“You are General Fury's prime candidate, Mr. Stark,” the doctor told him with his mumbling German accent, and watched as he buttoned up his shirt again, now that the examination was at its end.
“But not yours?” Tony couldn't exactly claim he was sad about that. He'd had enough of medical procedures done for more than one lifetime. While he was doing everything for the war effort – even playing the good soldier once in a long while when a general called for him wasn’t beyond him – he knew he was not the type of man who went through a procedure like this just for the love of country.
No. Not at all.
He still dreamed too often about heart-surgery and pain and sat awake trying not to think of syringes being held close to his face, his father's deranged and warped face above him, the cruel laughter ringing in his ears.
No, thank you. Enough people were trying to change who he was. He'd rather just be Tony Stark, although there damn well was no “just” about it.
“You were, actually,” Erskine slowly admitted and then smiled something like an impish smile that was sad at the same time.
Tony stopped fiddling with the buttons to meet his watery blue eyes with a raised eyebrow. “I was?”
Erskine took his file from the table, but did not open it. Apparently he knew enough. “It's an honor to finally meet you in person, Mr. Stark,” he said slowly. “I've always hoped I would get the chance some day. You see...” He looked down at his hands and the folder with Tony's name on it. “When they were keeping me at the Hydra base to work for them, I met your father. Years ago.”
Tony's shoulders stiffened. He really did not like the turn this conversation had taken all of a sudden. His coming here had been a favor done to a general he owed much in this war and his first impression of Erskine had been a favorable one. If he hadn't taken an instant liking to the man he wouldn't be sitting here, exposing himself to any kind of medical examination; not with the secrets he was keeping beneath his shirt.
“Yes, it was years ago. I suppose it's better to say I met Howard Stark briefly. For the most part he wasn't your father any more; not by that time. But he wasn't entirely Zemo yet either,” the man mused and then gave him an apologetic half-smile. “He talked about you in his less crazy moments, about how far you would go, about how proud he would be.”
The blood must have drained from his face and he steadied his hands as he quickly buttoned up the rest of his shirt and tried to hide the way this was affecting him. “Most people want to meet me, because they want to know how much of any given Marvels adventure is true.” He was thankful that his own voice was steadier than it had any right to be. But then, half of his reputation was built on acting sure when he had no idea what would happen next. He decided not to give his own painful feelings away by pointing out that he had just been a kid when Howard had “died”, that the man hadn't really known him. After all these years and all he'd been through it was still nice to hear that his father had survived a while longer and had been proud of him. He had always hoped that he would make him proud.
Erskine nodded and he looked like someone who truly understood all these things, even when Tony was trying to hold them in. “Hydra destroys whatever it touches. I wanted to meet you, because Hydra hasn't managed to get to you yet and I feel I should help you to keep it that way. But I can't risk it with your heart condition. The procedure might kill you. So we will have to find another way to help you stay ahead in this race.”
He nodded, feeling a grim satisfaction rise in himself. “I know what happened to your family, doctor,” he said. “And I know you are a good man. I'm truly glad you escaped.”
“But I did not have any intention to become a superman. I wanted Fury to shut up about it and I wanted to meet you. But I'm glad you realize now that I'm not the right man for this kind of adventure. I've been holding my own without any enhancements so far.”
“Is your suit not an enhancement?” But Erskine smiled as he asked it. It was a true smile this time. Tony shrugged, because the Iron Man was a shield and a weapon, and enhancement that protected the man inside, but that didn't change him. He preferred that for himself. “It's rare to meet someone who doesn't want that kind of power. You would have made a fine pick, but I fear your heart condition would have made the procedure dangerous. I really can't recommend you to undergo a treatment that might kill you, of course. I'm going to tell your general friend, that it's not an option.”
It was Tony's turn to grin, they were understanding each other perfectly. “I would make a bad patient and a bad soldier, doctor, so everyone is better off if you go look for someone more suited for the job description.”
