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Iron Man was laughing.

It was careless and heartfelt, bright. He sounded happy which was something Tony still struggled for most days and Steve had to swallow against the rise of emotion in his throat as he tipped his head back to scan the sky for his teammate.

Iron Man was hovering almost directly above him, some thirty or forty feet up – it was hard to tell at that angle. The sunlight was gleaming off the armor, making it shine, all bright crimson and gold. It hurt Steve's eyes, but he didn't look away. Soft chuckles still came over the open comm channel, honestly amused and touched with a genuine fondness that Tony had been slowly learning not to hide from them.

Steve tried to image the smile that would accompany that laughter and had to swallow against the sudden dryness in his throat.

He wanted to call up to Iron Man and tell him to come down to the ground, wanted to raise the face plate of the armor and see that smile for himself, wanted to see it aimed at him. He wanted to know what happiness would taste like on Tony's mouth, how that laughter would feel against his skin.

Instead he took a deep, steadying breath, reminded himself that this wasn't the place or the time – when will be? a tired voice in the back of his mind demanded, as it always did, when will Captain America find his courage? – and aimed a grin skyward in case Tony happened to look down. “Don't encourage them, Iron Man.”

“Oh, come on, Cap! Everyone's having a good time and they're not hurting anything.”

That was mostly true. There was some property damage, but it was mostly minor and seemed to be entirely accidental. The NYPD were handling the crowds, and the civilians mostly seemed to be treating the whole thing as just another Tuesday afternoon in New York City. Aside from some tourists who kept trying to snap pictures with their phones, no one seemed to even think it was terribly unusual to see Spider-Man and Tigra riding on a dragon's back as Thor and Giant Girl coaxed it down the street back toward the dimensional portal it had come from. “It's not very professional.”

Iron Man was laughing again, but at Steve this time. Steve was okay with that. “There's a protocol for this?”

One of the tourists, a young man with purple hair, was literally bending over backwards trying to get a picture of Iron Man, apparently preferring the armored super-hero to the enormous black and red dragon slowly walking down the street. Steve bit back the urge to congratulate the man on his taste. “Maybe not.”

“Even you have to admit it's at least a little cool. I mean, just how often do you get to see a real live dragon in New York City?”

Not that often, not even in their line of work. “So does that mean you're willing to forgive Reed?”

“I'm going to punch him in the teeth one day,” Iron Man said, and he sounded so happy about the idea.

“No you aren't,” Steve said fondly and he was ninety percent sure he was right.

The other ten percent, well, Reed would probably deserve it.

Spider-Man was standing up along the dragon's back, pretending to be surfing as it moved. Tigra was straddling the dragon's neck with her heels kicked out and her hands up in the air like she was on the world's scaliest roller coaster. “Well, it could be worse.”

The dragon that had wandered out of Reed's inter-dimensional portal – and did he have to test things like that in the middle of the city? What about public safety? Sure, Tony's experiments occasionally exploded and Hank had once accidentally unleashed a swarm of termites on Lexington Avenue but this seemed like a whole other level – had initially seemed like a threat. But by the time the Avengers arrived on the scene the beast had seemed to calm a little. It had seemed more afraid and confused than hostile, and while it wasn't sentient, Steve thought it was probably an intelligent animal, like a dog or a horse, smart enough to know when someone was trying to help it. Thor in particular had done wonders to settle the dragon down, cheerfully tossing his hammer down with a heavy thud and the sound of cracking asphalt as he approached and spoke to it softly. The dragon had allowed him closer until Thor could place a gentle hand on its snout and it had been quite calm after that.

“I'm going to call it Toothless,” Spider-Man announced over the comms.

“It has a lot of teeth,” Steve said, and Tigra laughed.

“The police are clearing the streets between here and the Baxter Building,” Iron Man reported. “They're asking if they should risk sending the first responders back.”

“Unless there's an emergency elsewhere, have them stick around,” Steve decided. He rolled his shoulders and hefted his shield like it would help defend him. “Say, Iron Man. When we're done here I was thinking cheeseburgers. We're not so far from that little diner that MJ used to work at, the one with the really good malts and those cheese fries you like. I could treat – I mean, if you haven't eaten yet.”

