iron Man is his creation and he loves it pretty damn much too.

It all starts during battle; Tony, or Iron Man,lifts Steve into the air. It’s only for a moment to get him from point A to point B, but the way Steve clings to the suit; arms wrapped tight around Tony’s shoulders, full body hugged against Tony’s side. Tony sort of wants to fly him everywhere.

After that first time Steve finds every excuse to get into the sky. Tony never gets tired of hearing: “I need an aerial view of the enemy, Iron Man.”

It’s not like Tony can say no. Steve’s the captain.

A few weeks later Steve comes to the lab, doe eyed and wearing Tony’s favorite aww shucks expression. He scratches the back of his neck, head cocked to the side and he looks up at the Iron Man armor and says, “Can I sketch them?”

And Tony says, “Yes.” Because Jesus Christ. Bruce is pretty, but Natasha called dibs and Tony could use some (safe) eye candy around the lab.

Steve comes back every day after that and watches Tony work on new designs. He gets bored with the technical parts but as soon as there’s something that resembles the Iron Man armor Steve perks up and settles near Tony’s work space.

Tony has JARVIS retrieve some of the holographic classic models of the suit and Steve practically beams when Tony twirls and turns the images, pulls them apart and puts them together again. Steve asks a million questions: How fast does it go? How much does it weigh? How high can you fly? How far? Says: Golly, Tony that’s really a thing of beauty.

Tony nods and smiles because Steve genuinely says “golly,” and because his suit’s not the only beautiful thing in the lab. And God, Tony’s head over heels already and at this rate he’s going to get himself into so much trouble. He lets Steve play with the images and tries to continue his work.

The trips around the city start soon after that. Steve asks Tony if he can go flying, for practice or preparation or some other perfectly legitimate reason that Tony wasn’t listening to because he’d already said,“Yes, of course.”

They fly late at night or before dawn, when there’s less chance of being photographed. Also less chance of Clint and Natasha exchanging knowing grins at Tony’s expense. They meet in the living room long after everyone’s gone to bed. Steve wears his uniform and Tony is probably imagining this because he’s quite conceited but he swears Steve’s eyes sparkle every time he watches the armor assemble around Tony.

“You’re amazing,” Steve whispers once as they take off towards the stars. Tony sort of swallows the urge to say, “you are, too.” Because it wouldn’t sound like him anyway, it’d be Iron Man talking.

Steve may be a super soldier, but even he can only handle so much speed. Tony’s careful to make sure he doesn’t go beyond that point; because honestly the suit can break the sound barrier if he wanted to, Tony’s just that good. They float high and dip and tumble. Other times they coast along the sunrise, the sky purpling behind them, clouds billowing like smoke stacks.

Then one evening everything changes.

They’ve just completed a mission and Tony is exhausted. He heads to the lab to briefly update JARVIS’ interface and finds Steve in front of the encased armor.Tony opens his mouth, then closes it.Steve isn’t aware Tony’s in the room. Steve is still in his uniform, though the cowl is pulled back and he’s tracing a gloved hand over Iron Man’s chest plate. He looks like he’s in a trance. His lips are wet and his skin is flushed. Tony knows before he can even process it that he won’t ever shake the image. Steve stills when he notices Tony and then his face turns a deeper shade of red, his shoulders slump and his smile is sheepish. “Sorry, it’s just—it’s very detailed.”

“Thanks,” Tony leans against the wall and forces himself to smile. For the first time since its creation he isn’t too fond of Iron Man.

Tony has a dream that night, Steve writhing against the armor; skin flushed, and naked,and he’s moaning. Moaning for Tony to fly higher, go faster. Tony wakes up sweating, touching himself until he’s finished. He has to take a cold shower after that.

----

“Does the man make the suit, or does the suit make the man?”Tony’s not trying to be profound because he really wants to know.

“I suppose an argument can be made for both.” Bruce doesn’t look up from the test tube he’s measuring.

“Well I’m just as good as the suit. I can’t fly, or fire repulsor blasts from the palm of my hands but the ideas came from inside my brilliant mind.”

“Uh huh.” Bruce begins decanting the liquid in the tube. “That was out of the blue. Something troubling you?”

Tony lifts his goggles, settles on his chair, picks up a screwdriver and begins twirling it uselessly between his fingers. “I think Steve likes the suit more than he likes me.”

Bruce chuckles a bit. “You’re serious?”

Tony shrugs. “Well, sure. I mean the first thing he said to me was just that: Take off the suit and what are you?”

“He obviously didn’t know the man, then.”

“But he does now. At least I think he does, and he still spends all his time fawning over the damn suit.”

Bruce looks up at him, eyebrows raised. Apparently he caught the bitterness Tony hadn’t meant to convey in his tone. “You spend all your time fawning over it, too.”

“That’s different. It’s my suit, I’m allowed to fawn. Steve didn’t build it. I don’t think he should get the same fawning privileges.”