“General Phillips already has his own candidates in mind.”
It was clear that none of the proposed options appealed to the doctor. “Phillips is a good general and in his own way a good man. But he is a military man and when it comes to the art of war soldiers sometimes overlook what's important outside of their profession. Pick your own man, doctor.” He jumped down from the examination table, glad to finally be able to get away from this.
“You don't want to be involved?” The doctor watched him as he put on his jacket again and made ready to meet the rest of New York as Tony Stark, suave industrialist and man of means. It had been a while for him since he'd slipped on a tuxedo before going out, but he enjoyed the change. Soon he'd be back in Europe fighting Hydra. It was best to take this chance to enjoy himself, because it was hard to tell when it would ever come again. Doctor Erskine walked him out. “Will they want you to create an army if this works?”
“Likely,” the doctor admitted, but did not look pleased by the prospect or even convinced it was viable. “Candidates need to be handpicked. We do not want to accidentally create more...”
“Zemos,” he offered, although he knew they were talking about that failed Hydra experiment he had only heard rumors about so far. Erskine had been involved in that and had been extracted right after it happened.
The doctor shrugged and gave him another half-sad smile. Apparently he was also relieved that he and Tony seemed to understand each other without much explanation of circumstances. They had both been touched by Hydra and as the doctor had said before, Hydra destroyed. At the very least it left a mark.
“It was very nice to meet you, Mr. Stark,” the doctor said as he shook his hand.
“Tony,” he said, in his accented voice. “I know you have no interest in this project, but I still believe Fury was right. You would have made a good candidate.”
“He just thinks he needs to help me,” Tony said and patted his lapels right over his heart. “But it's taken care of. The new design can keep my heart beating forever. I'm admittedly not always good at not wasting the energy stored in the device, but I'm as fixed now as I'll ever be. So there's really no need to worry.”
“I had hoped you would turn our to be someone who understood that making you stronger would not necessarily mean making you better and you did not disappoint me.” He shrugged. “I will need to look for someone else who understands.”
“There are more than enough boys around who would jump at the chance,” Tony said and looked out at the crowd of people gathering in front of the building, some of them here for enlistment. “You'll find a good man, who understands that sometimes being a good soldier is not the right thing to do.”
“Don't you want to know?”
“Who you pick?” He shook he head. “I'd rather not be involved in another secret government project for the time being. The generals are getting nervous about me knowing too much as it is and if I'm not going to play their new propaganda pet, they only have more reason to keep me out of it.” He grinned. “Good day to you, doctor. I hope we'll meet a gain. I trust you will find someone suited very soon.”
The doctor nodded, serious now. “I hope what I'm doing will help you in the long run, Mr. Stark. People don't see it yet, but we win nothing if we win this war without quenching Hydra.”
They would part with the knowledge of having found a good ally, one who understood what was truly at stake. In these war times Tony felt that was worth a lot.
He waved at the doctor as he moved outside and then attempted to walk away, but instead he walked right into someone. “I'm sorry,” both he and the man he had just walked into said at the same time, a map of sketches fell on the pavement in whirl of papers and Tony quickly helped gather them up. “Pulps?” he asked.
The young man was thin and looked a little downtrodden as he gathered up his papers. “Not a good time to want to get in that business. I should probably try for comics, but...” He looked up and at the enlistment poster. Tony felt the longing in the gaze, but realized that this young man was hardly army material, as he looked him over.
“Sound advice,” Tony said and nodded. With the war interfering in the printing business with paper cuts and the taste in stories changing, pulp magazines were having a hard time staying afloat. So far Marvels had survived, but Tony knew it would only be a matter of time if things kept moving. He wasn't worried about it. Stark Industries was what was important and with Iron Man as a mascot the company was thriving. He'd already been approached about a Tony Stark radio show and had asked Pepper for her input. Marvels and the Tony Stark Adventures would survive one way or another. A sketch of a dramatic Science-Fiction cover with space ships appearing over a skyline and a hero and lady in futuristic dress caught his eye. “This isn't bad, kid. Don't give up. One day you just might...”
