The first time it happens, Tony comes to with his face buried in Steve’s chest. It’s definitely not the worst way to wake up, whoo boy, but it is a little confusing.
“Steve? Steve, what are you doing?” he asks, pulling his head back and tugging on his wrists, because they are currently being held in Steve’s hands. The only thing he can think of to explain this is that Steve grabbed him and rubbed his chest all over Tony’s face for whatever pleasurable but inexplicable reason—although really, who wouldn’t want Tony’s face all over their chest? Nevertheless, the man has obviously never heard of personal boundaries.
“Tony . . . are you drunk?” Steve asks hesitantly, and nice, Steve, nice.
“I’ll have you know that it is either way too early for alcohol or way too late, take your pick, but I don’t drink until at least—”
He stops, because he sees something that definitely shouldn’t be there, and shit, this isn’t his bedroom. When did that happen? And why doesn’t he remember Steve forcing him to grope him? Not that it’s a hardship, and really, if Steve had just asked, Tony would’ve been all for it, but still. Tony hadn’t even realized he didn’t remember.
Maybe he is drunk.
“Possibly?” he says doubtfully, and Steve guides him to the couch and brings him a wastebasket just in case.
The next time it happens, his head is between Natasha’s thighs, which is something he might enjoy more if not for the whole being crushed to a pulp and the subsequent obliterating pain.
Luckily, she must hear a change in the tenor of his muffled screams, because she asks, “Are you going to be good?” and he nods as emphatically as he can.
He lies on the ground afterward and checks to make sure his eyeballs are still in his head as he groans, “What the fuck?”
“You are a persistent little bugger, aren't you?” Clint says, amusement in his voice, and Tony lifts watery and thankfully still working eyes to glare at him. Why is Clint even here? For that matter, why is Natasha here—oh wait, they’re having their weekly gym session, aren’t they? Because Steve thinks the team that trains together, stays together.
“I did warn you,” Natasha says, looking as composed as ever. She’s not even sweating after tossing him on his ass, which is plain rude as far as he’s concerned. “Usually, the first time I throw a guy to the ground is enough warning, but you were remarkably persistent.”
“You’re lucky she likes you,” Clint says and reaches down to give him a hand up.
“It doesn’t feel like she likes me,” Tony says, and ugh, his ears just popped. Well, at least he can hear better now. Now if only the rest of his body worked.
“You still have your balls, don’t you?”
Steve interrupts before he gets a chance to respond, saying, “I think something’s wrong with Tony,” and he couldn’t have said that before Natasha took him down in a move reminiscent of the glory days of pro-wrestling?
“You mean more so than usual?” Clint asks, because he is a class act that way.
They drag Tony to SHIELD’s headquarters where they do test after test on him and discover there are increased levels of way too hormones running around in his blood, and that he’s emitting some kind of harmless, low-level energy that stops after an hour or so. Plus he keeps seeing the color orange as blue. Weird. The doctors don’t know what’s going on, surprise, surprise, but they promise to keep researching.
Natasha doesn’t apologize, but she does give him a killer neck massage, and that’s almost as good.
The third time it happens—ugh, what is his life that there is a third time—there is good news and bad news. The good news is that he’s in his living room, and he’s not touching anyone, and no one’s touching him, and he’s not in extreme pain.
“Why am I naked?” he asks, and that’s the bad news. Kind of bad anyway. Whatever, naked is a good look on him.
Steve wraps a blanket around him, and Tony gets the feeling that it’s not the first time he’s done so by the way Steve manages to avoid looking directly at Tony while still getting it snugly around his shoulders.
“Well?” he prompts when no one answers.
“You wanted—” Steve lets out a little cough, cheeks red and not meeting Tony’s eyes. “You wanted to prove to Bruce that you were called ‘Iron Man’ for a reason.”
Ah, that makes total sense then.
The fourth time, he finds himself outside Steve’s bedroom, knocking on the closed door and in full wheedling mode. He can tell because his voice is a little higher-pitched than normal, and he can feel the puppy-dog expression on his face.
