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The Best of Life and Asgard

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“Is this sparkling cider?”

Tony Stark stared suspiciously at his glass, eyes narrowed, lips pursed. The glass had no answers to bestow, so he switched his gaze to Thor, who gave him a shrug. He seemed apologetic, but there was amusement glinting in his eyes. “Of a sort,” he said. “Tis tasty.”

“Tis non-alcoholic,” Tony said. “Tasty is one thing. Non-alcoholic is the anti-tasty. Let's, let's not do this.” He held the crystal goblet towards Thor, the stem pinched between his thumb and his forefinger. “You spend about half of your waking hours bragging about Asgardian booze, and you give me apple juice with bubbles? Why would you give me the kiddie drink?”

“It is not a drink for children,” Thor said, his brows drawing tight together as he took the glass..

“Well, I should-”

“Our children drink wine,” Thor said, and Tony decided that he was done with this conversation.

“Okay, you know what? I'll find my own drink, there are enough giant oaken barrels scattered around, at least a few of them must have alcohol.” With a pleasant little wave of his hand, Tony set off across the Asgardian court, his destination clear.

“Most of them do,” Thor said, ignoring the very clear social cues and falling into step with Tony. He was in full regalia, and Tony took a step to the side because man, that was a hell of a lot of cape. “But it was agreed that you should not drink tonight.”

“No. No, it was agreed that I would not get DRUNK tonight,” Tony said. “Big difference. I can drink without getting plastered. I'm not in college any more, I can pull that off, really.” Thor was giving him a look, and Tony frowned. “Don't give me that, that face. I am not going to create an international incident.”

Steve had been very, very insistent that they not create an international incident. Tony was trying not to take that personally. It was harder then it should've been.

Consequently, he was currently as far away from Steve as he could get, and that was not childish, that was just him being rational and adult and avoiding something that would result in a screaming argument in the middle of a public appearance. It was certainly easy enough to avoid Steve, it was a big room and there were about a thousand Asgardians and just one Steve, and in halls of marble and gold and swathes of velvet and silk, one rather oversized human could blend right in.

Which wasn't to say that Tony didn't know exactly where Steve was right now. Because he had issues.

“Look, if I can't drink, I want food,” Tony said, heading for one of the many, many buffet tables that had been set up around the room. “I have met, I have shaken hands, I have remained sober, I have not impregnated anyone, successful international or intergalactic interaction! I'm gonna go find a turkey leg or meat on a stick, pretend I'm at a Ren faire where everyone is taking their roleplaying really seriously, and just wait for this to be over.”

Thor clapped him on the shoulder with a bellow of a laugh, causing Tony to stumble forward a few steps, dress shoes sliding on the polished marble floors. “Eat, and make merry with your newest comrades,” Thor said, and it said a lot about Thor that he was not making a joke.

Tony opened his mouth, and closed it. Not worth it. Not at all. “Yeah. Great. Good idea.”


“And the goat got off the ladder!”

Tony choked into his glass of apple juice. “You are kidding me,” he accused Fandral. Fandral shook his head, because he was laughing too hard to form words. “You are fucking making this up, there is no way that Thor would-”

Fandral grabbed his shoulders, giving him a slight shake. “I swear 'tis true! Ask Thor, he'll tell you himself!”

Tony folded forward, laughing so hard that he was crying. It took him an embarrassingly long time to get a hold of himself. “Oh, my God, I do not believe a word of that. It is a good story, but you, you lost me with the Harpies, no, I do not believe you, you are a liar, my good sir.”

Fandral was still laughing, his cheeks red, his eyes dancing. “Ask Volstagg!”

“Oh, please, Volstagg is clearly enjoying messing with the humans,” Tony pointed out. “He tried to bench press Clint. I'll ask Hogun. He seems reliable.”

“More fool you, he's anything but,” Fandral said.

“Listen, if you think I'm going to-” Tony jumped as a pair of arms wrapped around his waist from behind, and a solid, familiar weight settled against his back. He tipped his head back over his shoulder. “Hey,” he said, grinning up at Steve. This was weird. Not bad. But weird. Not that he minded, but Steve was usually a little more discreet with his displays of affection when they were 'on duty.' “How's the party treating you, Cap?” He covered one of Steve's hands with his own, surprised when Steve's fingers tightened.

“Okay,” Steve said, staring at Fandral, who grinned at him.

“Fandral was telling me horrific lies about Thor, a goat, and a series of dresses that may or may not have been sized for an Asgardian of his stature,” Tony said, leaning back into Steve's body. It had been a long night, and it seemed like the party was still going. Thor had warned them that Asgardian parties could go on for days, but Tony had long since lost track of time.

“All of it true, I swear on my honor,” Fandral said.

“Wow, you are just-” Tony started, and then Steve punched Fandral in the face.

For an instant, Tony just stood there, completely confused about what had just happened. Fandral, who'd been knocked back into a nearby buffet table, knocking plates and food in all directions, just sat there, blinking, a look of bemused confusion on his face. He reached up and touched his nose.

“What the fuck just happened?” Tony asked no one in particular, but since everyone in the room had frozen, everyone got to hear him sounding like a moron. “Steve, what-”

That was as far as he got before Fandral let out a hoot of laughter and flung a plate of delicate and delicious pastries in Steve's direction. “A mighty blow!” he howled, scrambling to his feet, “yet not enough. Have at you, Captain!”