The man chose that exact moment to look at Tony's face finally. “You're Tony Stark,” he said in an amazed whisper and the rest of Tony's half uttered sentence caught in his throat.
“Yes,” he admitted and made a show of looking over his shoulder to make sure nobody had overheard them. To his surprise he found Erskine standing in the entrance still watching them.
“Really?” he asked. “I mean... Of course, you're... I'm sorry. I never expected to actually meet you. Here. On a street in New York.”
“Is it that surprising to meet me in my home town? Expected a jungle setting?” he joked and the young man blinked up at him as if he wasn't quite sure that any of this was really happening.
He swallowed. “I'm a big fan,” he started, but then something behind Tony's shoulder caught his attention and he went pale suddenly.
When Tony looked, he nearly groaned. Two armed soldiers were making a beeline for them. They looked like MP. “I hope they are not here for me,” he muttered. He had not checked out that last plane he took - his plane that the army had required him to leave with them for their Howling Commando operations – following the correct military procedure.
Usually Fury found a way to shield him from these kind of things, but he had repeatedly warned him that if he felt Tony wasn't even trying then he would let him end up in a cell to learn his lesson next time. It looked like next time had arrived.
The kid, who had crouched on the pavement until now, was trying to hide behind Tony's shoulders and whispered. “No,” he whispered. “I think they are here for me.”
A spy, Tony thought, before looking the young man over again. It wasn't an unlikely assumption with the unassuming looks, but something about the desperation in the blue eyes and the clumsy way he was trying to hide from the soldiers, getting ready to just slip away, told Tony that this was something else. A professional spy would know not to get flustered.
“I lied on my enlistment forms...” he mumbled. “Ehm, three times now...”
That gave Tony pause. “You tried to get into the army three times?” he asked. “So eager to fight in this war?”
And the man nodded, mortified, then mumbled, stubbornly: “And I'd try again. I want to do my part.”
“Persistent,” Tony muttered. They had both come to their feet and Tony without thinking about it had already sprung into action again, pulling the man along with him towards Erskine who was looking at them with a raised eyebrow.
“I fear I need that help now, Doctor Erskine.” He pushed the man forward with them down the corridor. “He can tell you his own story. Tried to get into the army once too often under... lets call it pretenses. Can you get him out of sight?”
Erskine looked interested immediately. “Of course, Mr. Stark.”
“I'll distract them,” he promised, clapping a hand on the kid's shoulder. “Listen, don't let anyone tell you what you can and can't do. I'd never had gone on any adventure if I had listened to people, kid. If they tell you, you can't join the army, find a better way.”
The earnest blue eyes blinked at him as if the guy could still not believe any of this was happening. “Really?” he asked and there was the slightest hint of red in his cheeks that wasn't from the excitement of running from military police.
“Yes. Take it from me: I'm not that special. Everyone who is stubborn enough can become the star of their own story. Someone who tries to enlist more than once seems stubborn enough to me to put Marvels to shame with their adventures.”
He smiled brightly – his best daring Marvels smile - and the young man blushed even harder, flustered now. It was a good look on him, Tony thought. Something about someone like the small, unassuming but stubborn kid wanting to join up reminded him of a himself when he was younger, when he'd pushed and pushed to get his first expedition together. And the guy looked like he could use a win today.
“Thanks for the save,” he mumbled at Tony.
“This is not a rescue, it's a minor assist,” Tony answered with a flourish. He gave a salute to the doctor, before he sprinted back out, to crash right – and this time very deliberately – into the first soldier, making him stumble back.
“That was really Tony Stark,” he heard the young man mumble behind him, astonished as he sprinted away.
“Yes, indeed,” Erskine answered.
“He looks just like in the magazines.”
