Steve stared at himself in the mirror, eyes scanning up and down his tuxedo. He reached up to tweak his bowtie and then made a face when it ended up crooked in the other direction.
“Stop touching it,” Clint said, stepping around and slapping at Steve’s hand. “I will make you stand at attention, don’t think I won’t.”
Steve leveled a glare, but he knew it failed even before Clint grinned.
“Relax, Cap. Nothing is going to go wrong today.”
“I know that,” Steve said. His voice wasn’t quite convincing though, and he scowled at his reflection. His hand started to rise, but Clint pushed it back down before it got anywhere near his tie.
“I mean—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—Loki is in charge of security and you know he’s not going to let anything happen.”
Steve’s nose wrinkled. “Don’t remind me,” he muttered.
Clint laughed and slapped Steve on the shoulder, turning to survey him in the mirror. “He’s got too much riding on the success of today. There is no way he’s going to let Thor win the bet.”
“And what does it say that Thor bet against today going off without a hitch?”
“That we’re Avengers,” Clint said without hesitation. Steve sighed, but he couldn’t exactly argue either.
“There better be a hitch,” Pepper’s voice came from the doorway, drawing the attention of both men. She pointed a finger at Steve and narrowed her eyes. “And it better be between you and Tony. I did not spend a week making and remaking and remaking seating charts for everything to go to hell before dinner.”
Steve turned and held out his hands. When Pepper put hers in his, he brought them up to kiss her knuckles. “And we are very grateful you did. Have we said thank you for that yet?”
She hummed thoughtfully as Clint slipped out of the room. “I haven’t seen the bill yet, but I’m pretty sure Tony added a half dozen shoes to the order for Louboutins. But I wouldn’t say no to actually hearing the words.”
Steve smiled and pulled her forward, wrapping his arms around her shoulders and squeezing tightly. “Thank you,” he said softly.
She patted his back and then pulled away. With a delicate sniffle, she pulled a handkerchief out of the little purse dangling from her wrist. She dabbed at her eyes and nose. “Oh of course you’re welcome.” Her laugh was a little wet. “I’m just… You’re good for him, Steve. And I think he’s good for you, too.”
Steve’s cheeks flushed with heat and his hands awkwardly waved trying to find a place to go as he stared at the shiny toes of his shoes. He cleared his throat. “I hope so. I mean, I know he’s good for me. He’s…” He sucked in a sharp breath, and then shook his head. “He’s everything to me, Pepper. I don’t know why… why I ended up here or how I found him, but—” He swallowed around the lump that clogged his throat at the idea of never meeting Tony, of never having the last three years, of not having the rest of their lives ahead of them together. “He’s everything,” he repeated.
“And you are everything to him,” she whispered, taking his hands again and squeezing them.
There was a sound outside the door, a commotion in the hallway, and both of them looked. Pepper’s soft smile turned into a frown and took on an edge Steve knew he’d never have the courage to cross if it was turned on him.
“What is going on—”
“Tony, dammit, it’s bad luck!”
“You’re gonna have a run of bad luck yourself, Barton, if you don’t let me in that door!”
“Oh for god’s sake,” Pepper muttered. She rolled her eyes and marched off, disappearing beyond the carved oak.
Steve bit at his lip and considered going to rescue Tony, but didn’t get a chance to decide before the door opened again and Tony was there, backing into the room.
“Five minutes, I swear— I swear, Pepper! Five minutes! Barton, stop checking your watch!”
“You’re wasting time,” Pepper said and the door slammed shut.
Tony leaned forward, resting his head on the wood for a long moment and Steve took the time to look his fiancé up and down.
They’d spent no less than three hours debating colors of tuxedos alone before Steve declared they were going to have a Betazoid ceremony if someone didn’t pick a damn shade. It had been worth it for the way Pepper’s eyes had bugged wide and Tony had doubled over in his chair laughing. He’d had tears in his eyes before he got it under control again. Even if Tony had suggested they all wear Starfleet uniforms instead and wondered aloud if he could get Shatner to officiate, it was still worth it.