“Now you’re just being petty.” Bruce looks back to his project. “I think you’re jealous.”

Tony drops the screwdriver and glares. “Jealous of what?I am not jealous. Why would I be jealous? They’re both— the suit is mine and if Steve likes it so much, maybe I’ll build him his own.” And they can live happily ever after, is what he does not say.

“Now, there’s an idea,” Bruce says slowly. “Captain Iron, or Iron America?”

Tony snorts and rolls the screwdriver along the lab desk. “Thank you for that, Bruce. You’ve shown me the error of my ways. I can’t build him a suit because I can not, in good conscience, fight crime alongside Iron America.”

Bruce smirks. “Then maybe instead of building him suits, you ought to tell him how you feel?”

Steve shows up then, before Tony can deny, protest or play dumb. His ears must be burning, if he hasn’t actually heard them talking about him.Tony watches him and remembers last night’s dream so vividly it’s almost embarrassing how fast his pants grow too tight. Steve’s cradling his sketchpad. He says a cheerful hello, settles at the bench and flips to a page in his sketchpad. It looks like he’s done a rough sketch of Dummy.

“Would you like me to build you a suit, Cap?”

“Why would I want that?” Steve erases something on the page and blows on it. His lips pout, and Tony fidgets uncomfortably in his seat.

“Bruce and I were thinking you’d make a brilliant Iron America.”

Bruce snickers on the other side of the room.

“Oh?” Steve raises his eyebrows and his forehead creases.

“Would you like that?”

“It’s a nice idea, Iron America,” Steve goes back to sketching and adds quietly, “but I think the armor looks best on you.”

Tony slides his goggles down and resolutely does not look in Bruce’s direction.

---

A week later, Tony can’t go back to the lab and show off for Steve because he comes down with the flu. He’s stranded in his room under Pepper’s orders. Clint and Natasha take turns ‘guarding the door’ so he’s not going anywhere. Pepper still sees what Tony needs better than he does and he can appreciate that. However, things like the flu are minor. Sure he aches all over, he’s dying of thirst and he can’t keep his eyes open for more than five minutes but how does she expect him to get better by lying around?

Tony would rather be in the lab building robots then confined to a bed.He points this out to her and she indulges him for about five minutes before she offers to contact his therapist so she can get back to work. He smiles at that because he still loves her quite a lot.The suit is the main reason it didn’t work between them in the end.

Iron Man frayed Pepper’s nerves from the moment she first saw the bullets lodged in it. After the attack on New York she wouldn’t let him go anywhere and even though Tony knew it was out of fear for his safety, he resented her and then things fell apart. She said she’d always love him so of course she couldn’t watch him risk his life and he couldn’t ask her too. Pepper is safer without him anyway he reasons, especially on days like today, when he really misses her.

He lies in bed, sneezing, blowing his nose, sleeping and staring at his tablet in turns. He’s surprised when Steve walks in with the sketchpad under his arm and a glass of water in his hand.

“Hey, Tony,” he says, nonchalant.

“Cap?”Tony sits up and wipes the sleepy stuff out of his eyes. It’s the least he can do; he’s seen himself in the mirror and he knows he looks terrible. “Uh. You’re here.”

“So are you.” Steve gives him an odd smile, like he’s not sure whether or not Tony’s delirious. “Thought you could use some company.” He sets the water down on Tony’s nightstand and sits in the corner chair near the window.

Tony went ultra-modern when he redesigned his bedroom in the Tower. So while most of the chairs look really fucking cool, they’re not at all comfortable to sit in. Tony doesn’t know how to ask Steve to sit on the bed without conveying what else he wants Steve to do in bed so he tries a safer topic. “What are you sketching?”

“Arc Reactor, I had JARVIS pull up the holograph. It’s incredible how it all comes together with the armor, you know?” Steve has a dreamy look in his eyes.

Tony shifts as the image of Steve pressed against the suit and gasping fills his head. The dream hasn’t gone away it’s just become more detailed. “You had JARVIS pull it up. Wow,” he says, pushing the thought out of his head because Steve is actually in his room now and it’s nothing like the dreams. “You almost sound like you belong in this century.”

Steve smiles and shakes his head. “No one in this century or the last is quite like you, Tony. I can assure you I’ve never met anyone else with a JARVIS.”

“Good point.” Tony leans against the headboard and he resolutely does not say: then maybe you just belong with me.

It takes about two weeks for the flu to clear out of his system, which is awesome. He gets to lay in bed all day, avoid meetings and the board in general, watch cartoons, and talk to Steve about current scientific theories and reprogramming Dummy and other things that Steve doesn’t understand but that he pretends to listen to anyway while sketching away. Oddly enough, Steve spends everyday with Tony. When the chair gets uncomfortable Steve spreads out on the floor.