Tony wanted to laugh. So instead he grinned at the officer he'd just run into and said: “Sorry, chaps, didn't see you there.”
He could already see the recognition dawn on the other soldier's face. He hoped he was a Marvels fan and hadn't been set on him by either Philips or Fury to teach him a lesson, recognizing him from army files or worse.
* * *
From all Tony knew about Project Rebirth it had gone on as planned. Fury had let slip that Erskine had gone out of his way to pick his own candidate for the supersoldier serum and his choice had driven Philips up the wall. The result was a very visible and very effective new ally on the home front, called Captain America. Tony had seen some of the pictures and Pepper was keeping him up to date on new developments. Apparently the army was using the new guy as a poster boy for their own reels. A few comics with the shield and cowl were on the stands. And the reel life Captain America was fighting spies at home and doing a good job of it.
When they met up in London, Fury grinned and showed them some of the Captain America footage. A man in a cowl and battle suit that he was told was the colors of the American flag appeared, holding a shield and fighting bad guys.
Tony smiled at the whole impressive image he made. “So it worked?”
“Just like the good doctor promised. Could have been you, son,” Fury said grumbling.
“I'm already your pet project, Nick. We're both glad that it will remain that way.”
“Most days,” Fury admitted and threw him a new manila folder. “Most days, Stark.”
After all he had heard, he hoped that one day he and the good Captain could get back at the people who had killed the doctor.
* * *
Well, he was not going to have time to wait for a hero to come and safe him. He would have to take care of things himself or face the end of all that made him who he was. But who was he kidding? He had exhausted his power reserves with that last desperate maneuver and he could be glad that he'd been able to get the Iron Man armor out of the way before the Nazi soldiers had found him. With a bit of luck, Rhodey had already moved it out of the country.
But without an energy charge, Tony was stuck. He could already feel the weakness, the lightheaded nausea that came with a failing heart.
There would be no daring escapes and no astonishing break-outs today.
His best hope today was that the new supreme leader of Hydra was not as personally interested in Tony as Strucker had been and would for that reason give him enough time to die before his men arrived here to take him from Gestapo hands.
He let his head fall back against the uncomfortable stone wall, breathing the moldy, wet air of the prison cell. At least he'd made sure Pepper and Rhodey got away, because if they had been caught, nobody would have thought of keeping them alive. They only needed Tony.
It was sad and laughable to think how many times before he could have met his end: volcanic eruptions, collapsing temples and predators of any shape and size. But, yes, now it would be Hydra after all.
How very disappointing.
He could just hope that Pepper would spin him a better ending.
It wasn't his only regret. He had hoped to meet Erskine's supersoldier at least once. The stories flying around about Captain America were too good to be true, but as a an adventurer and story teller, Tony very much wanted to believe that the man Erskine had found in the end was all that the doctor had wanted him to be.
But it seemed he would have to go on fighting alone for both of them now.
Thinking of all the missed chances and all troubles ahead, Tony tried to rest for a bit, as much as the shackles allowed him to. Until he heard the creaking of the door at the top of the narrow stairs that he'd been led through on their way down. He listened intently for footsteps, but the only thing he could hear were dull noises and then grunts.
Sweat started to pool at the back of his neck as he listened. This was possibly where the next decisions he made would decide his fate.
“Someone down there?” a voice called in English.
“Who is asking?” he called back, ignoring the nagging voice at the back of his mind telling him to be careful. If this was a sick game, he wanted to see it play out and see if they would leave him any opening.
Finally steps could be heard on the stairs and then a soft voice gasped: “Mr. Stark, finally,” just as a man appeared in front of the bars to his cell. He was wearing a worn leather air force jacket over a mostly blue uniform, with red and white stripes and a star in the middle of his chest. Tony blinked at it for a moment, before his eyes wandered upwards and met blue eyes shining brightly in a face that was hidden by an equally blue cowl. “Captain America?” he asked slowly. “I was beginning to think you were just a story.”