They’d finally decided on traditional black for both of them in a simple cut. The hours of fittings had almost been enough to make Steve reconsider Tony’s suggestion that they elope, but seeing him now—jacket defining his shoulders, skimming his waist and hips, pants hugging his ass and thighs—well, maybe it hadn’t been all bad.
Steve cleared his throat in preparation to speak and Tony looked over his shoulder. He pushed off the door and crossed, stopping just outside of arms’ reach to give Steve a slow, thorough scan. Heat followed Tony’s gaze and by the time he was looking him in the eye Steve was thinking about eloping again.
This whole thing was mostly for the press anyway, right? The big spectacle wedding of the year, Iron Man and Captain America tying the knot to either triumphant cheers or vehement boos. It was being broadcast live on international television—and was predicted to have twice as many viewers as the last British Royal wedding, which was just, well, ridiculous.
Tony stepped forward, hands settling on Steve’s waist. Steve automatically brought his hands up as well to Tony’s arms and leaned forward until he met Tony in the middle. He rubbed his forehead against Tony’s, tilting his head a little so he could bump their noses. He stole a brief kiss and looked Tony in the eye.
Or tried to anyway. Tony’s eyes were closed. His mouth was also pressed into a tight line and his arms were rigid under Steve’s palms. His breath sawed in and out through his nose in controlled—and, Steve was sure, counted—breaths.
“Hey,” he said, nudging Tony’s cheek with his nose. He brushed another kiss over tense lips and then again, scraping his teeth over Tony’s bottom lip to tease it out. Tony started trembling under his hands, the wrinkles at his eyes deepening as he screwed them shut even tighter.
Steve pulled back, worry bubbling up in his gut.
“Tony? What’s wrong?”
Tony shook his head sharply. His throat bobbed and his fingers flexed on Steve’s waist.
“Hey,” Steve said again. He pulled Tony against his chest and wound his arms around, tightening his grip. “Whatever it is, we can fix it.” He turned and kissed Tony’s temple. “I promise, we’ll fix whatever’s wrong. Just tell me what you need me to do.”
Tony choked out a sound and Steve honestly didn’t know if it was a laugh or a sob or some bastard child of the two. It sliced into his heart either way, leaving behind a throbbing pain.
“What is it, sweetheart? What’s wrong?”
It took a few moments and when it did, Steve only heard it because of his enhanced hearing. “Tell me you want to be here.”
Steve reared back in surprise and Tony didn’t try to stop him beyond a little reflexive clutch at his waist. He refused to look at Steve and he shifted from foot to foot.
“What?” Steve demanded, his brain refusing to process, well, not so much the words as the desperately vulnerable tone. “Tony, I— Of course I want to be here!”
Tony flinched at the shout and Steve heard the handle of the door start to turn.
He stalked over, slammed it shut again—ignoring the yelp from Clint on the other side—and turned the lock, the heavy sound of the bolt sliding home loud in the silence.
He took a moment to inhale deeply, then turned and stalked back to his fiancé, grabbing Tony’s arms and pulling him back into a fierce hug, willing the man in his arms to feel his sincerity.
“I want to be here,” he said—growled almost, but he couldn’t help that even if he wanted to. “I want to be here right now and by your side tonight at the head of the table. I want to walk down the aisle with you and dance to whatever godawful song Darcy has chosen for our first dance.” He pulled back only enough to cup Tony’s face in his hands and stare into those gorgeous brown eyes, feeling another pang in his heart at the sight of glossy tears. They hadn’t fallen yet, but that they were there at all felt like someone jabbing a finger into that wound in his heart.
“I want to fall asleep in your arms tonight and wake up next to you tomorrow morning—and repeat that every day for the rest of my life. I want to— to—” He looked heavenward for patience and inspiration and some idea of what to say to this man to convince him that there was nowhere else he’d rather be.
