Two Gray Days
Tony was having his morning coffee – and it was actually morning by everyone’s standards for once – when JARVIS brought the news to his attention:
“Sir, there seems to be a disturbance out in a field in Iowa.”
“What kind of disturbance? Did a UFO finally land?” Tony asked, sipping his coffee and raising an eyebrow in thought. As he did that, Steve Rogers came in, fresh from the gym by the look of it, searching for a bite. Tony followed him with his eyes, appreciating the view.
“The calculations are underway but there is a possibility of a multi-dimensional portal,” JARVIS interrupted his subtle appreciation of the super-soldier’s physique.
Steve froze at the words, halting to listen, food forgotten for now.
“Where was this again?” Tony asked, already up from his seat, coffee forgotten.
“A corn field. In Iowa,” Tony stated needlessly as they stood waist-deep in said corn, in Iowa. There was nothing but the gently swaying cornstalks – and in the middle of it a camp of S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. personnel, their tech surrounding a strange glowing circle which may or may not be a portal to another universe, dimension or planet.
He looked around again, just as unimpressed as he was when he landed. “They couldn’t find a better spot?,” Tony complained, his Iron Man armor looking a bit awkward in the middle of the current setting.
“Aren’t you glad this didn’t take place in Midtown Manhattan?” Steve asked as he walked over, now in full Captain America regalia. It seemed just minutes ago that he had been dripping with sweat, clothes clinging to his body, a healthy flush barely touching his skin in the aftermath of a work-out that would have probably floored Tony during the warm-up.
“Commute would have been shorter,” Tony joked, peering at the supposed doorway to another universe. “Where’s Richards when you need him? Or Pym? Or even Thor?”
Well, Richards and the Fantastic Four were off in some other dimension – again – while Pym was with the Black Panther in Wakanda. Thor was back in Asgard, taking care of some family matters – although when wasn’t he?
As for the rest of the Avengers, Jan had gone with Pym, Hawkeye was on some S.H.I.E.L.D. mission somewhere and the Hulk had taken off after the last battle, stating he needed some time off. Considering he was under house arrest most of the time, Tony had grudgingly allowed him to go. That left Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel, who apparently was on her way but under orders from S.W.O.R.D. – and Vision, who was currently trying to get a read on the portal.
“The analysis is inconclusive,” the android finally stated, glowing eyes narrowed. “Most certainly this is a gateway to another place and it is consistently emitting a strange energy. However, it doesn’t seem threatening for the time being.”
“We could shoot something at it,” Tony offered. “See if that changes.”
“Don’t,” Steve ordered. “There could be friendlies.”
“Yeah, because bad guys only park their wormholes in the middle of New York City,” Tony shot back but relented since he really wasn’t going to shoot anything at that portal before he knew what was on the other side.
Whatever it was, it didn’t do anything for the next three days. Far as Tony was concerned, wormholes shouldn’t just appear in the middle of a field and then do nothing. He was half-tempted to throw rocks at it to pass the time. If he did, perhaps whatever was going to happen would happen faster and he could get out of the suit that was getting a bit stifling after a day in the sun – not to mention three.
After said three days he decided to get out of the armor and put it back on only when something was about to happen and not a minute earlier. That, of course, left him lying around in his dark undersuit, which wasn’t much better but he wasn’t going to complain.
He was currently lounging under a makeshift shelter, drinking from a cooled bottle of water – what he wouldn’t have given for some iced tea right now – when the scientists began to bustle around like a colony of ants. Tony watched for a moment, wondering if something was really happening or if it was simply another false alarm, then noticed the glowing circle was almost… pulsating, although faintly.
Deciding it was about time, Tony started to get up to slip into the armor, which would be a bit of a pain manually. He had known that when taking the armor off – also a pain, because that’s not how he had meant it to be taken off, either – but it was a discomfort he had to endure to get himself a few hours free of the constricting, hot metal cocoon.