There was a split-second pause that was probably just Iron Man processing information from seven or eight different comm channels but which Steve's stomach seemed to think was the man trying to figure out how to let him down gently, then Iron Man said, “Sorry, Cap, I was talking to the-”

“No!” Giant Girl's voice came over the comm, startled and angry and then Spider-Man's voice joined her in a wordless shout that Steve didn't need the comms to hear. The dragon roared, and Steve could see it, a couple blocks down the street, rear back, Tigra and Spider-Man clinging to its back. Something crashed, heavy enough to make the ground shake, then there was the ear-piercing shriek of metal tearing and a sound like a fire hydrant bursting.

“Get them out of the way!” Tigra was shouting and Steve was already running. “Clear! Clear! Oh, shi-”

“What's happening?” Steve yelled, but he was almost there already. He could hear the ominous hiss and the sudden roar as flames erupted, thick and oily, nearly enveloping the dragon and his teammates entirely. He could hear Thor's voice, pitched low and reassuring, trying to calm the creature again, but it didn't seem to be working.

“Watch the tail, Cap,” Iron Man warned him from above. Steve could hear the repulsors but couldn't see him through the sudden wave of black smoke.

“It's a gas station,” Giant Girl reported tersely. “The dragon startled and crushed the tanks. Gas started going everywhere and there must have been a spark-”

“What startled it?” Iron Man asked, but Steve could see them through the smoke, the two men dressed in leather and armed with what looked like harpoons. They were both white, in their forties or so, and one had more piercings in his ears than Steve had ever seen on anyone before. The one with the piercings was aiming his harpoon at the dragon and Steve wanted to shake them both. Dragon hunters? Really?

They looked up as he rushed them, obviously startled to see him come running out of the smoke and only one of them recovered fast enough to dive out of the way when he threw the shield. It clipped the one with the piercings on the shoulder hard enough that he dropped his weapon and Steve came in low with a right hook that laid him out flat. “I've got one down. Anyone see his buddy?”

He could hear the dragon's angry bellow over the roar of the flames, and feel the tremor in the ground as it moved. “Iron Man, what can you see?”

“Not enough, the smoke's too thick.”

Steve followed the dragon's uneasy rumblings, relieved when he saw the creature's thick hide through the smoke. It appeared to be calming down again and Spider-Man and Tigra had both dismounted and were standing several yards away, doing their best to look non-threatening. Thor was standing by the dragon's head, speaking softly in the All Speak, while Giant Girl hovered a few feet behind him, normal-sized for now, but prepared to grow if necessary. Steve didn't need the subtle shake of Thor's head to know not to approach any closer.

“Everyone okay down there?” Iron Man's voice was terse, only a little worried that he hadn't had a full report yet.

“We're fine,” Steve said softly. The fire was still burning, even from a block away the heat was uncomfortable and he was glad that most of the area had been evacuated when the dragon first landed there. “I don't see any civilians in the area. I think we're in good shape.”

The dragon was still making unhappy rumbling sounds deep in its throat, but Thor was smiling at it and edging closer. The fire was a problem, but no one was hurt. “Anyway,” he said, slinging his shield back over his shoulder. “Iron Man, like I was saying about that burger joint-”


He spun at Giant Girl's warning, saw the second hunter behind him aiming his – spear gun? Harpoons were for whales, weren't they? – at the now mostly-docile dragon. Steve reached for the shield but the hunter got off his shot first, the spear flashing past Steve's head by a narrow margin before plunging into the flesh of the dragon's shoulder.

“Oh, crap,” Spider-Man said.

The dragon's cry of pain thundered through the air as it whipped its head around toward the threat. Steve sucked in a deep breath as its eyes caught on him and narrowed; brilliant, ruby-red and pissed. He started to raise the shield, even as he timed a dive and knew he wouldn't make it, the dragon was too close. But instead of snapping at him the dragon pulled back, rearing up on two legs and sucking in a heaving chestful of air.

