The Avengers gathered around their meeting table, still wearing their costumes and a thick layer of pollen. Steve held the chairman's position this week, which meant that the fallout from any villain attacks rested on his shoulders. He did his best to sound authoritative, but it was hard when they all looked like golden snowmen. "And this is why we're taking precautions the next time we fight anything that uses pollen, pheromones or any sort of chemical attack. We're lucky it was only sticky this time. Isn't that right, Iron Man?"
Iron Man was suspiciously silent.
Jan lifted off of Hank's shoulder and fluttered in front of Iron Man's helmet, waving a tiny hand. Golden dust drifted off of her like the fairy in that cartoon Iron Man had shown him. "I think he's turned off, Cap."
"Verily, the day has been a long one, and the battles fought fierce," Thor announced in that ringing way he had. "No doubt our comrade hath need of rest, as mortals do."
Steve groaned and rested his forehead in his hand. Where he touched it, the table was smeared yellow with pollen. "Verily. Alright, meeting adjourned. I'll take care of Iron Man."
The other Avengers filed out, chatting among themselves. Thor patted Iron Man's metal shoulder solidly as he passed, either congratulating him on slaughtering what amounted to a giant daisy or giving him some sort of benediction, Steve really didn't know. He waited until the others were gone before stepping up and pressing the hidden emergency release at the back of Iron Man's neck. The golden faceplate popped up, revealing Tony Stark, sound asleep in his armor.
"Oh, Tony," Steve sighed, putting the faceplate back down. This had been the exact sort of thing he'd worried about, ever since he'd found Iron Man's secret identity. Tony worked full-time as a CEO, as head of R&D, as Iron Man and still made time to live the life of an idle rich socialite. Worse than just that, he never took care of himself. Steve could count on one hand the number of times he'd seen him eat in the six months since he'd been pulled from the ice. As far as he could tell, Tony Stark ran on electricity, coffee and some sort of bleak determination to squeeze everything he could out of life before it squeezed him. He closed Tony's faceplate and put an arm around him, then bent to lift his knees. The armor added a good forty pounds, but it was nothing compared to what he lifted in the gym every day. "Come on, buddy. You're going to bed."
No one interrupted as Steve carried Iron Man through the hall. The others had probably all gone to their own beds, or to wash up. Thor had been right—it had been a long day. He was able to go from the meeting room all the way across the mansion to Tony's practically unused bedroom without seeing anyone at all.
The first thing he did was lay Tony down and take off the armor. Tony had shown him the releases "just in case". Steve put the knowledge to good use, pulling the armor off to reveal the wrinkled suit Tony had been wearing when the mutated flower garden had attacked. Then he went one farther and stripped him down to his underwear and the chest plate. Tony needed rest, and he wasn't going to get that if he was uncomfortable. He even managed to find a cloth and wipe most of the sticky pollen off of the metal, though it would need a better cleaning later.
While Steve was checking the latches on the chestplate, Tony woke up with a shout. He yanked away, arms coming up defensively. His eyes darted around the room, not quite focusing on anything, and his breath came in short pants.
Steve kept his hands in sight and didn't move, waiting patiently for Tony to orient himself. He'd seen enough soldiers on edge to recognize the signs. It was probably a good thing he'd taken off the gauntlets. "Easy, Tony," he murmured, voice low and soothing. "I was just making sure it was secure. It's still on. You're safe."
Tony blinked, eyes slowly focusing. "Steve?" One by one, his muscles relaxed, until he was sagging against the bed. "Did I fall asleep?"
"In the middle of the meeting." Since Tony was awake, Steve lowered his hands. "I carried you— what are you doing?"
The bed creaked as Tony tried to lever himself off it. "I don't have time to sleep. I need to work on the DeLancy project."
"Oh, no." Steve put the palms of his hands against the chest plate and pushed. It was ridiculously easy to get Tony flat on his back, squirming and helpless like an overturned turtle. "You fell asleep standing up in the middle of a briefing. You're going to sleep, Mister."
Blue eyes glared viciously at him from behind thick lashes. "I'll just get up as soon as you leave, then."
That was another sign that Tony was exhausted. On a better day, he never would have given away his plans like that. "Then I just won't leave." Steve glanced down at his yellow-tinted costume. It was going to take a lot of time and oil to get the leather clean, and it would be a shame to get Tony's sheets dirty. He started undressing, glad that he'd worn underwear that day. Tony's mouth gaped, but he didn't say a word as Steve got rid of his dirty costume, leaving it folded on a chair.
Bodily, he grabbed Tony's shoulders and forced him up on to the pillows, then stretched out beside him. One of Steve's arms locked around Tony's waist. The metal edge of the chest plate dug into his skin, but he ignored it. "Now stay put. And sleep."
Tony made a spirited attempt to escape, wriggling lower and higher and trying to force his way out of Steve's grip, which didn't budge. After a solid minute of trying, he finally growled in annoyance and slumped against Steve's chest. "You don't want to do this."
"I think I do."
"I could be a pervert." Tony's hand slid over Steve's hip, cupping his backside with an appreciative squeeze. "Just some sicko waiting for a chance to get you into bed. Did you think of that?"
All it took was for Steve to stretch and hook their legs together at the knee to press his hip into Tony's groin. "So could I. Did you think of that?"
Tony's eyes widened in surprise, then immediately took on a calculating cast. He kneaded Steve's rear. "Are you? Because I wouldn't object to a little mutual perversion. Between friends."
Steve blushed. Of course Tony would jump on that. He shouldn't have expected anything else. "Maybe later. After you sleep. "
The little lines of exhaustion at the corner of Tony's eyes deepened. He settled his head on Steve's shoulder, snuggling in shamelessly. "Just so you know, I'm going to hold you to that."
Steve tried to find a comforting place to rub Tony's back, but it was a choice between the armor or below the armor, and that would just start the conversation again. He settled for gingerly patting his arm. "It's a deal."