Before he could actually get to the armor, however, the portal changed its color, a kind of a hum filled the air around it and something stepped through. People moved away cautiously while others shifted towards it, prepared for anything they could imagine.
The alien creature was quite anthropomorphic: four limbs, a green-tinted yet ashen skin which looked more like leather, and strange eyes. Not a Skrull, which was a bit of a relief. It was dressed in a hooded robe and regarded them slowly and thoroughly, as if this were an evaluation.
“You have arrived to Earth through unknown means,” one of the S.W.O.R.D. agents started. “Please state your reason for being here and your intentions.”
Tony grimaced. They should really work on their welcoming-aliens-speech.
The hooded creature regarded them a bit longer. Perhaps it didn’t understand a word they were saying.
“No available database has anything to match this life-form,” Vision offered his input as the silence stretched on.
“Do you represent the human race of the planet called Earth?” the alien said at last, in perfectly understandable English.
“Represent?” Steve frowned, shield shifting slightly. He was standing on the inside of the circle of people, first to meet the threat, as always. “What are your intentions here?”
“I am here at the bidding of my Master. He is much interested in the human race and wishes to… sample you.”
“Sample?” Tony copied Steve’s expression, stepping forward to join him on the front line. This alien didn’t look threatening, although looks could be deceiving, and he doubted he would have time to suit up should something go amiss, even if he started now.
The strange, dotted eyes regarded him. They blinked, too, and it looked like four eyelids swept over the surface at once. “Yes. My Master is a… collector.”
“So he’s here to do what, add a few humans to his collection?” Carol Danvers asked, stepping forward.
“He will not harm you,” the creature reassured. “He is simply… collecting samples.”
“I’m not sure we understand ‘not harming’ in a similar fashion, and until we do, your ‘Master’ needs to explain himself a bit better,” Steve decided in his usual clipped tones.
“Would you wish to meet him?” the alien suggested. “You seem like a fine example of the human race.”
Tony snorted, he couldn’t help it.
Steve glanced back at him over his shoulder. “Tony, stay here and try to gain more information.”
“What, you’re going to follow Mr. Double Eyelids through a wormhole and leave me standing here?”
“Without the suit you’ll be vulnerable to whatever is on the other side.”
“So I’ll go and put it on.”
“We might not have time –”
“Then make time! Talk about the weather,” Tony argued, stepping closer to the other man who was almost a head taller than him. “Besides, he said he won’t harm us and I don’t see him toting any huge weapons –”
They didn’t get any farther than that, however, before the air seemed to tremble, which was a strange sensation, then suddenly the vertical circle seemed to expand, swallowing them and the bright day turned into dimness.
“Hey!” Tony snapped, whirling around to check his surroundings. “What’s going on?”
“My Master wishes to –” the alien started.
“We didn’t agree to anything yet,” Steve cut it off, lifting his shield higher, looking around, one arm reaching to pull Tony closer to him as if there were some sort of danger lurking about.
Far as Tony could see, everything had disappeared around them – the field, S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D. agents, even Ms. Marvel and Vision who had been standing right there. It was just the two of them, the alien, and the dark, strange space around them which didn’t seem to have walls or a ceiling but still felt enclosed.
The alien twisted its hands – strange, long-fingered hands. “I must do as he commands. My Master has waited long enough.”
“As if we didn’t just wait three days in that field for him to send his ambassador over,” Tony muttered.
Something seemed to materialize from the grayish space. It was like a large tank with something floating inside it, looking like wisps of smoke – or a very strange face of goo, floating and stretching almost like a bad imitation of a lava lamp.
Tony grimaced. “Please don’t tell me that’s your Master.” They really should have a talk with Thor about all the strange creatures the vastness of outer space held.
The alien bowed and backed away into the grayness, disappearing.
“Hey, wait!” Steve called out then growled unhappily as no reply came in return. “What now?”