Dragons breathe fire, Steve thought distantly. And then, The shield isn't going to be big enough. He braced himself to duck or dodge, hoped the thick material of his uniform would protect him, and had the totally out of place thought that he was going to regret missing lunch with Tony.

The dragon heaved toward him and Steve had enough time to realize that's not fire before he heard the high-pitched whine of repulsors working at maximum capacity. He saw red and gold, then Iron Man's hands were clenched in the mail of his uniform, lifting him off the pavement and shoving him out of the way just as the dragon spit something steaming and green.

He could hear Thor shouting in the Allspeak, and the others clamoring to know if they were both all right. The dragon shook itself violently, one claw scrabbling at the spear in its shoulder. “Tony!”

“I'm fine,” Iron Man reported. “I think it's some kind of venom.”

“I could make a really bad joke about dragons and being touched by venom,” Tigra said, “but none of you would get it.”

“Except me,” Giant Girl said, “and I am so ashamed of you right now, just FYI.”

“Hello, angry dragon!” Spider-Man was halfway up the warehouse behind them. “Should I try to pull it out?”

“No!” Thor ordered. “Leave the beast, I can calm him again.”

“Where did the hunter go?” Steve asked. “Did anyone-”

“Took off running,” Iron Man reported. “Right about the time Puff the Magic Dragon here was barfing all over me. I would like to state for the record that I did not sign up for this.”

“You always say that,” Giant Girl said, unimpressed. “Thor, want me to get big and try to restrain Temeraire here?”

“Toothless!” Spider-Man and Iron Man chorused.

“Careful,” Steve warned as the dragon reared back and tried to claw at the wound. It didn't seem interested in attacking them again, but it might change its mind if they got any closer. “Even at full-size, you're still smaller than it is. As long as no civilians are in danger, let Thor try to calm him. Then we can get close enough to try and help it.”

“Well, this is bad,” Iron Man said.

“It could be worse,” Steve replied, willing to be philosophical about it as long as no one was hurt. “I mean really, this is barely even a-” He paused as he saw the way Iron Man was standing, with his arms out to his sides. “What's wrong?”

“I don't think this is venom,” Iron Man said, his voice dry and a little worried through the comms. “I think it's acid. Or, you know, acidic venom. Either way, I have a problem.”

“Tony-” Steve said, and all hell broke loose.

Something brilliant flashed in the sky, bright enough to be seen through the smoke and the ground shook. Steve looked up instinctively, expecting an attack, but couldn't see anything like a threat. The dragon reared up, its roar echoing like thunder, and then it leaped over Thor and landed half a block away, asphalt crunching beneath its claws. Its tail lashed furiously, cracking against the side of a building, shattering glass and sending brick crashing to the street.

Spider-Man, whose vantage point gave him a good view over the smoke, cursed. “That came from the Baxter Building.”

“Right in the teeth,” Iron Man said grimly.

“Tony,” Tigra said.

“Go!” Steve ordered, waving her ahead. “Stop that thing before someone gets hurt. I've got Iron Man.” He didn't wait to see them follow his command, just turned to his friend. “How bad is it?”

“It's not through the armor yet,” Iron Man reported. “But the self-diagnostics are failing and life support is right behind it. I think it's going to be through in a minute.”

Steve swept his gaze over the armor. Fortunately the acid wasn't particularly thick or viscous, most of it had run down to drip in puddles at Iron Man's feet, but what hadn't was already leaving pockmarks and scoring away the top layers of the armor. “Okay, don't move. Let me get the helmet.” He stepped closer, careful not to brush against the armor anywhere. “Keep your eyes closed for me, okay? I'll do my best to make sure nothing drips, but better safe than sorry.”

“Yeah, one second,” Iron Man said shortly and Steve froze, his hands a hairsbreadth from the edges of the face plate. “I – okay. I was warning the first responders about the venom.”

“Good thought,” Steve said. “Ready?”