“No, no, NO!” Tony yelled, trying to get between them, his hands up and his palms flat. “No, don't-” Steve lifted him off his feet and set him to the side and caught Fandral in mid-rush. The two of them crashed to the floor with enough force to shake the marble, and there was a roar from somewhere, somewhere behind Tony, and he was not sure what was going on, but he pivoted on one foot, braced for anything.

The ham hock that hit him on the side of the head, he wasn't really expecting that.

In his defense, he thought as he went down right before someone tossed a table into the wall, as odd as his life was, it had not prepared him for flying pigs.


As it turned out, Asgard was very forgiving of people who started brawls during diplomatic gatherings. As long as it was a good brawl. A brawl that was still, in the most technical sense, going on, but the humans had been politely shuffled off into a lovely room full of couches and subdued lighting and plenty of space to stretch out and do a quick debrief. Or at least try to do a debrief. With limited information and a lot of adrenaline, it wasn't going well.

Which never even slowed Coulson down.

“Explain this again,” he said. He had miraculously escaped the chaos, his black suit not showing so much as a bit of lint, his dress shoes still at a mirror shine. But his hair was disordered, and his tie was crooked; for Coulson, that counted as being disheveled.

“I don't have an explanation,” Tony snapped. “I have nothing. I was standing there, I was talking to Fandral, Steve came over, Steve punched Fandral in the face. Then, boom. Chaos.” He scraped the remains of a fruit tart out of his hair. “Then I lost a perfectly good suit.”

“What happened to your jacket?” Clint asked, nursing a crystal goblet of amber liquid. He had a black eye, a split lip, and he was missing a big chunk of his shirt and one shoe.

“I used it to put out the fire on the balcony,” Tony said. “Then threw it in the punch bowl.”

“Good choice.”

“That was the best fucking party ever,” Darcy said from the couch. She was sprawled out with her head in Jane's lap. Her glasses were crooked, her hair was a mess, and she was wearing a man's dress shirt over the top of her dress. Strapless, as it turned out, was not the best choice for this party. She handed Jane her cup, who refilled it from the pitcher on the gleaming table. Jane was grinning, her cheeks pink and her hair held in a bun with a length of ribbon. She was pretty much untouched, but there were stains down the front of her red and silver dress and she was missing a glove.

Coulson gave her a basilisk stare over the top of his goblet. “Ms. Lewis, I'm glad you enjoyed yourself, but since this was supposed to be a diplomatic undertaking, you've made a mess of our stated purpose.”

“I didn't, Cap did,” she pointed out. “And I'd like to point out that I scored a couple of direct hits, I'm wearing Bruce's shirt, and got three, count 'em, three marriage proposals.” She thrust her fist in the air. “And only ONE of them came after I kinda ripped my top, so two of them were purely for my fightin' skills.” She tipped her head back. “By the way, thanks for the shirt, Bruce.”

“Glad I could help,” he said, shaking his head. He was still wearing his tie, and with a distinct lack of shirt, it was pretty comical.

“The Chippendales look works for you, Bruce,” Tony said, grinning at him. “But you want a shirt or something?”

“That'd be nice. I was offered a cape, but I thought that would just make the situation weirder.”

“That would be a unique look,” Natasha agreed. The slit in the side of her skirt had started out reaching her knee, it was now all the way up to her hip, and her high heels were discarded beside the chair, an array of weaponry that she'd taken off of various fighters piled in front of her. Tony got the impression that she could've raised an army tonight if she'd had the impulse towards world domination.

“This is a disaster,” Coulson said, rubbing his forehead with tense fingers.

“My brothers!” Thor was grinning like a fiend as he strode into the room. His cape was gone, his armor battered and dented, Mjolnir hanging at his side as he came in. “This is a gathering that will go down in our histories!” He clapped Coulson on the back with enough force to knock him forward in his seat. “You have shown yourself to be admirable in conduct and combat!”

“We started a food fight slash riot,” Tony pointed out.

“My good mother admires your aim,” Thor said, flinging himself down on the couch next to Jane. He leaned in to give her a quick kiss, but he was Thor and she was Jane and it didn't end up being quick.

“And I admire your mom's sword arm. Seriously. That woman has a swing that could put her on the Yankees' starting roster. So on the positive side,” Tony said, “we have not started a war with Asgard, so great. Can we go home now?”

“No,” Coulson said. “Thor?” Everyone waited, and Coulson sighed. “Thor!”

Thor raised his head and grinned at the room. Jane struggled to catch her breath. “Aye?”

“Did Fandral say what started the fight?” Coulson asked.

“He did not know. He said merely that the good Captain had a solid, swift punch.” Thor shrugged. “What does Steve say to the matter?”

“He hasn't said anything,” Tony said, sighing.

Everyone looked at Steve, who was staring at the floor, his face set in grim lines, his eyes narrowed, his shoulders hunched. He'd lost his jacket and his shirt was untucked under his perfectly tailored vest, and he'd lost a big chunk of one pant leg, Tony still didn't know how he'd managed that.

It was Natasha who rolled to her feet, coming around to crouch in front of him. “Cap?” she said, reaching out. Her nail polish was chipped, and there was a napkin wrapped around her palm, but she stroked Steve's cheek with steady fingers. “What happened? Are you all right?” Steve muttered something, and she leaned in. “What?”

“He was flirting with Tony,” Steve ground out, and just like that, every eye was on Tony.

Tony blinked at them. “What?”