Tony looked around again, unnerved by the gooey thing in the tank. He suddenly felt a whisper of something along his calf and looked down but could see nothing. It felt like his eyes weren’t working properly here, wherever ‘here’ was, unable to pierce the dank grayness all around them. He felt the touch again and glanced down, turning, trying to see anything at all. “I don’t like this,” he said.
“I told you not to come,” Steve reminded him.
“How am I to blame for being dragged along? There wasn’t a line someone was supposed to cross for a free trip to another dimension,” Tony snapped back, then there was no mistake: something wrapped itself around his calf, working its way up around his knee and thigh. He reached down to grab it this time, in case looking at it would make it go away, and sure enough, his fingers encountered something round and long, a little bit elastic, kind of damp on the surface without being slick or wet.
Daring to look at it now he frowned at the tentacle-like thing. Well, he was relieved it wasn’t a snake, and it didn’t seem to have a mouth to bite with anyway. “Cap,” he called out to the other Avenger, “any guesses on what this is?”
Steve turned to look, Tony could sense it without turning his head; he focused on the tentacle, in case it vanished should he let his attention slip away from it.
“Why is it wrapped around your leg like that?” Steve asked.
“Maybe this is about getting the sample?” Steve pondered.
“I always hated going to the doctor,” Tony joked. Steve came closer and tapped the thing with the edge of his shield, making it tighten significantly, which made Tony hiss. “Okay, don’t do that. It’s killing my circulation.”
Steve pulled back and looked over his shoulder; clearly he had also noticed the tank with the gooey face sitting inside. He seemed to be trying to figure out the situation, hopefully coming up with a plan that would get them both home.
While waiting for inspiration to strike, Tony felt another familiar touch inching along his free leg. He glanced down just in time to see another tentacle-like thing, working its way up yet not wrapping around him this time, just rising higher. Steve started looking around the gray ground, as if to see where they were coming from. In the meanwhile the second tentacle had lifted itself to the level of Tony’s eyes, as if watching him. Its tip was slightly more pointed than the rest of it and Tony leaned closer, noting that its surface was like skin, with pores in it. Holes which released the slight dampness on its surface, he observed.
“I think they might be alive,” Tony started commenting when suddenly the tentacle surged forward, taking him totally by surprise, managing to slip between his lips and into his mouth. His hands shot up to seize it and pull it back, his throat constricting at the sudden invasion. He managed to pull it out and hold it at arm’s length, resisting the urge to spit out the alien taste. The tentacle stayed still in Tony’s grip, as if regarding him again. Tony glared back at it. “Not okay,” he muttered. “At least ask first before invading a man’s personal space.”
“This isn’t funny,” Steve commented, his face even more wary and alert.
“Do I look like I think it’s funny?” Tony snapped at him, turning his eyes from the offending tentacle for a moment – which gave said thing an opening and it suddenly yanked itself free, winding closer, wrapping twice around Tony’s neck before he even knew what it was doing. With the air almost completely cut off from his lungs, Tony’s body seized then crashed down as the first tentacle decided to pull at the same second and yank him to the ground.
“Tony!” Steve called out and Tony wondered what the hell he was waiting for – until he managed to look up and saw several more tentacles springing out at the other Avenger. Steve fought furiously for a moment but there were just too many and eventually he was pulled off to the side, restrained in a firm grip, dangling in the air helplessly. Two free tentacles tugged and pulled until his shield fell from his grasp, lying on the ground where the tentacles briefly poked at it before leaving it alone. Steve still refused to give up, struggling, yet his super-soldier body was unable to break the hold of the tentacles, seeing as they gave just enough for him to be unable to find any purchase.
This wasn’t going well at all, Tony decided. The tentacle around his neck was letting him breathe again, yet it squeezed with enough force to let him know that struggling would become uncomfortable for him if he chose to do it.
Quite suddenly the alien in robes was back. “My Master has accepted you,” it announced.
“Accepted?” Tony managed to gasp.