The man beamed at that, his expressive mouth forming a smile beneath the cowl. “I knew you were more than a story, Iron Man,” he said. “Your partner's last transmission made it sound like you could use a hand this time and who doesn't jump at becoming part of a real Tony Stark Adventure?”
With the shackles he couldn't do much but stand there, rooted to the spot. By now his chest was clenching painfully, which had more to do with the strain the now slowly failing device in his chest was putting on his body, than with his actual heart, but somehow he felt lighter already. “A fan? Really?” he asked and smiled. “I'm honored.”
He was even more so when Captain America pulled the cell open without using a key. The old metal lock gave way to his strength with a loud protesting screech. “I have the keys to you shackles,” he explained sheepishly as he stepped closer. “Couldn't find the others though. I suppose different men were supposed to be holding on to those keys to keep you here.”
“How did you even sneak in here dressed like that? Bright blue isn't exactly camouflage?”
The man gave him another of the slightly self-conscious smiles and explained: “I took out anyone who could raise an alarm.”
Of course. Tony had heard he was a strategist and expert at hand to hand. But thinking about the implication was suddenly much more surreal than it had been before meeting the man himself. “Supersoldier,” he said. “So Erskine outdid himself.”
“You knew him.”
“Not as well as I had hoped I would one day,” he admitted. Captain America was in his space now, leaning up to reach his shackles and free him and incredibly he smelled of leather and a whiff of cinnamon. Tony thought that was enough to explain the lightheaded feeling, but breathing was getting harder. Ah. “You might want to know, that I do have a medical... condition. And I won't be much of help...”
“Until we recharge you,” the man concluded.
That was not exactly information that went into Marvels or any of his army files.
“The doctor told me. He told me that you were supposed to become...”
Tony shook his head in denial, but breathing was becoming harder. No, he wanted to say, but was sagging forward already, falling against the broad chest of their one and only supersoldier. At least this would make a dramatic last page of whatever Pepper wrote about it.
* * *
“Does it hurt?”
He looked up to meet the eyes of the person who was holding him steady and was faced with the blue cowl of Captain America again. “The wings are a bit much, don't you think?”
The tired smile received in return came like a blessing. “They don't really take my input when it comes to the uniform.”
“They should really have come to me about that,” he gasped, trying not to convulse. He had by now identified the sounds around them as those of a plane and knew this plane. Jim Rhodes must be flying them to safety.
“How are you, boss?” Rhodey asked at that exact moment from somewhere outside his field of vision.
“Fine, fine,” he lied. He knew he wouldn't be able to keep his eyes up for long. Not when he was resting against a warm, strong body, and still feeling all the aftereffects of his latest adventure. “Ask me again tomorrow.” Finally his eyes settled on the hero that for once had come to his own rescue and said: “It's an honor to meet you, Captain.”
“I assure you the pleasure is all mine.”
“No, really, thanks for the save,” he muttered, wanting to ask questions, wanting to tell the story of Erskine and Hydra, but he supposed that could wait till later.
Captain America patted his shoulder comfortingly. “This is not a rescue, it's a minor assist,” he said and Tony recognized the words instantly, his eyes snapping up to the face half-hidden behind the mask.
The captain was grinning now, fully aware that he had given his probably highly classified secret away just now. Not that Tony even knew the name of the kid he'd tried to keep out of a brick that day. So a kid who had tried to get into the army against all odds had been Erskine's pick? Was it as simple as that? “Nice to meet you again, Mr. Stark,” he drawled in his Brooklyn accent. “I promised the doctor I would not let Hydra get the upper hand.”
“You weren't supposed to be here at all, were you?” The realization had just come to him.
Captain America shrugged. “I wasn't supposed to come, no. But I'm not good at just sitting around while others risk their lives.”
Tony grinned. A good pick then, anyway.