“He was... Flirty,” Steve said, his voice raw. “And he kept TOUCHING you.”

“Uh,” Tony said, because what the hell was he supposed to say to that?

“Fandral touches everyone,” Thor said, grinning. “He hugged you as well, when we first arrived, do you not recall?”

Steve slumped lower in his chair, his face set in petulant lines. Natasha looked at Tony and tipped her head in Steve's direction. Tony spread his hands the best pantomime of 'what the fuck am I supposed to do' he'd ever managed. Judging by the way her eyes narrowed, she wasn't impressed by his effort. Tony took a deep breath. “Uh, Steve? Really. We were just talking, he wasn't FLIRTING flirting, he wasn't making a pass or anything, believe me, I recognize a pass, and talking about goats does not count. Not by a long shot and-” He stopped. “Wait. Wait. You punched him because you were JEALOUS?”

“Is that really so out of the question, Stark?” Clint asked, one foot propped up on the wall.

“For Steven Rogers to use physical violence in a social situation because he lost control of his emotions?” Tony asked.

“Well, fuck, that is out of the question,” Clint said. He set his cup aside and came to his feet. “Nat?”

She was running her fingers over his forehead, down his neck, lingering on his pulse point. “He doesn't feel feverish.” She leaned in. “Pupils are normal.”

“I'm fine,” Steve muttered, folding his arms.

Tony pulled his phone out and aimed it in Steve's direction, tapping the clear interface. “Jarvis? Quick scan?”

“I'm fine!” Steve said, surging to his feet, and it said volumes about how much the team trusted him that no one so much as took a step back. Steve stood there, breathing hard, swaying, and then said, “Maybe not so much,” right as he pitched forward.

Tony grabbed one arm and Natasha lunged for the other, and they didn't really keep him upright, but they slowed his groundward descent a bit. “What the FUCK?” Tony asked, as Steve slumped forward. Tony took the brunt of his weight, and threw his arms around Steve's chest purely in a defensive move. “Are you drunk?”

“Oh,” said Thor, and Tony glared in that direction as Steve wrapped his arms around Tony's waist and started nuzzling at his throat.

“Oh, what 'oh?'”

“He might be,” Thor said, wincing. “He did partake in the mead.”

“But he doesn't get drunk,” Coulson said, as he and Thor tried to muscle Steve back towards his seat. Since Steve had decided that Tony was something worth holding onto, literally, in this instance, Tony went along for the ride. “Does he?”

“He says he doesn't.” Tony tried to ignore the fact that he was in Steve's lap, with Steve's face buried in his neck and it was really, really hard to ignore that. He sucked in a deep breath. “Steve? Steve, no, okay, we're just going to-” He gave up and let Steve kiss him.

In the background, he could hear the rest of the team arguing about the situation, and it didn't seem all that important until Clint announced, “Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster.”

Tony wrenched his lips away from Steve's, and Steve didn't seem to care, he just lipped his way down Tony's neck. “What?” Tony asked, drawing their attention.

“Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster,” Clint repeated. “Look, the reason why he doesn't get drunk is because his metabolism is in overdrive, right? So his system churns through the alcohol before it has a chance to affect him. But what if something hit him hard enough to overwhelm his metabolism?” He shrugged. “'A slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick just hit him upside the head.'”

“I do not understand,” Thor started.

“Don't pay any attention to Clint,” Natasha said. “You gave Steve mead. Wouldn't you know if he was drunk?”

“He seemed fine, possibly it affects humans in a different way than it does Asgardians.” Thor shrugged. “For us, it is a slow process, to be intoxicated on good mead. He had two glasses in my presence, and seemed none the worse for it. Then, without warning, he simply walked off.”

“So the effects him him suddenly,” Tony said. “And are lingering, it would appear by the fact that he is giving me a hickey right now, and usually he gets a little embarrassed just saying the word hickey.” Tony stroked Steve's hair, refusing to be embarrassed by this, for God's sake, he'd done far worse in public, and he was mostly clothed right now and Steve was apparently really enjoying his collarbone.

“Maybe he's not drunk, maybe he's just a vampire,” Clint said.

“Keeps him out of trouble.” Tony gave him a tight smile, but maybe it was the post fight adrenaline, but Clint was flushed and laughing, his balance a little off as he made his way back to the couch. Tony narrowed his eyes, because Jane was unaccountably quiet and Darcy was giggling, and Natasha was a bit more languid than he would expect. She also hadn't taken any pictures of this, so that was odd. “Thor, tell me you only gave Steve mead.”

“Of course, it would be foolish to allow any of the rest of you to drink it.”

“Wouldn't he notice it?” Bruce asked, and there was a distinctly red cast to his nose, and he was blinking a lot. “The taste of alcohol, I mean.”

“It tastes little like Midgardian alcohol, truth be told. It is mild and sweet, with a bite on the tongue, crisp and bright at the end. It tastes like warm honey and spices and apples.”

There was a beat of silence.

“Like, this stuff?” Darcy held up her goblet. “This stuff that was left in a giant pitcher in the room where we were sent to recuperate?”

Tony glanced around the room. “The stuff all of you were drinking?” he asked. “Everyone. But me. Are you telling me I am the only sober person in this room?”

“Fuck me,” Coulson said. He seemed as shocked as everyone else that he'd said it aloud.

“Sure,” Clint said, grinning as he fumbled at the buttons of his shirt.