The alien nodded. “It is a great honor. He has sampled many different species from around the existing worlds.”
This one didn’t sound any better than the earlier statements. Tony watched the alien carefully as it stepped over to Steve, who struggled anew, then froze as the long fingers traced down along his chest and stomach. They found what they were looking for, apparently, undoing the suit and tugging it open, leaving him bare from neck to groin.
Tony attempted to struggle, kicking and trying to find a weak spot in the tentacles, or a way to incapacitate them. As he did that, he didn’t notice the alien approaching him until he felt the long fingers on his person. He tried jerking away as they found the zipper, starting to tug his undersuit open.
“It will hurt more if you resist,” the alien noted.
“I thought you said no one would be harmed!” Steve roared from the side. “Let him go.”
Tony felt like pointing out they were both neck deep in this one, but before he could the tentacles twitched, as if communicating, and the alien removed its hand and backed away, disappearing again. Tony panted, not quite comfortable with this turn of events. The undersuit lay half open and exposed most of his chest to the strange cool air. Well, at least he was mostly covered, the same of which couldn’t be said for Steve.
The tentacle around Tony’s neck began moving suddenly and he hoped Steve had finally made his point and they would be released. Instead of letting him go, however, the tentacle wrapped itself further around his face, a slight drag brushing against his face as it coiled once around his jaw, below his ears, then curved around again just beneath his nose – effectively blocking his mouth – then did a final circle and covered his eyes.
Tony could admit he was panicking a little right now. He reached up, to try and fight it, to pull it off. He might have considered biting the tentacle but it wasn’t letting him open his mouth and had stayed a safe distance from his teeth. Before he could get a good grip, though, he felt something wrap around each of his wrists and pull them away, then another reached for his free leg.
A whisper of cool, wet flesh moved suddenly against him and trailed across the exposed skin, moving up and down, skirting the arc reactor in his chest. That sensation – and the brief, crippling panic that came with it – made his breath catch, yet luckily the tentacle didn’t seem interested in the device that kept him alive.
He was pulled harshly from his brief stupor of relief as what had to be several tentacles slid beneath the suit, tugged at the clothing, trailed along his skin and made him break out in goose bumps.
One tentacle headed south, touching his cock and making him jump at the foreign sensation. It lingered, shifting back and forth, nudging his balls, making a small spike of pleasure travel up Tony’s spine. Blood thrummed in his ears, blocking out the outside world. It was as if he were completely alone with the tentacles; if Steve was still there, he couldn’t tell.
Another tentacle pushed down to his groin, joining the first, causing Tony to try and struggle, to close his legs when they were yanked further apart and he felt like he was floating, no part of his body resting on the ground anymore. The second tentacle moved further south from its slippery friend, and Tony’s entire body froze as it skirted his ass, prodding at the entrance, testing the resistance.
If this went anything like some of that porn Tony may or may have not watched when he was a teenager, he knew what was coming. Only it was usually a big-titted whimpering female trapped by a tentacle monster, not a guy who might just be getting off on this in some small corner of his brain – although it was a very small, and very distant corner, even when the tip of the tentacle attempted to push into him, with very little finesse.
The tentacle retreated, sliding across his crack, then suddenly Tony felt wetness against his skin, as if the whole thing were turning slicker. The tentacle tried again, this time worming its way into his body with less resistance and there was no way he could keep it out, to fight, to resist. Tony could have let his mind scream bloody murder but it wouldn’t have gotten him anywhere.
Waiting it out was the only thing he could do, although it didn’t suit him very well and he tried struggling again, to perhaps catch one of the tentacles off guard and wriggle his way free.
It didn’t work. The tentacle kept pushing further inside him, delving almost uncomfortably deep and Tony knew it had been a while, which meant this would hurt later. If there came a ‘later’… He wondered if Steve was okay or if the other man was enduring the same treatment, laid out like a buffet.