Iron Man didn't move an inch. “Ready, Cap. I've released the clasp internally, but I don't think I'll be able to help more. The armor's stopped responding. I'm going to lose speakers and life support any second now.”

That meant the acid had eaten its way into the circuitry already. Steve pulled the face plate away first, tossing it to the side of the street. He scoured Tony's face for burns, and felt a little light-headed when he didn't see any. Tony's eyes were closed, as Steve had asked, and his eyelashes fluttered slightly against his cheeks as he resisted the urge to open them. “Cap?” he asked.

“One more second,” Steve said and he slid his fingers inside the armor to undo the manual latch at the back that would let him remove the rest of the helmet. He pulled it away quickly, careful not to tilt it toward Tony and waited until it had joined the face plate on the far side of the street before he said, “Okay.”

Tony blinked at him. “Thanks. I can get the rest of this, if you want to go help the others.”

Steve could hear sirens and the distant sound of the dragon's roar, but his teammates' chatter over the comm wasn't panicked and at the moment mostly seemed to be revolving around how much the Fantastic Four were going to owe them. The consensus seemed to be big time. “They're all right for now. Just stay still, all right? I'll get this off you.”

“I can-” Tony started to reach for the chest plate and Steve saw the deep scoring on the back of the gauntlets and along the fingers.

“No!” he barked and Tony froze. “It's eating through the gauntlets. Hands out to your side, now.”

Tony grimaced, but did as told. “The gauntlets are thinner, for dexterity. Cap, your gloves aren't going to be protection-”

“Healing factor,” Steve reminded him. He pressed the release trigger on the chest plate, catching it with a soft grunt as it fell away revealing a worn Metallica t-shirt. Tony always moved so gracefully in the armor, it made it easy for Steve to forget that it weighed easily twice what Tony himself did. “And all the more reason to do this quickly. Just be still. I'm not going to let you get burned.”

“I know,” Tony said, and if anything he seemed to relax, some of the tension going out of his shoulders. “Just don't let yourself get burned, either.”

“I don't plan to,” Steve assured him. “Now don't move.”

Tony held still while Steve carefully eased away the shoulder plating and the lower back armor. He tossed all of it to the side, wincing a little at the loud metallic ring as it crashed into the sidewalk. Tony seemed to feel the same way, judging by the way his mouth turned down at the corners each time Steve tossed a piece aside like so much scrap metal. Tony loved the armor, Steve knew that, and he felt a little bad about it, but there wasn't time to treat it with more respect.

The arm shielding came away easily. Steve could see Tony's arms starting to shake from holding this position, the armor now deadweight on his limbs. He moved quickly, easing the gauntlets off Tony's wrists, making sure to tip them down slightly, so none of the acid dripped back onto Tony's fingers as he slid his hands free. The right gauntlet was the most damaged, with thick pitting and angry grey scoring across most of its surface, the original red paint worn almost completely away, and the repulsors damaged beyond repair. Tony's hand, underneath, was already burned, and Steve swore under his breath as he eased the gauntlet away as quickly as he dared.

“Did you just swear?” Tony asked, amused. He hadn't moved, but he was watching Steve closely. “My god, Captain America just swore.”

“You should have told me it was eating through,” Steve said. He tossed the right gauntlet with more force than he had the others, and examined the damaged skin of Tony's hand. Huge patches of his hand and palm were already turning bright red, but the fingers looked unscathed. It must have eaten through the repulsor casing first. His fingers hovered over the injuries, but he didn't dare touch.

“You couldn't have moved any faster than you already are,” Tony said. “Steve, I'll be okay. It's not your fault.”

“Let's get the rest off,” Steve said. “Is it through anywhere else?”

“Not yet,” Tony said. “I put my hands up at the last minute – that one must have taken the brunt of the damage.”

Better Tony's hand than Tony's face, or head, or god forbid, the arc reactor. Steve didn't say it out loud though, he just set back to his task with a grim determination to get Tony safely out of the armor.

This was not, he couldn't help but think a little ruefully, the way he'd wanted to undress Tony for the first time.