“No!” Tony snapped. “No. Absolutely not. Thor, I need a fast track shot home, and I need it now. We are not going to do this, not here, I want us back at the tower where I can lock people in their rooms and do not have to-” He grabbed Steve's wrist as fingers tried to slip beneath the waist of his dress trousers. “Okay. No. Thor! Now, we are getting out of here now!”

Bruce stood up. Then he hulked out. And passed out, crashing to the floor with a shuddering crash that shook the building. As he started to snore, Tony struggled to breathe.

“Oh, this is going to go so badly.”


“Okay, the important thing is that we all remain calm,” Tony said. He paused. “Mostly me. It's important that I remain calm.”

There was a moment of silence. “Your attempts appear to be less than successful,” Thor pointed out.

“I would like you to not call attention to that.” Tony choked on a yelp as Steve's arms closed tight around his waist, lifting him bodily from the floor. “Or this. Don't call attention to this, either.”

“As you wish,” Thor said, grinning at him. “It is hard to miss, however.”

Tony tried to glare at him, but it wasn't particularly effective. It was hard to be intimidating when he couldn't quite manage to get his feet back on the ground. Or when he was pretty damn sure that Steve was sniffing his hair. When Steve sobered up, the two of them were going to have a discussion about this.

“Have we a plan?” Lady Sif asked, because she was a practical sort of lady. Practical and cheerful and with a core of steel that Tony respected. It was she who had made their excuses to their hosts while Thor collected the Warriors Three and gathered everyone here.

She hadn't so much as blinked at the tableau they'd presented. Tony was impressed by that. Between Clint and Phil canoodling on the couch, Hulk snoring away on the floor, Jane and Darcy doing a cancan style dance with Natasha singing in off-key French, and Steve attempting to get what remained of Tony's clothes off, it was clear that the situation was completely out of control. Sif had merely arched an eyebrow and hiked up her skirt with one hand, stepping delicately over Hulk's limp arm and catching a vase that Darcy had tried to throw across the room.

Tony liked Sif. A lot.

“There's always a plan. It just might change a couple of times over the course of the next few minutes,” Tony told her. “It's flexible. Almost, well, liquid.” He paused. “But there's a plan.”

“But is it a good plan?” Volstagg asked with a broad, honest grin. “Tis a question that must be asked.”

“I make no promises.” Tony took a deep breath and Steve pressed hard against his back. Tony refused to think about the obvious pressure of Steve's erection, because in that direction lay absolute chaos. “Okay,” he said, reaching back to stroke Steve's hair. “Here's what we're going to do. Thor, you're going to have to get Hulk moved for us.” He paused. “Let's hope he sleeps through the trip.”

Thor nodded. “To judge by his snoring, we may have the luck of the ages on our side in this one thing. Volstagg, I may well need your help.”

“Aye!” The large man grinned at them, already shoving the sleeves of his shirt up. His arms were massive, thick with muscle, and his hands were huge. “'Tis a mighty burden, but easy enough for the both of us.”

“I'll take your word for that.” Tony glanced to the side. “Hogun, Fandral, if you can shove those two on the couch in the right direction, that'll be wonderful.”

Hogun looked at the couch, where Clint and Coulson were a mess of limbs. He shrugged. Fandral grinned. “That seems an easy enough task.”

“You'd think so, but they're both remarkably wily, Clint has reflexes that fall somewhere between 'terrifying' and 'unearthly,' and Coulson once killed someone with a poinsettia.” Tony paused. “So keep him away from the planters.”

“That's a rumor,” Natasha said, waving her hand in an expansive gesture. She was slumped low in a chair, smiling from beneath the sweep of her hair. She seemed pleased with the world at large, despite the fact that Thor had removed the mead.

“I'm relieved,” Tony said, sardonic. Steve nuzzled his ear, and he twitched.

“It was a cactus. Christmas cactus. One of those ones with the weird spiky red flowers?” she said. “I assume that the holiday greenery got-” She continued speaking, but stopped using English. Tony was pretty sure that was Romanian. Everyone listened politely, but then again, he supposed with the All-Speak, the Asgardians could actually understand her.

“Don't be ridiculous,” Phil said from somewhere underneath Clint, so maybe he understood her, too. Tony was doing his best not to look in that direction; he was pretty sure they were both still decent. By clothing standards. By every other standard, they were distinctly indecent, and Tony had been accused of not having much by way of standards. “It was a bonsai.”

“No,” Clint said, raising his head. He blinked hard, his eyes narrowed as he made an obvious attempt to think. “That was Osaka, not Stavanger.”

“Relief is gone. Okay.” Tony twitched as Steve's teeth scraped against his ear. He was breathing a little too hard and a little too fast and he was concentrating very hard on the problem at hand and not the fact that he would really like to just find the nearest bed and get Steve's pants off.

He gave his head a hard shake. It wasn't going to happen, so he needed to stop thinking about it.

“So, yes, good, keep them away from anything that could be a weapon, and that would be everything, everything is a weapon to these people, it is a problem,” he continued, aware that he was babbling and not much caring. Mostly because Steve was licking his neck. “Just... Keep them from attempting any coups.”

“That would be good,” Hogun said, his voice dry. “And then?”

“And then we get them home and lock them in their rooms until the sober up. Or something, I'll figure it out. The plan is fluid,” Tony said. “Lady Sif-”

She waved him off, giving him a brilliant smile. “Just Sif is fine. What do you need?”