The tentacle twisted inside him, making him arch his body and groan – then jerk and moan for another reason as it managed to press against his prostate firmly. Distantly he felt another tentacle moving south, dragging against his cock and balls before heading down, further down, spreading slickness as if having learned from the last time and God, it was pressing in next to the first one.
Tony tensed with pain, trying to breathe, knowing he couldn’t just make it stop even if he wanted to and tension was just going to make it hurt more…
He almost screamed at the sensation of the second tentacle pressing in, pushing firmly against his inner walls, spreading him wide, dragging against his prostate, making stars explode beneath his eyelids. The tentacles twisted, turning and moving, forcing him to open further, burrowing deeper, jerking back and forth.
Tony was close, he could feel it. Unwanted arousal coursed across his body and he arched his back, wanting it to be over. He wanted to believe it would end then, that whatever held them captive would be satisfied.
The tentacles on his face shifted, allowing him to move his jaw, to take an extra deep breath of air. The freedom was short-lived however, because he promptly felt another tentacle slip between his lips and almost past comfort into his throat, wide and firm enough to keep him from biting down and swallowing his cry of bliss as one of the tentacles in his ass shifted roughly against his prostate and sent him into one of the craziest orgasms of his life, which made him black out completely.
The realization of what was going to happen slammed Steve in the gut as the tentacles began to twine around Tony’s body. At first he could pretend it was something else, a mere exploration of body and physique, but he could see the tiny hints in the way Tony moved, arched and shifted in the hold the tentacles had on him, holding him just slightly above the ground.
Tony wasn’t exposed enough for Steve to see it all in detail but he knew what was happening.
He looked away, not wanting to watch.
Just then there was the sensation that something was slithering up his side and to his face, a tentacle approaching and wrapping around his head. He expected his vision to be blocked, to be bound like Tony had been, but instead the tentacle merely forced him to turn his head, to keep watching. A few others slid across his body, making him shudder in revulsion yet when they reached his groin and one of them wrapped around his cock, he felt a small tremor of arousal.
Steve could easily pretend it was a response to a throaty moan from Tony. He thought it was infinitely better than a cry of pain or terror.
The tentacles continued mapping out his body, intruding and touching where he hadn’t invited anyone for a very long time; tugging on his balls, trailing back to briefly run across the crease of his ass then returning to the front. One of them kept a steady hold on his now hardened flesh and while he knew he could just close his eyes and refuse to watch this, he reasoned he wanted to make sure Tony didn’t just disappear into the strange grayness around them.
His entire body jerked when the tentacles opened Tony’s mouth and the one around his head – the one that had surged in before – pressed into the open orifice. Steve shouldn’t have felt anything other than compassion, perhaps, but then Tony’s entire body jerked and he let out a muffled sound, his entire form shuddering and the tentacle pulled back from his mouth, unwrapping itself while his body was gently lowered to the ground.
Tony lay there, unmoving save for the rise and fall of his chest. His hair was messed up and he looked disheveled and worn out. Steve swallowed then noticed that the two tentacles that had slipped inside his black and blue undersuit were still there, jerking slightly. Still inside him, his brain supplied.
Steve swallowed again, trying to regain some self-control. The tentacle that was touching him was relentless, however, not allowing him to back down from the edge of pleasure. It had wrapped around his length, shifting and pulsing, an intense and strange touch that almost hurt.
On the ground, Tony groaned faintly, shifting, then opened his eyes, blinking a few times and then moved his head, brown eyes finding Steve’s blue ones before following his form lower along his body.
A brief burn of shame traveled through Steve yet he could do nothing to hide himself – to hide his pleasure. However, Tony wouldn’t know what it was from… He met the brown eyes again, wondering if he had ever seen Tony look so open, so vulnerable. His body shook slightly on the floor, the two tentacles still moving around, bringing a broken moan from his throat.
Steve groaned and felt his release hit him, erupting from his cock. He breathed heavily for a moment, feeling the rush, then focused his mind and looked at Tony, wondering if this had made it better or worse.
