Fuck, man. Of course this is my luck.
Here they were, three months post-Loki and still out there saving the day from any number of random assholes with chemistry sets. Well, this one guy’s chemistry set must have been particularly good because whatever that sludgy shit was, it had managed to seep into Tony’s suit and fry the connections from the arc reactor to the main power supply. So now he was trudging up Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Passaic, New Jersey, with 300 pounds of metal weighing him down. He was in shape, yes, but after a mile his suit seemed to weigh a ton, and every step was a labor.
And of course it would be his luck that he was walking right beside Steve. His cowl hung down behind his head and messy globs of dirt clung to his hair and face. He kept glancing at Tony, watching him use all of his might to lift each leg – Tony scowled with each step, and his faceplate was off so he knew that Steve could see him. He wanted him to see. Because he knew what that asshole was gonna do next.
“Need some help?”
“No, we’re almost there,” Tony said, and he tried to appear casual even though he sounded like was grunting out a shit with every step.
“We’re still half a mile from the jet.”
“Seriously, I’m fine” –
And now Steve was standing in front of him and leaning over, tucking a shoulder into Tony’s stomach before standing back up. He flung Tony over his shoulder effortlessly and without a grunt, then stood and continued to stride down the street, all the other Avengers loosely assembled but not really paying attention to them.
“Hey, put me down,” Tony protested, arms hanging limp beside his head, one hand holding his faceplate. With Steve’s every step it bounced in Tony’s weighted-down arms, bouncing up and down on Steve’s ridiculously round and tight ass. Tony grinned to himself.
“Shut up, Stark,” he heard. “This suit weighs too much for you to be dragging it around without power.” In the corner of his eye he could see Clint glancing at them and trying to suppress a smirk on his face.
“Put me down, Rogers,” Tony said again, trying to sound authoritative, but he knew that never worked with Steve. “I’m an adult, carry me like one” –
“And how’s that?” Steve asked, and suddenly the arm behind his thighs was tightening and pulling him back, and Tony was embarrassed by the tiny shriek he let out when his body was shifted gracefully into a wedding carry. Tony actually managed to hoist his arms up around Steve’s neck, finding strength in the fear of getting dropped. Steve laughed out loud, something Tony had only ever heard maybe once before, and shook his head. “Is this better?”
Tony wished he didn’t have his gauntlets on so that his arm could feel the sweat at the back of Steve’s neck. No, no. Give a puny dude a protein shake and a gym membership and suddenly he thinks he’s Jack Lalanne…
Tony looked away. His arm was feeling heavy again, but he didn’t let go. “All of this is bad.”
Now that’s a well-made glass!
It didn’t even shatter when Tony launched it at the guy’s face – some no-name from some season of Big Brother who just happened to find his way into a Stark party. It bounced on the marble tile and rolled under the foot of a paparazzo, who promptly fell down. Screams and camera flashes peppered the melee, booze and cigarettes flying up randomly from the crowd of people who resembled a mosh pit more than party guests. Somewhere on the outside of it all, Pepper was yelling full-volume into a sleek two-way Stark radio, and she hadn’t even let go of the button before security rushed in. Steve saw her point to the crowd and the security team nodded in response, and he knew he had to get Tony out of there before he really got hurt. Pepper, long annoyed by Tony’s drunken antics, was known to give security teams permission to manhandle Tony as they saw fit, and Steve would rather get a booze-scented talking-to than have to watch Tony trying to fight five bodybuilders. Because he would.
Steve shouldered his way through the crowd easily and found Tony on the ground, locked up with the celebrity no-name. They were both pretzeled around each other and refusing to let go, slurring insults at each other all the while. It was easy to unpeel the reality star from around his host for the evening, and this action seemed to catch Tony’s attention because he started chanting, “Oh no, no no no you don’t” –
Steve picked Tony up like a toddler, jamming an arm under his ass and using the other one to steady his back as he stood up straight and began walking him away towards his master suite. The sudden distance, plus Steve’s position between them and the no-name seemed to embolden Tony, who was now yelling insults again, flipping off the paparazzi and telling everyone to get the fuck out.
“Yeah, yeah – fuck you, guy!” Tony said, flailing against Steve’s shoulder as they rounded the corner, “I’m gonna sue the fuck out of you! I’m gonna sue your fucking kids, okay?! You’re gonna have to liquidate their college funds, fuckface” – and then he flailed even harder, clearly trying to get down and out of Steve’s grip. “Put me down, Steve, what the fuck” –
“You gonna behave?”