“If you could just steer Darcy and Jane in the right direction until we're home, I'd appreciate it.”

Her smile died. “I am as strong as any of the Warriors Three,” she said, eyes narrowing. “And I can handle any of your comrades as well as they.”

“Oh, I get that, but you're also the only one who can pick up Darcy without attracting Natasha's wrath,” Tony said.

“It's true,” Natasha said, her voice languid and silky. “I acquired six new blades tonight, and I'm interested in seeing how they work out for me.” Her head rolled in the general direction of the Warriors Three. “Just so we understand one another.”

Hogun arched an eyebrow, and Fandral nodded with enthusiasm. “Your intent is well understood,” he agreed. Tony had been under Natasha's withering glare before; he didn't blame Fandral for folding his hands together over his crotch. It was a natural, and altogether sane, reaction to Natasha at her most terrifying.

“Natasha is the best,” Darcy said to Sif, waving an expansive hand in the air. Jane ducked without even looking in her direction. “Seriously. The best.” She got to her feet, and it took way, way too long, even with Sif's steadying hand. “Can I paint your toenails?”

Sif blinked. “If you would like,” she said, her voice full of laughter. “Lady Jane? Will you be joining us?”

“Fuck yeah!” Jane said. She grinned at them. “What are we doing?”

“Painting nails, sharpening knives, discussing boys and theoretical physics,” Darcy told her, clinging to Sif's arm with both hands. “I wanna eat something bad for me. We should do that. We should TOTALLY do that.” Her glasses were crooked on her nose, but her cheeks were flushed and her grin was infectious.

“I'll have takeout delivered,” Tony told her. “Sif, you've got them?”

“Easily enough,” Sif agreed. Darcy went on tiptoes to kiss her on the cheek. Sif gave Darcy a curious look, and Darcy fluttered her eyelashes at her. “Or perhaps not.”

“Welcome to the Avengers. Nothing is easy.” Tony took a deep breath. “All right. Let's do this thing.”

The Warriors Three were apparently not ones to back down from a fight, and Tony had to appreciate that. It took only a few seconds to get the majority of the group on their feet and moving towards the door. Darcy was catcalling at Clint and Phil, enough to break them apart so Clint could grin at her and Phil could glare at her. Jane wandered back, snuggling against Thor's side. She played with his hair, distracting him for a second before Darcy grabbed her arm and dragged her away..

Tony made sure everyone was moving, with the exception of Hulk, and then turned his attention to his own problem. “Okay, Steve,” Tony said, his voice wheedling, “let's put me down now, and we can go home. Right? Doesn't that sound good?”

Steve buried his face in Tony's neck and mumbled something against Tony's skin. Tony sighed, reaching back to stroke Steve's hair, his fingers sliding easily through the strands. “C'mon, buddy,” he said. “You need a shower, some food, some coffee and a bed.”

Making an unhappy noise, Steve cuddled up against Tony's back, one of his legs nudging between Tony's. Tony felt his face heat, and he gritted his teeth. “Okay. Yeah, we need to-” His teeth snapped together as Steve arched his hips into Tony's back.

Thor was watching them, his face troubled. “Perhaps,” he said, his voice soft, “it is best if you not remain alone with him. He is a great deal stronger than you, when you are without your armor, and he is not himself.”

Tony gave Thor a look. “It'll be fine.” Steve's fingers slid under the waistband of his pants, and Tony had to make a grab for his wrist. “It'll be-” He choked as Steve's fingertips teased the sensitive skin just below Tony's belly button. “Okay, ah, no, let's not-”

Thor shook his head. “If he attempts to hurt you-”

Tony gritted his teeth. “Steve!” he snapped, harsh and sharp. “Stop it! Put me down!”

And just like that, he was on his feet, so fast that he almost lost his balance. Steve retreated, his face twisted in confusion and hurt, his eyes huge. He chewed on his lower lip, his eyes darting between Tony and Thor.

Wincing, Tony reached for him. “Okay, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, it's okay, you're fine, I'm sorry, I just needed to make a point, it's fine, you didn't do anything wrong. C'mere.” He wrapped his arms around Steve's shoulders, stroking the nape of his neck. He kept up the soothing clatter of words, until Steve relaxed against him.

“It's fine,” Tony said to Thor. “He won't hurt me.”

Thor nodded. “If you need help-”

“I'll call.” Tony kissed Steve's jaw, avoiding his mouth because that would be a mistake. Really. A mistake. “How long is this likely to take to wear off? How soon until they start sobering up?”

“We have no experience with this,” Thor said with a shrug. “There is no way to say.”

“Then we'll treat them like regular drunks until it's proven otherwise.” Tony met Thor's uneasy look without flinching. “Look, we've got it under control, it'll be fine. We just have to get them home.” He took a deep breath, and the air smelled like Steve. “Everything is going to be fine.”

“We have a problem,” Fandral said from the door.

Tony resisted the urge to swear. “What?” he asked.

“It's Clint,” Fandral said, shrugging.

“I do not like this already,” Tony told him.

“He went missing in the hall. We think-” Fandral paused. “He might have-” He sighed. “We think he went up one of the chimneys.”

“Well, fuck,” Tony said, his head falling hard onto Steve's shoulder. Steve stroked his hair, making a worried noise.

“Was it in use?” Thor asked.

“No,” Fandral said. He paused, his hands braced on the doorframe. “But we can't convince him to come out. He may have made it to the roof.” He glanced behind him. “The Son of Coul is laughing, and the sound is most disconcerting.”

