"A hundred places to hide in this city, and we end up in the one shithole that doesn't have electricity," Tony grumbles.
Steve just shrugs, ever the pragmatist. "We'll make do."
Tony turns on the tap. The pipes rumble ominously, then begin to rattle. The faucet coughs, and a thin trickle of rust-brown water appears. He tests it gingerly with one finger and is not at all surprised to discover that it is ice-cold.
"Wonderful," he sighs. He glances up in time to see Steve look down in order to hide a smile.
"Hey," he says, pointing in accusation. "Might I remind you, this was your idea. Not mine. I wanted to find the Crimson Dynamo and just beat the shit out of him and take my tech back."
"I know," Steve says. "I just think that sometimes—"
"—a surprise attack is better than an outright assault," Tony finishes with him. "I know. I heard you on the helicarrier. And in the Tower. And on the Quinjet. You've made your point. Several times, in fact."
Steve just gazes at him, so perfectly innocent that it's hard to remember sometimes what a sneaky bastard he can be.
Tony shuts the water off and wipes his hand on his jeans. "So here we are. Somewhere in Russia. In winter. With no electricity. You realize this is going to be a problem."
"I don't see how," Steve says, again with the earnest innocence. This time, though, he has a much harder time keeping a straight face, and suddenly Tony wants to kiss him. Very badly. "We packed warm clothes," Steve continues. "And I speak from experience when I say that body heat is the best way to keep warm anyway."
"Experience, huh?" Tony says with a suggestive wink. "I bet you didn't put that on your resume."
"I'm Captain America," Steve says simply. "I don't need a resume."
"Right," Tony says dubiously, because it's finally starting to sink in, just where he is. He takes a look around at the apartment. It's small, just a single room that's divided into a living area with a sagging couch and an old TV that probably doesn't even have color, and a kitchen with a cracked counter and the sink that doesn't want to work. Down the hall there is an even tinier bathroom, and a bedroom that smells like mold. Most of the glass is missing from the window in there, naturally. Because Russia.
There's no JARVIS here. No Pepper. No computers. No electricity.
He is well and truly fucked.
He sighs. "Remind me never to listen to you."
"I'll get right on that," Steve says dryly.
"You know what else you should get right on? Dinner," Tony says. "I'm hungry. We should do dinner."
"I should get on it?" Steve says, one perfect blond eyebrow raised.
"Yes," Tony says imperiously. It's his I-am-Tony-Stark-and-you-will-love-me voice. "Obviously I can't go out there because we're not even supposed to be here. It's why we took the super stealthy Quinjet, remember? Part of the whole surprise attack thing? You do remember harping on that for a whole week, right?"
Steve gives him the look that he's come to know as meaning: Tony, do yourself a favor and shut up.
So of course he keeps going. "And after all, I can't help it that I've got one of the most recognizable faces in the world. Just think what would happen if some random Russian babushka were to see me walking down the street. We'd make headlines. We kiss our surprise attack good-bye, off flies the Crimson Dynamo – taking my tech with him, I might add – and this has all been for nothing. So yeah. You should get on it. Dinner, that is. We can discuss other things for you to get on later." He grins.
"You should look into a disguise," Steve says as he buttons up his coat.
"Oh, I have disguises," Tony assures him. "But most of them don't bring out the color in my eyes."
"I'll be back," Steve says.
"I'll keep the home fires burning," Tony promises as Steve goes out. The door almost shuts, gets stuck, and then finally closes flush against the jamb after Steve shoves on it from the other side.
Tony turns to survey the cold, forlorn room. "Somehow," he mutters.
Steve is gone almost forty minutes. Just long enough for Tony to get antsy. It's still fairly early yet – not even five o'clock – but already it's almost dark out. The pathetic apartment is lit by a couple battery-powered lamps. They do an admirable job of lighting the immediate area, but the rest of the room is thrown into dark shadow that only adds to the overall gloomy atmosphere.
He's only been here two hours and already Tony is sick of Russia.
A thunk against the door heralds Steve's return. The door bows inward a little, then finally consents to scrape open. Steve staggers in, carrying a large plastic bag in both hands. His hair is wet, and so are the shoulders of his coat. Apparently it's started snowing.
Steve kicks the door shut behind him; it takes two tries to get it to close all the way. The contents of the bag shift a little and he stops to steady it. "I think one of the containers is leaking."
"Of course it is," Tony says. Because why wouldn't it be?
Steve carries the bag into the tiny kitchen and begins setting the items out on the counter. None of it looks familiar, but Tony is hungry enough to not care. His knowledge of Russian cuisine pretty much begins and ends with caviar.
From the looks of it, Steve must have bought out an entire restaurant. There are four kinds of soup (and yes, one of the containers did leak). Three types of meat in unidentified sauces. Some potato things that smell really good but taste vile. There's a lot of vegetables, a lot of mayonnaise. No dessert. Tony dutifully tries all the dishes, but he's not fond of most of them.
He takes consolation in the fact that they won't be here long. A day, two at most. They know where the Crimson Dynamo is supposed to be tomorrow. They hit him hard, take him down, take the Starktech he stole, and they're outta here. Wham bam thank you ma'am. Nobody knows they were here, an international incident is avoided, Tony gets his tech back, everyone is happy. Well, except the Crimson Dynamo, but it's not like he counts.