The hip and groin shields fell away easily and Steve dropped them to the sides. Underneath, Tony was wearing a faded pair of boxer briefs that appeared to be covered with – well, with the pattern of Captain America's shield.

“For what it's worth,” Tony said, resolutely not looking him in the face, “I've had these since before I knew you.”

Steve really wasn't sure what to make of that, but when this was over and everyone was safe, he was going to take a hot shower and imagine taking those ridiculous shorts off with his teeth.

“Okay,” he said, letting everything else pass. He unsnapped the leg shields and pulled them away, thigh plating first, then the knee guards. “Just the boots. We're going to move very carefully here, okay? The boots are still covered in acid, and there's puddles of it on the asphalt. So I want you to put your arms around my neck, and as soon as I hit the release I'm going to pull you out of them and get you out of the splash radius, okay?”

“You're going to carry me?” Tony demanded. “No. No. Cap, that's not-”

“There is acid all over the street.” Steve bit each word off. “I am not going to let you walk through this. So stand still and put your arms around my neck now before this stuff eats through the armor and maims you. Tony, please.

“I should have worn the underarmor,” Tony muttered, but he crouched down and slid his arms around Steve's neck, clasping his own wrist behind Steve's head. It must be uncomfortable for his injured hand, but he didn't flinch.

He usually did wear it, the skin-tight mesh of fabric that was both breathable and bullet-proof and entirely of his own design. Steve liked it when he knew Tony wore the underarmor, always too aware that his teammate was the only non-superhuman among them. But the underarmor was like a wetsuit and took time to get into properly, which meant in an emergency call, like the one that had originally brought them racing out there, Tony often chose to forgo it, strapping into the armor in anything from a business suit to – well – his underwear. Or nude. He'd done that before as well.

“Unless the underarmor is acid-proof I still wouldn't let you walk around in this,” Steve said, ignoring the fact that even if it was he wouldn't have let Tony do it, would have carried him to safety. “Ready? The boots have a lot of damage, I want to get you out of them.”

Tony nodded, and they were so close together now that Steve could feel it more than see it. Tony's arms were warm and he could feel every soft, deep breath Tony took against his ear. “Okay,” he said, swallowing. “Just hold on to me.”

“You've got me, Cap. I'm ready.”

Steve closed his eyes briefly. “I've got you,” he said. He hit the release on both boots at once, then pulled off his right glove. He wrapped that arm around Tony's waist tightly and stood, lifting Tony with him, pulling him out of the boots. “Clear?”

“Clear,” Tony said. He sounded strained but Steve didn't loosen his grip, unwilling to risk putting him down anywhere near the splatters of acid that covered the street.

He carried Tony away from the fire, in the direction the dragon and their teammates had run off in, not putting him down until they were well past the acid and the shattered glass. The smoke was thinner here too, and he glanced around to see if any of the police or firefighters were still around. He suspected they'd scattered when the dragon took off, waiting till one of the Avengers gave the all-clear to move back in and was briefly relieved. Tony would probably be unhappy if he thought someone had seen him being carried like that.

He eased Tony down gently onto a clear section of sidewalk. “All right?”

Tony pulled back with a short nod, looking away. “Yeah, I'm all right. If you want to go after the others now-”

“I'm not leaving you here, injured and in your underwear,” Steve said. He carefully worked his left hand free of his remaining glove and tossed it away – the acid hadn't eaten all the way through, but it would eventually. Both gloves were a lost cause. “How's your hand?”

Tony held it out and eyed it like he'd forgotten about it entirely, which just might be the case. “Not gonna lie. That hurts like an SOB. But I don't think it's bad.”

Steve took Tony's hand in both of his, turned it back and forth as gently as he could. The burns looked minor and if the skin was an angry red, it didn't look like it was deep. “I think you're right,” he said. He ran his hands up Tony's arm, then over his shoulders. “Are you hurt anywhere else?” he asked as he ran his hands through Tony's hair.

“Steve-” Tony said, a strangely plaintive little breath of sound. “Don't – I'm not. I'm not hurt, really.”