“You know what? Kill me now,” Tony said.

As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he knew they were the wrong ones. Steve went stiff in his arms, every muscle going taut in a single instant and before Tony could backpedal or take it back, Steve had lifted him off his feet, thrown Tony over his shoulder, and was running for the door.

“Oh, come ON!” Tony yelled, grabbing for Steve's shirt with both hands, holding on for dear life as Steve sprinted for safety. Or where ever he assumed safety was. “THOR!” he yelled, as much as he could yell with Steve's shoulder digging into his abdomen, “I'LL BE RIGHT BACK!”

He was starting to really hate mead.


“That was unpleasant,” Tony said.

“Aye,” Sif said, the word flat. “That it was.” She shifted, hefting a sleeping Jane a little higher on her back. Jane snored against Sif's hair, her arms draped limply over Sif's shoulders. Most of her skirt was gone, and Darcy was balancing one of Jane's shoes on her head, but Sif had convinced Natasha to stop juggling her throwing knives, so that was a plus. Darcy was wearing a tablecloth like a toga, and was carrying a loaf of bread in her arms, cradling it like a baby. Sif looked at Darcy. “Where are your rooms?”

“Please,” Darcy said, her nose in the air. Jane's shoe fell off her head, and Natasha snagged it out of mid-air. She almost fell over doing it, but no one else seemed to notice. “I don't put out on the first date.”

“'Tis fine,” Sif said, her eyes dancing. “As this is not a date.”

Darcy's eyes narrowed. “Ooooooh,” she said after a second. “OOOOOH! Great! This way.” She bounced off, and laughing, Sif carried Jane after her. Natasha swayed after them, and managed not to run into any walls. More than that, she managed to look sexy while barely keeping herself upright.

“I think I need a shower,” Clint said. He held up his hands, considering them. His blinking white eyes were stark against his soot-covered face. “I think maybe I should do that.”

“You look like an nineteenth century chimney sweep,” Tony said, trying not to wince at the jet black footprints Clint was leaving on his rugs. “You don't need a shower. You need a fire hose.” Clint sneezed, and that was unpleasant. “Or a waterfall. Do me a favor, try not to touch anything.”

Clint nodded. Took one step forward, and tripped over the end table. Soot went in all directions.

Fandral shrugged, black dust rising from him at the small movement. “I am impressed,” he said to Coulson, who was the only clean one left in the room. “How, exactly-”

“Trade secret.” Coulson reached down, snagged Clint by the back of the shirt, and pulled him to his feet. Clint swayed there for a second, then collapsed back into Coulson's arms. Coulson sighed. “Shower,” he said, but he was smiling.

Clint leaned his head back, grinning. “Shower sex?”

“No!” Tony called after them. “No! Do not- No!”

“Maybe,” Phil allowed.

“No!” Tony yelled. “Don't-” He gritted his teeth hard when Phil chuckled, low and soft. “Jarvis, put the whole tower on high alert, monitor everyone and everything that happens until I remove the alert. Vital signs, movement, any signs of distress, everything. If anything seems out of the ordinary, I want to know immediately.”

“Yes, sir,” Jarvis said. There was a momentary pause. “What variables am I to use to draw these conclusions?”

“Use your best judgment, Jarvis, we're in uncharted territory here.” Tony caught Steve's hand and pinned it to his stomach. “Uncharted territory all over the place.”

“Banner is secured,” Thor said, sweeping back in. “Volstagg remains, to keep watch on him.”

Hogun and Fandral exchanged a look. “Perhaps,” Fandral said, with an easy grin, “we will go and keep him company. So you might see to the Lady Jane.”

Thor clapped them both on the shoulder. “Thank you, my friends. I would very much like to do so.” He glanced at Tony. “Unless you require our assistance?”

“No, thanks, I got-” Tony jerked as Steve nuzzled the side of his neck. “I got this,” he said, and his voice was a little too high, a little too reedy for his peace of mind. He managed a smile in Thor's general direction. “Jarvis, keep an eye on Clint and Phil, and let's see how long we can wait this out.”

The room cleared quickly after that, and Tony struggled free of Steve's hands. “Okay!” He clapped his hands, trying to sound professional. “Let's get you some coffee, and we can-”

“Okay,” Steve said, but he was pacing forward, his stride loose and smooth and predatory. His teeth flashed. “We can wait in your room.”

“Wow, that is an amazingly bad idea,” Tony said, and he was retreating, just a couple of hopping steps at a time, but still, this was humiliating, he should not be retreating right now. “Now, we need to wait here. In case someone needs our help.”

Steve paused, chewing on his lower lip. Tony tried to tear his gaze away from Steve's mouth, but it was mesmerizing. He swallowed, trying not to think of that mouth, those teeth, on his skin. “Are you sure?” Steve asked, and Tony had to think hard to figure out what the hell he was talking about.

“Yes,” he said, and he made the word very firm. Certain. “We have to stay here. So how about I make some coffee and we can just-” His words stuttered to a stop as Steve slipped into his personal space, very close, very hot, his breathing audible as he slipped his arms around Tony's waist. “Okay, Steve, we need to-”

“No, we don't,” Steve said, dropping his head to nuzzle at Tony's ear. “I don't wanna.” His teeth scraped against Tony's skin, not enough to hurt, just enough to sting.