And with that Tony went into a full-on kid tantrum, kicking his legs and pounding Steve’s shoulders with weak fists. Steve finally dropped him once they were sufficiently away from the crowd, which – if Pepper had anything to do with it – was being escorted out of the building. Tony’s eyes would have looked wild with outrage if he wasn’t so drunk. He looked Steve up and down angrily, suspiciously.
“Behave?” Tony said. “This is my home and I’m a grown-ass man” –
“First thing,” Steve interrupted, his eyes hard. “This is your home, but I live here now too. And so does Bruce, and so do Natasha and Clint, and so does Thor when he’s here. Like it or not, you share your home with people and I don’t want fights and broken glass in my living room.”
There were a million awful things on the tip of Tony’s tongue, things about the apartment in Brooklyn that Steve had left to move into the tower, something about touch screens and cell phones making the Captain’s head spin, something about the chick with dark hair and huge tits in all those drawings in his room. But he couldn’t find his voice for some reason. He could only look at Steve in front of him, dressed in Dockers and a button-down for a party in Manhattan, for fuck’s sake.
“Second thing,” Steve said. “I know you’re an adult. I’d call you one of the most capable adults I knew if I didn’t have to pull you out of a fight in your own home or hide booze from you” –
“Oh, about that – seriously, Steve, stay out of my lab” –
“You do not need to have alcohol in there.” Tony wanted to protest but he knew this was true. He’d injured himself more than once while working under the influence – just small burns and cuts, nothing serious. But still.
Tony and Steve facing off typically never ended well, but they were getting better at it. Usually one of them would sense their conversation spiraling out of control and just bow out – and it was Tony most of the time, to Steve’s surprise. But right now Tony was too drunk and too high on adrenalin to know when to walk away.
“You’re a real asshole, Rogers,” Tony said as he adjusted his suit, and Steve just smirked from behind tired eyes.
“No,” Steve said. “I’m not.”
“Whatever. Fuck off,” Tony said, and he stepped forward to walk back out to the party. He knew Steve would step in front of him so he didn’t shove him like he really wanted to.
“You’re done for the night,” Steve said. Tony looked away in disgust and opened his mouth to speak, to let a tirade wash over the amazing-smelling jerk in front of him when Steve continued. “Stop doing this to yourself and the people that care about you.”
Fuck, man. Of course this is my luck.
Steve knew which knife would cut the deepest. He remembered the look on Pepper’s face when he threw that glass, the way Clint and Natasha retreated to the corners once the fighting started, the way Rhodey left after Tony began mumbling about some reality star he wanted to hammer. The way Steve picked him up and carried him out of a scuffle that had quickly been snowballing into a brawl.
“Yeah, well.” Tony just kept pulling at his cuffs, fixing the cufflinks and lining everything up perfectly. “You gotta stop picking me up, for real. You’re making me feel like a fucking kid.”
And suddenly everything was alright, suddenly there wasn’t broken glass all over the living room and paparazzi photos of Tony’s one-finger salute or even the definitely-furious Pepper hovering over the party’s evacuation. Because Steve’s angry and somehow pained face had broken into a smile.
Tony liked to Google himself. He did it all the time. He loved fan comics of Iron Man getting swatted out of the sky like a fly or using his repulsors to make grilled cheese sandwiches for the gang. He saw this one once where he was wedged into the brickwork of a building, jammed in up to his shoulders with his legs dangling helplessly, all the other Avengers giggling as the Hulk tried to yank him free. He thought of that comic right now as he examined stonework up-close, only an inch from his face and looking even closer since it was the only thing he could see out of his visor.
He was jammed pretty fucking securely into the wall of a building in Madison, West Virginia. With both of his arms down to his sides, he couldn’t blast himself out. He just had to wait there to be rescued, helpless and useless to the battle at hand. He could hear the stone around him crumbling, falling, and with a mighty crash suddenly Mjolnir was an inch from his face. Thank fucking God it was Thor and not Steve, because he’d never hear the end of it.
Tony felt arms cradling him behind his knees and across his back, and let his weight rest there, let himself be coaxed out of the hole he’d made for himself. Soon he could see sunlight and he turned his head to orient himself, only to find the grinning visage of Steve Rogers right against his own, walking him down a pile of rubble. Tony thought of turning on his repulsors and just flying away, but it would definitely burn Steve, even though he’d recover in hours.