One night Steve’s stretched out on the floor and they’re watching North by Northwest when Tony says, “There’s room in the bed.” He feels delirious after he says it and it’s weird because the fever broke at least 24 hours ago.

Steve gets up and without a word he sits on the edge of the bed next to Tony, his back against the headboard and he’s completely engrossed in the film. Tony realizes he hasn’t been paying much attention. Apparently a plane has set out to crash land on Cary Grant or something. It doesn’t matter; Tony’s got better things to focus on, like their current proximity. He’s about to ask Steve to scoot closer when Steve says suddenly, “Once you’re better, we should go flying.”

“You love to fly.” Tony slumps and lifts his tablet again.

“Don’t you?”

Tony shrugs petulantly. He loves his suit but every once in a while he just wants Steve to see him.

“If you don’t want to, I—I don’t mean to sound demanding.” Steve faces him, a hesitant smile at the corners of his mouth.

“Sorry, God, no.” Tony pinches the bridge of his nose. “I mean— yes. Of course we can go flying. We can do anything you want.” Tony gives him a winning smile and then looks back at his tablet. “I just— you’re in love with the suit, you do realize that right?”

Steve laughs. “I suppose I do, but the suit would be nothing without you.”

“Yes, Cap. That is literally true. It would be nothing without me.” Tony drops the tablet on his nightstand and sits up on his knees.“I mean. Look at me, Steve. I’m awesome. I made the suit.Iron Man makes me better but there wouldn’t be Iron Man if there wasn’t Tony Stark first. You know? So I don’t get why you like my things more than you like me.” Sometimes when Tony starts he can’t stop, the rest spills out like water from a fall. He’s never wanted to swallow words back up more. Steve has stopped the movie and he’s staring at Tony like he’s gone and sprouted ten heads.

“You are incredible,” Steve says after a while; he shakes his head and drops his face into his hands. “I don’t love the armor more than you.I love the armor because you do. You put so much of yourself into it and I love—and it shows. You’re an artist and I— your work— you fascinate me.”

“An artist?”

Steve nods, shoulders still hunched over. “Yes, Tony. You’re a builder, a creator, everything from JARVIS to Iron Man, that’s like your art. It’s intense, and it’s you. Why wouldn’t I fall in love?”

Tony’s never heard what he does described that way before. Innovator and genius sure, but art seems like the opposite end of the spectrum.

“So you like me?” Tony can’t help grinning after he says that. “I swear this isn’t an ego thing but I need to hear you say it one time.”

When Steve lifts his head his face is red. “Course I like you. I like you a lot more than I should.”

Tony licks his lips. Steve is red as a cherry flavored Popsicle, and Tony wonders if he tastes just as good. “You want to make out?”

Ten minutes later he’s straddling Steve’s lap, licking into his mouth, watching his cheeks flush and the way his eyes turn downwards every time Tony gives him a compliment. Tony kisses Steve until his lips go numb, until he’s thoroughly turned on and Steve is hard beneath him. Steve’s pupils are dilated, his lips are kiss swollen and he’s breathing heavy with Tony’s fingers in his hair and Tony grinding against him. It feels like a sin getting Captain America all riled up like this and Tony figures that’s part of the reason he likes it so much.

Then there’s a knock at the door and they freeze, Steve blinking like he’s not sure how it progressed to this. Steve doesn’t seem to mind so much, though he lifts Tony easily off his lap and deposits him on the other side of the bed. Tony grins because that’s probably the hottest thing in the world. He’s not exactly a 118 pound girl and he’s never been handled that way before. That kind of strength, they’d have to explore that.

“Hey, Stark you can come out of quarantine now.” Natasha calls from the other side of the door. She pushes it open and stares at them for a moment and then she smirks. “If you want to.” She closes the door again and he can hear her call for Clint and Bruce.

“So much for discreet,” Tony says, smiling.

Steve shakes his head, a crease between his brows. “They’ll still uh—listen to me when we’re uh— fighting and stuff, right?”

“They don’t listen to you now.”

Steve laughs, but he looks worried.

“I’m kidding. Course they will, Captain. When it counts, they always do.”Tony brushes his lips against Steve’s cheek and Steve turns and kisses him full on the mouth.

“You almost gave me a complex,” Tony says between kisses.“I was having dreams about you having sex with the suit and it just wasn’t fair. Then with me against the suit and then—”

Steve goes still and Tony wonders if maybe he revealed too much.

“God, I always wonder about your mind.” Steve is biting his lip and damn if he doesn’t look hopeful. “We could do that, if you want? If you want to against the armor.” He pushes Tony gently back on the mattress and settles between his legs.

Tony takes a deep breath. “Kinky,” he whispers before Steve covers his lips with his own.

Steve’s got a crush on Iron Man and Tony’s perfectly fine with that. After all, he and the suit are one. How can he possibly be jealous of himself?