To be fair—not that he wants to be fair, but it’s not like what he wants matters anyway—it could be a lot worse. With JARVIS’ help, he’s figured out that he’s only ever truly out of it for a couple of minutes, and the memory lapses are getting shorter each time. Also, the color thing has totally resolved itself, so that’s a relief. Most importantly, he doesn’t get violent or anything crazy. He just flirts for the most part and gets a little too close to people, and okay, yeah, loses all sense of shame, but he can’t really blame that on the spell or the drugs or whatever it is that’s causing all this. What can he say, he likes being naked.
Nonetheless, he wishes everything were back to normal.
“Sorry about that, Steve!” he calls through the door.
There’s a brief silence before Steve asks, “Are you alright, Tony?” all suspicious, like Tony’s tried this gambit before.
Huh. He wonders if it worked.
Tony knows he should feel bad that he’s got Steve holed up in his apartment, but a part of him kind of feels like he’s stumbled upon a bunch of fluffy kittens wearing bowties and glasses, and he’s being bowled over by the cuteness. Without the suit, Steve could break him with one hand, but instead of using force to keep Tony away or just letting Tony steal a kiss or two that he won’t remember later, Steve’s resorted to hiding in his room in order to keep Tony safe from himself. It’s incredibly sweet, and it makes Tony smile softly, even though Steve won’t see it.
“Yup, I’m good. I’m just going to head back to my lab now, so you can come out!”
He hears the door open behind him as he gets into the elevator, and he turns to see Steve standing in the hall, looking after him. He waves once, and Steve waves back, looking oddly lonely standing there by himself as the elevator shuts closed.
The fifth time Tony comes back from wherever the hell he goes during one of his episodes, his lips are wet and tingling, and Steve’s standing in between him and Clint with a hand on both their chests.
“What? I was curious what all the rumors were about,” Clint says. He smiles unapologetically, and Steve makes a noise that kind of sounds like a bull before it’s about it charge.
Tony doesn’t actually mind that he’d apparently been making out with Clint. Clint’s easy on the eyes, and Tony imagines—not that he’s imagined imagined this, but you know, whatever—he’d probably be wild in the sack.
He thinks it’s kind of hilarious how much Steve minds though, continuing to stand in front of Tony as if he’s protecting his virtue, lecturing Clint on respect and what’s appropriate and so on and so forth until Clint looks suitably chastened.
It obviously doesn’t take, because as soon as Steve’s back is turned, Clint winks at Tony, completely over-the-top, and puts his hand to his ear in, mouthing “call me.” Tony laughs, causing Steve to look around and catch Clint in the act, and he drags Tony away, muttering to himself the whole time, too low for even Tony to catch.
From then on, Steve pretty much glues himself to Tony’s side.
Ever since the initial tests, Tony’s been confined to the Tower. It’s one of the worst things about the whole ordeal, because as soon as someone tells him not to do something, he can’t help but want to do it, and he gets antsy knowing he’s following orders. Someone’s always around to distract him, however, frequently a few someones, and even Pepper and Rhodey come by to take turns. Tony bitches that he doesn’t need a babysitter, but he likes it anyway.
Now, however, there’s Steve, eating when Tony eats, working out when Tony works out, keeping him company in the lab and sleeping in Tony’s guest room—“What do you mean you’re redecorating your entire floor? Pepper is going to be so mad at you.”—and it doesn’t matter if anyone else is nearby, because there’s Steve standing that much closer.
As a result, when Tony comes to the sixth and seventh time, he’s sitting next to Steve, and wonders of wonders, they’re cuddling—just cuddling—and he’s holding Steve’s hand and feeling like there’s nowhere else he’d rather be.
The blackouts stop as abruptly as they'd started, so the eighth, ninth and tenth times don’t actually happen. He doesn’t tell Steve that, though, until after the fact. Steve stares at him for a bit and then shakes his head, laughing, before kissing him again.