“Sorry,” Steve said as they finally reached the ground, and he put Iron Man down.
“Yeah right,” Tony said, his voice tinny through the suit. “I think you just like carrying grown-ass men around. I think you think you’re Charles Atlas or something and” –
“Tony,” Steve said as he pulled his cowl back on, “you know your legs were too short to climb down all that stuff.”
Steve laughed as he picked up his shield and ran back into the fray, and Tony turned off his comm so Steve couldn’t hear that he was laughing, too.
“I’m not that short.”
Steve grinned into the newspaper he was reading, then turned the page. He was leaning on the kitchen countertop, his newspaper spread out in front of him and Tony beside him cutting up fruit. They were both freshly showered and had only been back home for probably an hour. Bruce was sleeping off his transformation while Clint and Natasha were being debriefed from here to hell and back. Thor had immediately lightning-ed himself to New Mexico once everything was said and done, and he had taken a gift of Asgardian chocolate for Jane with him.
“I know,” Steve said. “I was only joking. I don’t mean to make you feel bad or anything.”
Oh, Tony knew that. He knew that Steve Rogers had never made it an inch over 5’2” before he got juiced up. Steve wasn’t one to rub anyone’s shortcomings in their face.
“I know,” Tony said. “But seriously, stop carrying me.” Steve laughed, letting his head hang between his shoulders as he shook his head. “I mean, at least in front of people. I’m an adult” –
“Yeah, yeah,” Steve said, looking at Tony again. “You’re a ‘grown ass man,’ as you said.”
Tony couldn’t help but pause at that, lifting an eyebrow. And you,” he said, “just cursed.”
“I like surprises.”
Tony looked back down to his fruit. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, oranges, star fruit. There had been some kiwis earlier. Pepper thought he should eat better, and so did Rhodey. He was going to try for them.
“You seem to bring that kinda thing out of me,” Steve said, and Tony looked back to him with surprise. What? Oh.
Tony finally knew who had finished off the last of the kiwi because Steve tasted like that, tasted sweet and green and slightly tangy around the edges. Tony felt Steve’s hand on his chin, turning him into their kiss as Steve’s other hand roamed his hip and his side. Tony moaned and leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Steve’s neck as their kiss deepened, his fingers combing through blond hair and sliding along broad shoulders. Tony felt light somehow, weightless against Steve’s mouth. Like someone was carrying him.
This is gonna be rich, Steve thought.
He looked around for the remote but couldn’t find one. So he whispered, “JARVIS, turn off the tv.” The AI seemed to be a step ahead of him by shutting down all of the electronics in the lab, making the room go almost black accept for the barely lighted walkway to the elevator. He leaned down and slid an arm under Tony’s legs, then another under his shoulders. Tony was out cold, exhausted – not drunk, and Steve could tell because he couldn’t smell it on him. Still smelled like fruit.
He walked him to the elevator and leaned against the metal wall as they took the short trip up to Tony’s suite, and Steve thought of kissing Tony one more time. They’d only kissed for the first time earlier that night, and Steve couldn’t believe the self-control they’d both displayed by letting the other walk away. Steve worked on a few drawings while Tony ate and tinkered away, and he couldn’t ignore his desire to check in on Tony once he got ready for bed. He was happy he did because he’d found Tony sprawled across an overstuffed chair, head back and snoring in a position that he’d definitely regret the next morning.
But no. He wouldn’t kiss Tony again if he wasn’t awake for it. Not polite behavior.
So he just carried Tony into his bedroom, keeping his goateed face pressed to his shoulder as they entered. Steve shut the door with his foot and then deposited Tony on the bed without a sound. He removed Tony’s shoes and socks, then decided to leave him in his tank top and linen pants even though they were a bit dirty. Also, it was fairly obvious that Tony was not wearing underwear. Steve covered Tony to the waist and then leaned close to press a pillow behind his head, and he felt a hand demurely stroking his forearm. His eyes shifted to Tony’s, which were barely open, sleeping weighing down hard on them. Steve immediately blushed and grinned, knowing that Tony would lay into him for carrying him yet again, but that’s not what happened.
“Hey, thanks,” Tony whispered, and he leaned up and pressed a warm kiss to Steve’s lips. “Thanks a lot.” He settled back down into his pillow and threw an arm around Steve’s waist, pulling at him a bit. “Let’s go to bed.”