They fell silent and Tony drifted off to sleep as soon as the charging was done. He woke up in a London hotel room, a cup of hot coffee on his bedside table and Pepper sitting by his side. She was smiling. “You know how to make the right friends.”
“After all I have you,” he pointed out.
She laughed as she passed him a note from Fury.
“You're alive, now get back to work,” it read in his chickenscratch writing. “Good job of bringing Captain America to the European theater. Philips can't keep him on the home front now.”
He wasn't sure he should take any of the credit. But he supposed Fury the old fox had sent him blindly into this one for this exact purpose. He frowned at the note and then shook his head. He'd get back at him for that.
* * *
“We'll find a way, Bucky.”
The voices registered loud and clear over Tony's new surveillance transmitter inside the armor and told him exactly where he needed to go. The cover provided by trees had been enough to keep even the bulky form of Iron Man out of sight for now, but with the plan that was forming in his mind now, he would need to act quickly. Hydra soldiers were patrolling the premises, recognizable by the insignia attached to their black uniforms. If someone was down there waiting for Tony, then it was best to be in and out in an heartbeat.
Luckily he had a plan for that.
Crashing through the outer wall right into the cell where they were keeping Cap and his sidekick took only a matter of seconds. Blasting away the charging soldiers with a stunning beam he'd developed just for an occasion just like this took another moment.
“Hi, Cap,” he said, and knew his voice sounded hollow and deep through the mask of the armor. “Need a lift?”
Bucky was staring up at him in awe. “You really know Iron Man?” he asked Cap.
“Yeah, but you really do!”
“I take it we're ready to leave?” Tony asked, smiling behind his mask, just as Cap was grinning at him. “Well, both of you hold on to me then. The thrusters are the fastest way out of here.”
Outside shouts were announcing the arrival of more soldiers. Tony wasn't afraid of them, but their firearms had the potential to reach his charges even at a certain height, so it would be best to be out of here, before they ever got close enough.
“That's the second time you're saving me,” Cap said, his arms, wrapped around Iron Man's metal neck and looking down towards the shrinking soldiers.
“Technically it's the first. That first time I just introduced you to a friend before you could make the acquaintance of the wrong fellows.”
“Ah,” the man said and nodded to himself. Tony could only see part of it at this angle. “If that's the story we're going with.”
There were a number of inappropriate things he could say – from “You look good?” to “Look at you all grown up” - but Tony settled for: “It's a good story, Cap. One day I'd like to hear the rest of it.”
“We could have lunch together sometime,” the man offered easily.
“I'd like that.”
From Iron Man's other side, where he was holding Bucky covered with one arm a young voice said: “I still can't believe you know the Tony Stark.”
* * *
“So,” Tony said, “Steve? That your real name, Cap?” as he sat down on the cot in their cell.
The blond man, wearing a privates uniform now, looked at him and some red was sneaking into his cheeks, like he was embarrassed about the whole thing. “Yes,” he finally admitted. “Steve Rogers, Mr. Stark. It's a pleasure to finally properly meet you.”
“Sit down, Private You're making me nervous there.”
Apparently Tony was making him nervous right where he was too, because Captain America who never showed any kind of hesitation on the battle field, was suddenly hovering there, not able to decide if any of this was a good idea.
“I'm sorry,” he finally said, as if he had anything to apologize for. “I did not want to lead you on.”
Tony had to wonder what exactly it was that he was apologizing for. Was it the fact that half an hour ago he'd had his tongue down Tony's throat or the fact that he hadn't divulged his secret identity before this moment?
“I don't think anyone was led on here, do you?”
Steve blushed a bright shade of crimson. “I did not plan on it. I...”
It was too good to watch him all flustered, so Tony motioned for him to say what he had to say, all the while grinning at him. “Yes?”
“I'm sorry I followed you out of the camp. I didn't know you were going to... a place... like that.”
“You didn't seem to be complaining when I bought you a drink.” Tony was still grinning.