“I want to drag you out of the shop when you’ve been up for three days straight and I want to bring you Thai food when you won’t let me yet. I want to fight next to you and cuddle with you on the couch on movie nights.” He lowered his head and his voice, nipping at Tony’s bottom lip and squeezing a handful of his ass. “I want to make you beg until my name is the only word you remember and I want to feel you inside of me until I don’t know anything else.”
A strangled sort of gasp was wrenched from Tony’s throat as he opened his mouth.
Steve took that as an invitation and plunged in, licking deep and sliding his tongue against Tony’s on the way out. He went back again for a second taste, knowing that even a lifetime of kissing Tony, of hearing the little whimpers and feeling the shuddering roll of Tony’s body against his, would never be enough but that it wouldn’t stop him from taking everything he could get anyway.
He pulled back and saw Tony blink, smiling at the dazed expression that had replaced the doubt. Better reinforce it, though. Just in case.
He dipped his head and took Tony’s lips again, gentle this time as he rubbed and nibbled, little flicks of his tongue until Tony shook off his stupor and started kissing him back.
Fingers carded through the hairs on the back of his neck and upward, scratching lightly at his scalp. Steve leaned into it when Tony’s other hand came up to his cheek, breaking off the kiss to nuzzle into the palm and press a kiss there.
He looked into Tony’s eyes again and was relieved and pleased to see they’d softened with love, the creases at his eyes from smiling now.
“Well,” Tony said, voice husky, the nonchalance of his words belied by his tone. “I just had to make sure. Wouldn’t want to force you into something you didn’t want.”
Steve slid his hands down Tony’s sides until he had a grip on Tony’s thighs and lifted. Tony’s eyes flew wide and he lurched forward, grabbing onto Steve and wrapping his arms around Steve’s neck.
He met Tony’s gaze and then laid a kiss on him that didn’t end until Tony was slumped against him. Tony buried his face against Steve’s neck until he got his breath back and then looked up.
“I don’t deserve you,” he murmured.
Steve pressed his lips to Tony’s forehead. “You deserve more than I can ever give you,” he countered. “But I’m going to try anyway.”
Tony hid his face again and Steve just held him, savoring this moment in a day that was only going to get crazier from here.
A knock on the door prompted a grunt from Tony and then he wiggled. Steve let him down and was smoothing out the lines of Tony’s tux when a key scraped in the lock and the door opened. Pepper looked in. She smiled and then withdrew.
“They’re dressed, Clint, you can go back in now.”
It was Natasha that entered though, stalking over and grabbing Tony’s arm to drag him back out.
Tony tried to get one more kiss and Steve met him halfway, but Clint stopped him from going any further.
“You look great by the way!” Tony called, his grin back in full force.
“You too!” Steve said. “See you soon! Love you!”
Tony reappeared, fingers clutching the door. “Love you!” Then he was pulled away with a yelp and vanished.
The door was shut and Clint started fussing, muttering about Steve’s appearance and, “Honestly, like eight hours. You two can’t wait eight goddamn hours? It’s not like you didn’t wake up together this morning.”
Steve chuckled and let himself be put back together to Clint’s satisfaction.
Darcy popped her head in as Clint was recombing his hair and said, “He’s not gonna get any hotter, Clint. You can’t make perfection better. Now come on, it’s time!”
Clint grumbled and stuck his tongue out at Darcy, but he smiled at Steve. “You ready, Cap?”
Steve pressed his hands to his stomach and resisted the urge to tug at his bowtie. “Yeah. Yeah, I really am.”
Darcy accepted Clint’s arm and they led the way to the vestibule behind the grand ballroom that had been done up in style for the day.