Tony's whole body jolted. “Okay, but we-” His feet left the ground and he had an instant of vertigo, then he grabbed for Steve's shoulders. “We have to stay here,” he said, his voice firm.

“Okay,” Steve said, and tumbled them both onto the couch.

“Oh, boy,” Tony said, his hands scrambling on the leather, trying to get a grip. “Okay, wait, this is a bad idea, Steve, this is not-”

Steve pulled back, and his face was twisted with misery. “You don't want me?” he asked, his voice aching.

“I do, you know I do, but right now, you're not-” Tony stroked his hair away from his forehead. “You're not fully in control of yourself, so we are not going to have sex.”

Steve dipped his head, his lips almost but not quite touching Tony's. “But I want to,” he whispered. He shifted against Tony, and Tony went dizzy at he feel of Steve's heavy erection rubbing against his hips.

“We can't,” Tony told him, and the words pained him, there was actual pain involved with forcing them out. “I'm not going to do that to you, because-” He cast about helplessly, because Steve was staring down at him, all liquid puppy dog eyes and swollen lips and flushed cheeks. “You're making this very hard, Steve.”

“I'm sorry,” Steve said. His eyes fell to Tony's mouth. “Can we-” He licked his lips, a flicker of his pink tongue that made Tony groan. “I just wanna kiss you.”

That was a bad idea. That was an insanely bad idea. Tony opened his mouth, hoping to find some way to verbalize that, and Steve kissed him, soft and gentle and almost reverent, and he was weak, he was so very weak. Tony's fingers sank into Steve's head, dragging him down. Steve made a pleased sound against his lips, pleased and grateful and this was a TERRIBLE idea, and Tony no longer cared.

Dizzy, panting, he pulled away, and Steve didn't seem to mind, he just shifted his body against Tony's, shifted down, just a little, and nuzzled at Tony's throat, his fingers slipping beneath Tony's shirt. This was a horrible idea, and Tony could no longer remember why. He shifted, and almost against his will, his legs fell open, his knees coming up so that Steve could settle into the cradle of his hips.

After that, he stopped thinking entirely.


Tony considered ignoring Jarvis, but judging by the tone and volume of the AI's voice, this was his third or fourth attempt at gaining their attention. He wasn't likely to stop, at this point. With a real effort, Tony wrenched his mouth away from Steve's. Steve made an unhappy, almost pleading sound that went straight to Tony's groin, and Tony stroked his hair. “Yeah,” he said, and his voice was raw and thick. He sucked in a wobbly breath as Steve arched into his body. “I know. Sorry, I know. Jarvis, what?”

“My apologies, sir, but the Lady Sif has been waiting to speak to you for some time.”

“Christ.” Tony sat up, and it was difficult because he was a tangle of limbs; Steve's hands seemed to be everywhere at once. “Okay, just a second, give me-” He choked on the word as Steve's palm slid up the plane of his stomach, his fingers teasing against the rim of the arc reactor. Tony pinned his hand in place. “Okay. Yeah. Sif?” he called. “Something wrong?”

She peeked around the corner of the doorframe, her big dark eyes warm. “Nothing, I am sorry to interrupt you,” she said. Steve made an unhappy noise and buried his face in Tony's neck. Sif's lips twitched in a smile, her eyes dancing. “I am sorry, Captain. But Lady Darcy was asking for a meal?”

“Fuck, yes, yes, I promised takeout, Jarvis, can you just-” Steve was slipping against him, languid and strong and so hot that Tony actually felt himself blush. “Order-” The word ended on an embarrassing note. “Steve, give me a second here?”

Steve glared at him, brows drawn low over his eyes, his lips swollen and red. “I don't WANT TO,” he said, petulant. But he sat up at Tony's urging, glaring at Sif over the back of the couch. As soon as Tony fumbled his way into a sitting position, Steve dragged him into his lap.

“So, yes, food,” Tony babbled, because he was blushing, and wow, that was just embarrassing. “Jarvis, order the usual, uh, Chinese, that's a lot of starch, rice is good right now, yeah, that'll be fine, in fact, triple the order and just, well, just get us food, Jarvis.”

“Of course, sir,” Jarvis said.

Sif was smiling at them. “How do you feel, Captain Rogers?” she asked, and Steve ignored her, hugging Tony tight.

“I'm sorry,” Tony said. “I don't know what-” He sighed. “He's apparently clingy when he's drunk.”

“So it would seem,” she said, her lips twitching. “You are well?”

“I'm fine,” Tony said, catching Steve's hand before it could slip under under the waistband of his trousers. “He's fine, he's just-” He gritted his teeth and Steve shifted behind him, snuggling closer, his breath hot on Tony's ear. “I wish I knew why he was doing this,” he muttered.

“My esteemed mother,” Sif said at last, “told me, when I was but a babe, that if I ever were to love a man of royal birth, then I would never have the whole of his heart. I would have, in the end, only as much of him as I could capture, through whatever wiles and wisdom I had at my disposal.”

She smiled. “Perhaps, if I may be so bold? What he wants right now is just your attention.” She inclined her head, her eyes laughing under the dark sweep of her lashes. “You might find your evening easier if you were to just give it to him.”

“I'd find my evening easier if I just gave in and had sex,” Tony said.

“He's no fool. The easiest way to gain the full attention of a man is to offer him sex,” Sif said. “But such attention is fleeting, isn't it?” She nodded. “I will let the others know that we will eat soon.” With a graceful bow of her head, she withdrew. “Good luck!”