Suddenly the Captain looked mortified, his cheeks an unhealthy shade of red now that seemed to go down his neck. “You're Tony Stark,” he said and it sounded like an admission, although of course that had nothing to do with the actual words and only the meaning.
It was adorable and a bit scary to think that a bit of flirting and teasing was what it needed to bring the Captain America to this. For Tony it was enough to take pity on him. He remembered the lanky man from New York with the stubborn streak – perhaps not as well as he should have, but he did remember. He imagined what it must have been like to go from someone who had been rejected by the army for his perceived failings to someone who was all this and it was easy to come to the realization that “Steve” wasn't yet entirely aware of his own appeal or it simply was a fact that the same man who had been so flustered to meet Tony Stark that first time, was still the same awed fan he'd shoved right into the arms of Dr. Erskine. Captain America looked up at him. God, he had probably been fantasizing about him since before the war, since before he'd been who he was now and for once Tony Stark felt utterly tongue tied and nervous about that.
“You're Captain America,” he pointed out, because it was obvious to him that it was the tired adventurer with the failing heart he who got lucky somehow.
Steve brought up a hand and held it in front of his eyes. “I still can't believe I kissed you,” he said.
“No need to be embarrassed. We can just forget about it, if you'd prefer that.”
“No!” The shout startled both of them, because suddenly they were both staring at each other with surprised expressions that perfectly mirrored each other.
And then Steve finally swallowed and looked a bit more like the man who put fear into Nazis and Hydra agents everywhere as he concluded: “It was a good kiss. I couldn't forget about it if I tried.”
Tony, feeling relief flood and overwhelm him, chuckled. “A shame that the Hydra robot came crashing in when it did.”
“Lucky we were both there,” Steve agreed easily.
“Not all luck, darling. I was there because I knew there was a spy who would alert Hydra to my presence there.”
“Really?” And there it was that little, confident smile that he'd seen beneath the cowl of Captain America again and again. “So you weren't actually looking for company?”
Had Captain America actually been worried that Tony was out looking for something that he'd had found no words yet to offer? That was an extremely scary thought. He hadn't even tried for a relationship since Gia had turned on him, but if he could trust anyone it was Cap, right? He swallowed against his dry throat and tried to find his voice again. “Seems like I found the right company without looking. And it looks like I have them all alone locked in a room with me.”
Steve laughed, and it was a warm and soothing sound. “It's a cell, Mr. Stark. And we're in more than enough trouble for being caught out of camp after orders to stay in had gone out.”
“Whatever Fury tries to make you boys believe, I'm not actually a soldier,” he said as he patted the spot on the cot beside himself once more.
This time Steve actually walked forward and sat down. Their shoulders were touching and Steve, now much more relaxed, leaned into him. “Private Rogers gets into trouble all the time anyway. It's not like this'll stick before they reassign me.”
“A trouble maker, huh? A match made in heaven.” When he turned to smile at him the other man's face was much closer than he'd expected, and then warm lips were on his again and they were picking up right where they'd been forced to let off. Just this time, Steve wasn't kissing him with the soft, desperate awe and affection of that first kiss, but with the demanding fire of someone who knew what he wanted. Tony met his fervor with just as much heat.
When they pulled apart, Steve's hands on his hips, his hands in Steve's hair guiding him towards that special spot on his neck, Steve breathed: “We really shouldn't, not here. How are we even getting out of the brick before Hydra tries again?”
He bucked up against Steve's body, making Steve he knew exactly what Tony had planned for him next, circumstances be damned. “Leave it to Fury,” he said softly. “He always bails me out. And he's been looking to recruit you away from Philips for a while. He'll be here. He'll give us a dressing down and send us on his merry way.”
Steve gasped against the sensitive skin of his throat: “Everything taken care of then.”
“Oh, not everything. Not yet.” And it wasn't just a sassy remark, it was very much a promise Tony was going to keep.