Steve’s eyes were searching as soon as they turned the corner and he found Tony almost immediately, Natasha, Jane, and Bruce fussing since Tony was nowhere near as restrained as Steve and kept plucking and shifting things. Well, mostly Jane and Nat were fussing. Bruce was standing by for moral support with an amused smile on his face.
“Stark, I will make you spend your honeymoon in the ICU if you don’t stop touching that,” Natasha snarled as she slapped his hand down from his neck again.
Tony did as she asked, but mostly because he’d spotted Steve too. He inhaled deeply and let it out, then nodded. “I’m fine. I’m good. I’m fine,” he said. It almost sounded like the truth, even.
“Oh thank God,” Bruce said, looking relieved.
Pepper slipped out through the side door and beckoned them into the center of the vestibule where the large doors waited to open for their entrance.
She gave Steve and Tony one last look over and then nodded.
“Okay. This is good. We’re good.”
Tears filled her eyes and she sniffled and laughed in embarrassment, but she shook it off and straightened her shoulders.
“I’m so happy for both of you,” she said as she picked up Steve and Tony’s hands and pressed them together. Tony’s fingers immediately laced through his, gripping tightly. Steve gave him a smile and got one back.
Warmth flared in his chest and settled down into a nice little wildfire, spreading out and suffusing the rest of him with a calm certainty.
He mouthed, “I love you,” and got a brilliant grin and the same back.
“Okay!” Pepper said as the music began on the other side of the door. “Places! Places!”
She and Natasha took their spots at the front, arm in arm. Behind Steve and Tony, Darcy and Clint lined up. Bruce and Jane brought up the rear.
The doors swung wide and revealed a blinding cascade of flashes before Steve remembered to avert his eyes slightly. Seven seconds later it stopped and he opened them again to see the room full of people, some he knew personally, some professionally, and some only because he’d had to walk a thousand press gauntlets since waking up in a new century.
Pepper and Natasha’s music cue came and they stepped out in perfect sync. Steve waited for their cue, looking down and then back up when Tony’s hand squeezed his.
Tony was looking straight ahead though and was a bit pale. Steve squeezed his hand back and then their note came and it was time.
They walked the endless length of silk laid down between the rows of chairs drawing ever closer to the front of the room. Thor waited there, dressed in his full royal regalia, Mjölnir in hand.
Nat and Pepper split and joined Sam and Rhodey already up there. Steve and Tony took their respective spots while Darcy, Clint, Bruce, and Jane found their places on the dais.
Thor brought Mjölnir up and held it between the two of them. “Place your hands and let them be bound as your lives will now be bound together.”
Steve and Tony brought their joined left and right hands respectively up and rested them on top of the hammer.
Steve felt kind of bad about missing what Thor actually said, but, in his defense, he was looking at a future he hadn’t been sure he’d ever get standing across from him. It was a little distracting.
Darcy and Jane brought the rope and tied it around their arms, passing the gold and red and blue and silver ropes over and under and looping it through and back until Steve couldn’t be pried from Tony if he wanted to be.
He really, really didn’t want to be.
He did catch the part where Thor said his name and glanced over.
“Steven Grant Rogers, do you agree to this binding and swear to honor it for all time?”
Steve swallowed and looked back to Tony. “I do.”
“Anthony Edward Stark, do you agree to this binding and swear to honor it for all time?”
“I do,” Tony said, refusing to take his eyes from Steve.
“Then I declare thee bound as one, witnessed before this family and the stars that watch over us all. May the Odinfather look on this union with favor for all of your days henceforth.”
Darcy broke the spell with a whoop and then she and Clint—perpetual teenagers that they were—started chanting, “Kiss him! Kiss him! Kiss him!”
Steve’s face twisted into a wry grin, but he stepped forward as Thor moved Mjölnir and used his free hand to wrap around Tony’s waist and pull him in. Tony’s mouth opened under his, meeting his advance and matching his fervor.
Distantly he was aware of deafening cheering, but he didn’t pay it much attention. He had better things to be doing right now.