“Are you-” Steve looked down at Tony's face, which was turned away from him, Tony eyes lowered, staring rather determinedly at the ground. Tony wasn't the sort to blush easily, but he was blushing now, a wine-red flush of embarrassment staining his cheeks. “Hey, what-” Oh.

Those Captain America boxer-briefs didn't leave much to the imagination even when the man wearing them wasn't sporting what looked like an extremely impressive erection.

“Okay,” he said, because his own personal infatuation aside, this wasn't a big deal. “Hey, we've all been there, right? Adrenaline makes the body react like that sometimes.” He cupped the back of Tony's neck. “Hey. It's fine. I'm not-” he wasn't sure what Tony thought he would be, actually, and was suddenly one hundred percent sure that if he picked the wrong word it would send this conversation spiraling south so fast he'd need a Quinjet to catch up. “Look at me, Tony. It's all right.”

“Sorry,” Tony said, looking up but still not quite meeting Steve's eyes. “Didn't want to make you uncomfortable.”

“I'm not uncomfortable. Besides, you look embarrassed enough for us both. So don't worry about it.” He tried for a reassuring smile that probably would have been more successful if Tony was looking at him. “Just, ah, give yourself a minute for the adrenaline to wear off.”

Tony looked up then, lips pressed tightly together and eyes bright. He looked fierce, like when he was about to face down the board or when he was climbing back to his feet after taking a hit from a super-villain, when he was fighting for something important and wasn't going to let anything stop him. It was pure Tony, all spit and fire and strength and it made Steve freeze in his tracks for a moment, one hand on Tony's shoulder.

They stood like that for a long moment, with sirens blaring off in the distance, then Tony said, with a calm deliberation that belied the way his muscles were tense and stiff beneath Steve's hand, “What if it weren't the adrenaline?”

Steve stared at him, breath freezing in his chest and enough time passed – it couldn't be more than a few seconds – that Tony's face twisted unhappily and he tried to pull away. “Nevermind. Don't – It was just a question. We should-”

“Wait,” Steve said and even to his own ears he sounded wrecked and breathless. “Wait. Tony.”

The muscles under his hand were still tense, but Steve had known Tony long enough to read a wary sort of hope in the way he paused. There was trust in the way he turned back to Steve, braced for a blow, but willing to take it anyway, because Steve asked him to.

“Earlier,” Steve said, and he heard his voice coming as if from a distance. “I asked if you wanted-”

“Cheeseburgers,” Tony said. “Right, yeah, I heard.” His smile was brittle and fake, but he managed to sound fairly normal. “Right. I, ah, I was looking forward to that, but I understand-”

“No! No, we should – I want to. We should. But maybe,” Steve coughed a little. “Maybe for dinner instead of lunch? And I could – we should go somewhere nice.”

Tony licked his lips and Steve knew he was staring and couldn't stop anyway. “Steve, are you asking me –” He touched Steve's waist with one hand, light and cautions, fingers grazing over the curve of his hip and Steve thought that no other touch was ever going to compare to that first, tentative caress. “Look, if I'm getting the wrong idea here...”

“Oh my god,” Tigra shrieked through the comms. “Cap, just ask him out on a date already, this is embarrassing. And Tony, Cap has been lustily pining after you since before I joined the team, it is really, really obvious. Now either start talking dirty so I can live vicariously through you or get off the open channel.

Steve jerked away from Tony so fast he almost toppled over backwards. “Oh, jeez,” he said, half laughing, half-mortified. He looked up, expecting to see Tony rolling his eyes, but instead he saw Tony shutting down.

“Okay,” Tony said, barely more than a whisper. “Okay, that was – so that was me getting the wrong idea. Sorry. I'm just going to – I don't know. Can we – you should go after the others.” The blush had faded leaving his face pale and taut, and his injured hand, held against his chest, was shaking.

It took him too long to understand, one long minute where Tony was staring at the sky like he wanted nothing more than to take off flying and not come back, where Steve's heart was suddenly trying to beat its way out of his chest because – because he'd never wanted to make Tony look like that.