By the time they're done eating, it's downright cold in the apartment. Steve gathers up the leftovers and the containers and stuffs it all back into the plastic bag it came from. As he works on the clean-up, Tony takes one of the lamps and braves the frigid hallway to the bedroom. He starts shivering almost immediately; the shadows jump and dance on the walls as his hand holding the lamp shakes.
"Never again," he mutters to himself as he paws through their luggage. "Never, ever again."
He returns to the living room with the thermal blanket draped over his shoulder. Steve is sitting on the couch, looking up expectantly.
"No," Tony says. "No way." He points at the floor. "There."
Steve looks puzzled. He doesn't move until Tony himself sits on the floor in front of the couch, then he lowers himself to the floor and sits beside him. "Why aren't we sitting on the couch?"
"Have you taken a good look at that thing?" Tony says. He spread the thermal blanket out. The crackling noise of the foil is annoying as hell, but he can live with that, he decides. Just as long as it keeps him warm. "I'm pretty sure those stains are older than me. Possibly even older than you."
"Good point," Steve says. He scoots closer to Tony, so they are pressed together from shoulder to hip.
"It's cold in here," Tony says, completely unnecessarily.
"Yes, it is," Steve says.
"I hate the cold," Tony says.
"So do I," Steve says.
"I'm blaming you for this," Tony says. "Just so you know."
"That's okay," Steve says. "Because I'm blaming you."
"Okay," Tony says agreeably.
"Okay," Steve says.
They sit together beneath the blanket. Steve snakes an arm about Tony's waist. Tony shifts sideways just far enough that he can drop his head onto Steve's shoulder without straining anything in his neck.
"Do you want to talk strategy?" Steve asks.
"Nope," Tony says.
Steve's shoulder moves a little beneath his head as he laughs. "Not even a little?"
It seems pretty clear to him what's going to happen tomorrow. "Beyond the obvious repulsor blast to the face? What's there to strategize about?"
"Truly you are a master at this," Steve says.
"That's what they tell me," Tony says. He turns a little and plants his chin on Steve's shoulder. This gives him a great view of Steve's neck. Which is just a great view, period. Steve has a very fine neck. He could stare at it all day.
"We need to be up early," Steve says, "if we expect to reach the bunker before him."
"I'll leave that in your capable hands," he says. When he talks, his chin digs into Steve's shoulder. It's not the most comfortable pose, and it's probably even less comfortable for Steve, but he's too lazy to move. Besides, he really likes looking at Steve's neck. Especially now, when he's trying to decide which patch of skin he's going to kiss first.
"Doesn't your watch have an alarm?" Steve asks.
"It might," Tony says. He could care less about his watch right now. "It's got a lot of things. Look at me."
Steve turns his head.
Tony kisses him. He sits up straight so they're on more of a level, and looks at Steve.
He's not cold anymore.
"Wait," Steve says. He reaches for the nearest lamp. "Put them out."
"You're about three months too late for modesty," Tony reminds him.
"There's no curtains," Steve says. His lamp goes out. He gestures to the window. "I don't want anyone looking in."
"Hey, we might be the best entertainment this neighborhood has seen in months," Tony says. "Are you really going to deprive them of that?"
"Yes," Steve says, "I am. Especially since we aren't supposed to be here at all."
"Oh, well then." Tony turns off his lamp. Now the only light in the room is dim and faintly blue, filtered through the dirty living room window. "Better?"
"Better," Steve says. He leans in, and then he's kissing Tony.
"Yeah," Tony says as Steve kisses and nibbles at his jaw and down his throat. "That's." Steve nips at his collarbone, and he hisses in a sharp breath. "God. Much better."
Steve does not say anything. His mouth is otherwise occupied.
Tony twines his fingers in Steve's hair. "I still blame you for this."
"Mmm-hmm," Steve murmurs. His fingers deftly undo the top two buttons of Tony's shirt. Blue light spills into the room, brighter than that from the street, and far less cold.
"Just so we're on the same page," Tony says. He gasps as Steve kisses his chest just above the arc reactor.
"You talk too much," Steve whispers. His tongue encircles the rim of the arc reactor, laving both metal and skin alike, and Tony finally loses his ability to make words.
It's all good, though.
He wakes up in the dead of night. It's freezing cold in the room; in the pale blue light he can see his breath. Outside the window, the stars are falling from the sky.
Bemused, he blinks. Looks again.
Oh. It's just snow.
Steve is curled up on his side. Most of his body is beneath the thermal blanket, except for his socked feet, which stick out. A thick lock of hair falls onto his forehead, making him look like he's five years old. His breath is slow and rhythmic with deep sleep.
It's hard to move and not make too much noise, thanks to the dumb blanket. Tony manages it though. He pulls it down a little, just enough to cover Steve's feet, then he dives back beneath it. He's already shivering just from that small exposure to the chilly air.
Steve is warm and cozy, though. Tony presses in close, fitting himself into the curves and planes of Steve's body as best he can.
The floor is hard and uncomfortable beneath him. It's incredibly cold. Outside in the street, strange electronic noises sound from time to time, like one bizarre life form signaling to another. The snow continues to come down.
Steve makes a sleepy mumble and snuggles closer to him. The lock of hair on his forehead falls down a little further, coming dangerously close to poking him in the eye.
Tony can't resist. Gently he pushes it aside, his fingertips barely skimming Steve's skin.
Tony smiles a little. All things considered, maybe Russia isn't so bad after all.