Steve didn’t move. He knew that Tony didn’t mean it the way people in the forties might have, but still. “Tony,” he said, “isn’t that a little…intimate?”
“Sure is,” Tony mumbled, so tired but still holding on to Steve’s waist.
Steve removed his shoes and socks and stretched out on top of Tony’s comforter, and Tony rolled over onto his shoulder, snoring already.
Tony stepped off of the jet and onto Stark Tower’s helipad, where Pepper waited anxiously. He’d just spent three weeks in Malibu trying to get west coast SI synched up with his east coast operations, and Pepper’s presence alone meant that even more work waited for him back at home. Well, Malibu had always been his home until this Avengers shit got started, but he supposed he didn’t mind. Being back in Malibu for that long had been odd, weird – he couldn’t count how many people asked when he was throwing a party (not if), as well as all the random girls that asked if he remembered them.
He stopped by the lab to say hi to Bruce and find out about the progress of the projects he’d left him with, and then he found Natasha and Clint in the study of all places, both reading silently on the couch together. Still, they both stood and greeted him warmly, shaking his hand and patting his shoulder and complimenting him for not wearing a three-piece suit on such a warm day.
“Steve’s in the gym,” Clint said, which puzzled Tony. “Go say hi.”
On his way to the gym, Tony wondered if Steve had been talking about him while he was gone. He wondered if Steve sat around with a wistful grin, quietly checking the calendar and asking JARVIS when Tony was due back. He wondered if he mentioned Tony out of nowhere, shared boring little stories that barely related to the subject at hand. He wondered if Steve had slept in his room while he was away.
He entered the gym to find Steve already walking toward him, slinging off his boxing gloves and running a wrapped hand through his hair. The punching bag he’d been laying into was barely hanging from the roof now and his breath gusted with exhaustion, but he wasn’t even trying to hide the smile on his face.
Tony knew what was coming. And he was learning to stop resisting it.
His arms were already open when Steve walked into them, and strong hands wrapped around Tony’s waist and lifted him off of the ground, swinging him around from side to side. Sweat smeared itself all over Tony’s ear and cheek but he didn’t care as Steve’s hands cupped his ass, holding him up, and Tony wrapped his legs around Steve’s waist. He leaned back and looked down into Steve’s shining and smiling face, a face glowing with joy.
“Wow,” Tony said, looking around a bit. “I finally know what it’s like to be taller than you.”
Steve kissed him then, kissed him with as little restraint as he ever had. “I missed you.”
Tony had learned to appreciate Steve’s strength. This man, juiced up and engineered but still just a man, could lift Tony while he was encased in metal. He was the only one who had ever come close to lifting Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer. He’d seen Steve kick cars out of his way in battle, a feat that Tony was only capable of while wearing his armor. Steve once gave Natasha a boost with one hand, just let her put her foot in his palm and pushed her up so high that she nearly overshot her destination. He was the go-to guy for opening jars. Tony had never even seen Steve lift or carry anything with both hands, only ever just one. That was all he needed.
Well actually, Steve did carry one thing with both hands, and that was Tony.
Water poured down both of them as Steve held Tony up against the shower wall, both legs off the ground and hooked onto Steve’s elbows while they fucked. Tony wanted to wrap his legs around Steve’s waist but that was okay – he liked the sensation of being held up, of feeling weightless with Steve inside of him.
Steve could carry him anywhere. Steve’s arms were strong and faultless and ultimately safe. Steve treated everyone like they were breakable and he wasn’t. Even now Tony could tell that Steve was wiping his feet on the mat before stepping onto the tile floor of the bathroom – he was still holding onto Tony, carrying him through the bedroom and over to the bed.
The trip would be short but Tony intended to savor it. He shut his eyes and wrapped his legs tight around Steve, water still dripping off of both of them and making them shine in the dim light of Tony’s bedroom. He pressed his face into Steve’s hair and held his neck tight, and he felt feather-light when Steve turned to kiss behind his ear. They reached the bed and Steve carefully rested a knee on it, leaning forward and using one hand to steady himself as he continued to hold Tony up with the other one, carefully laying them back onto the bed. It was over now but Tony still grinned to himself, still felt light and warm as Steve entered him again, leaning down over him, covering Tony with every inch of him.