Tony reached back and stroked Steve's hair. “Are you feeling neglected?” he asked, his voice gentle. Steven didn't say anything, but he nuzzled Tony's shoulder. Tony tipped his head to the side, trying to see Steve's face. “I'm not around all that much, am I?”

“Don't mind,” Steve mumbled against his shoulder. But his eyes were sad when he glanced up at Tony. “Most of the time.”

Tony stroked his cheek, rubbing a thumb against Steve's cheekbone. Steve leaned into the touch, his eyes fluttering closed, his lips parting on a faint sigh. Tony's chest ached, and he tramped down on the feeling with ruthless determination. Now was not the time to let guilt influence him.

Later, they could have an actual discussion about this. Now, he just had to handle it.

“Okay,” Tony said, taking a deep breath. “We can do whatever you want now, okay? Just you and me.” Steve's eyes popped open, and grinning, he opened his mouth. “No sex,” Tony said quickly. “Anything except that.” Steve's face fell, and it was comical, but Tony bit his lip to keep from laughing. “Other than that, what do you want to do?”

“Sex,” Steve muttered against his shoulder.

“I know, I know, you'll sober up and then we'll be spending a lot of time doing that, I promise.” Tony leaned in and kissed his mouth. “So pick something else.”

Steve thought, his face scrunched up. “Poker!” he burst out at last, a grin blooming over his face.

“Okay,” Tony said.

“Strip poker!” Steve said, and Tony burst out laughing.

“We are almost- Yeah, no, that's-” He shook his head. But he could use this. They were both worse for the wear, and getting Steve clean and fully dressed couldn't hurt. “To play strip poker, we have to have something to strip, right? So let's just get a shower, get cleaned up, then put on clothes.”

“I don't want to put on clothes,” Steve said, his eyes sweeping over Tony's body. “I want you naked.”

“That's cheating, I have to be wearing clothes to start the game,” Tony said, as if that made sense. Steve considered it and nodded, slowly. “So you need to shower and get dressed, and then we can play poker.”

“Strip poker,” Steve said, because now he was certain about this.

“Strip poker,” Tony agreed. He got up, and pulled Steve after him. “But who ever wins strip poker gets to choose what we do next,” he said. Steve swayed on his feet, and purely to keep him on his feet, Tony wrapped his arms around Steve's waist. Steve learned into him with a pleased purr. Tony struggled to keep his brain on topic. “Steve. Right? Whoever wins, gets to choose the next game?”

Steve's hands slid down to Tony's ass, squeezing. “You're cheating.”

“How-” Tony jerked. “How am I cheating?” he asked, breathless.

“I don't know,” Steve said. “But you're cheating.” He pulled back. “I should get a handicap,” he said. “Because I can't think now. It's hard.”

“Handicap, right. That seems, that's fair.” Tony slipped an arm around his waist and started steering him towards the elevator. “What kind of handicap?”

“I wanna choose my own clothes,” Steve said, utterly serious about this.

“Great, that sounds great,” Tony babbled, pushing him along. “That seems fair. Shower. Then clothes. Then we can play strip poker.” And later he would think about saying those words to Steve Rogers and break down into a gibbering mess of hormones. He shook his head hard, trying to get blood back into his brain. He gave Steve a sharp pat on his ass. “Shower!”

“Okay,” Steve agreed, wrapping his arms around Tony's waist and dragging him along. “We can shower.”

“No, no, no 'we' there is no 'we' here,” Tony said, and there was no way that this was going to end well. Gritting his teeth, he forced himself to move forward. He could do this.



“Jarvis, is he okay?” Tony asked for what seemed like the twentieth time. He paced the living room floor, his feet beating an uneven tattoo. He checked his watch.

“He is fine,” Jarvis said. “He is nearly finished dressing.”

Tony released a breath, shoving his hands through his hair. The strands were damp to the touch. He'd ducked into his own shower after managing to get Steve naked and in his without losing the battle to keep his pants on. It had been the fastest, coldest shower he'd taken in a long time, but whatever, it had done the job. He felt a little bit more in control.

He could control this. He was in control. Barely.

“You're sure,” he said to Jarvis, and the AI didn't sigh, but the sound was there in his words.

“Yes, sir. He shall be along soon.”

“Everyone else?”

“There is nothing new to report,” Jarvis said. “All parties are safe. I will inform you if there is any change to that, sir.”

“I know, I know, but-” Tony turned on his heel. “Are you SURE-”

“Sorry, I couldn't remember.”

Tony spun around, and stared, his mouth gaping open. “Oh, that's not fair,” he said.

At the top of the stairs, Captain Steve Rogers blinked down at him, his dress uniform crisp and perfect, his hair smoothed into place beneath his cap, his shoes polished to a high shine. Steve held up his tie. “I couldn't remember how to knot it,” he said,his cheeks flushed.

“That is one hell of a handicap,” Tony said, his voice faint. He was so aroused that he was dizzy with it. He grabbed for the wall, using it to hold himself up. Steve came down the stairs, his movements careful and stumbling, but he stopped in front of Tony, so close that Tony could smell his soap and the clean scent of his skin underneath that.

Steve blinked at him, eyelashes still damp. “Will you tie me?” he asked. His face twisted. “No, that's not- That's not right.” He took a deep breath. “Will you tie me up?” he asked Tony, holding out the tie.

“I am going to hell,” Tony said. “And I no longer even care.”