And then it clicked. Tony didn't wear an earpiece – the armor kept him linked into the comm channels and once it was gone he wouldn't have heard anything their teammates were saying. He hadn't heard Tigra, all he knew was that he'd reached out to Steve and Steve had pulled away. And laughed at him.

“No,” Steve said, then louder, “No. You didn't have the wrong idea.” He pulled the earpiece free. “Tigra was – she distracted me, that's all.” Tony's eyes flickered to the earpiece and Steve thought he saw understanding there, but Tony wasn't moving, and he still stood like he was bracing for a blow. “Would you go on a date with me?”

Tony caught his gaze, held it. “This isn't you being nice, right? Not some pity date for the poor bastard you want to let down gently?”

“I will try to never let you down,” Steve said earnestly. “I'll probably fail at some point, but never for lack of trying. I want you to go on a date with me. I want to take you out. Tonight, if the doctors think your hand isn't too badly injured.”

Tony's lips twitched a little, but he tipped his head to the side. “Moving a little fast, aren't we?”

“I've been trying to work up the courage for months.” Steve swallowed, tried to be as brave as Tony had to have been earlier, when he'd tentatively felt Steve out. “I was so afraid of ruining the best friendship in my life, you have no idea.”

“I might have some idea.” The tension was slowly easing out of Tony's shoulders. “So, dinner?”

“Dinner. And a movie? Or dancing. I've always wanted to dance with you.”

Tony looked startled. “You have?”

“You're so graceful,” Steve said. He risked taking a step closer, feeling uncomfortably like Thor taming a dragon. “I love to watch you move.”

“I have lots of moves,” Tony said, and the smile that spread across his face was wicked. “I could show you some.”

Steve was terrible at innuendo and double entendres, but he knew Tony Stark and he knew that look. “I'm looking forward to it,” he said seriously. He held out a hand and Tony moved this time, came close enough for Steve to slide his arms around Tony's waist and tug him in to an embrace.

“By moves, I mean sex,” Tony clarified. He wormed his arms free and wrapped them around Steve, burrowing against him like he was seeking shelter from a storm.

Steve laughed and pressed a kiss against the side of Tony's throat. He waited to see how that was received, and when Tony just hummed, a pleased, relaxed sound, he did it again. “I know what you meant, Tony.”

Tony arched his neck a little, giving Steve access to the hollow of his throat, the curve of his jaw. “Just making sure we're on the same page here.”

Steve carded one hand through Tony's hair. “I'm happy to be on any page you want, Tony. As long as you're there with me.”

That earned him a brilliant smile and Tony tipped his head back. A kiss, he was waiting for a kiss and Steve's heart was trying to beat its way out of his chest. He rubbed his thumb over Tony's bottom lip, feeling the way Tony's breath hitched and the unmistakable hardness of Tony's erection pressing into his hip. He felt a surge of arousal so intense that he had to swallow against the sudden desire to forget everything else and just find a soft surface. Instead he leaned in and pressed his mouth against Tony's, kissed him in an abandoned street with a fire raging a block away, acid and glass littering the street and a dragon rampaging through the city. This was his life, their life and it was perfect, so perfect, because Tony was kissing him back, sweet and soft, his lips parting under Steve's with a quiet sound that sounded more wondering than needy. This was everything Steve had ever wanted.

“I take it back,” Tony said when he finally pulled away. There was laughter in his voice again, that same happiness that Steve had ached for earlier. “I love Reed. Reed is my new favorite person. Reed is-”

Steve kissed him again and Tony held him tight. This time when Steve pulled away, Tony just leaned into him, pressed their foreheads together and breathed. “I love you,” Steve said, and it felt like a confession, like a huge relief. “I love you, Tony. I-”

Tony kissed him again and pressed the words into Steve's mouth.

Somewhere off in the distance, the dragon was roaring, a loud triumphant sound. Thunder was crackling through the air and the sirens seemed to have mostly stopped. Their teammates would be coming back any moment now to make sure Tony was all right, and to tease them mercilessly, probably for the rest of their lives.

Steve considered it all worth it.