Suddenly the tentacles moved to withdraw from Tony’s prone form, sliding free of his body and clothes, disappearing out of sight. Tony didn’t move so Steve stumbled over to him, stopping only to pick up his shield, laying it next to the other man.
“Do you think it’s over?” Tony asked, voice a little rough.
“Looks like it,” Steve said hopefully then fastened his clothes, feeling strange and dirty even afterwards, as if he wasn’t clothed at all.
Tony just blinked up at him for a moment before rolling over and attempting to get up. Steve reached out, taking his arm, steadying him. Tony made it to his knees and half-managed to hide a grimace. His hands shook slightly as he did up his own clothes, watching the grayness warily.
Steve pulled the shield up, sliding it on his arm, holding it in front of them as if it would help this time. His left arm he placed around Tony’s shoulders, not even thinking about it. For a brief moment he felt Tony lean against him, just slightly, perhaps seeking comfort or strength, or just resting.
And just like that they were back in the middle of the corn field, in bright daylight, the portal shrinking in front of them until it was gone. People stood around them, looking alarmed – amongst them all of the Avengers save for Thor.
“Guys?” Jan called out, running across the short distance.
“What happened?” Tony asked, sounding almost normal.
“You disappeared, just like that. It’s been two days,” Carol explained as everyone gathered up, a frown on her face. “You don’t look… okay.”
“We’re fine. Just a little…” Tony didn’t clarify.
“What happened? What did they want?” a S.W.O.R.D. agent questioned, pushing through the line of superheroes.
“I’m not sure I know,” Steve confessed then stood up, pulling Tony along with him. “Right now I just want a shower and my own bed.”
“Ditto,” Tony agreed.
After going home to the Avengers Mansion, Tony took off the armor and headed to his room, not talking to anyone. He stripped, not stopping to consider where he threw his clothing or the fact that he was going to incinerate that undersuit as soon as he felt human again.
He stopped in the bathroom, unwillingly looking at the mirror, seeing faint bruises on his body; some on his neck, his jaw, but nothing too bad; nothing to cause alarm in the other Avengers than he couldn’t handle with a shrug. On his wrists and legs the marks were darker where the grip had been the hardest while he struggled, but those were easily hidden by clothing.
Unwilling to think about it and to sink it far away into the depths of his mind, Tony resolutely stepped into the shower. Under the blissfully hot spray of water, he reached for some soap, choosing one with a pleasing smell, wanting to wash away every last trace that might be left, visible or invisible. However, as the lather covered his skin and he should have felt some kind of soothing effect, he simply wondered if he would ever feel clean again. It wasn’t even a matter of being physically tainted. No matter how many hours he spent here, scrubbing himself clean, it wouldn’t fix the problem itself.
Tony slid down to sit on the shower floor, jaw flexing restlessly, then he hugged his knees and pretended it would all get better if he just waited it out. He had been through worse, no one had actually died today – or in the last two days – and it shouldn’t be such a big deal. As long as he buried the memory and no one brought it up, he would be fine.
What would anyone do, anyway, to help him? Tony was the one with the answers, and in time he would find the key to how to deal with this.
Two days… It hadn’t felt like two days.
Steve had thought about that as they flew back towards New York City and he continued thinking about it as he climbed out of the Quinjet and headed towards his room. Tony hadn’t been forthcoming about any details of their disappearance and Steve took that as a sign that they wouldn’t tell the others, at least not yet.
He was fine with that.
However, it was safe to divulge a smidgen of information, such as that their stay on the ‘gray side’, as they called it for the time being, hadn’t seemed all that long.
“Perhaps time moved differently there, or the portal just took you to a half-way point between two spaces,” Hank Pym theorized. He sounded way too excited about it.
Tony had disappeared as soon as was possible, without a word. No one seemed surprised by this but the team ganged up on Steve with questions as they walked the wide halls.
“You can’t just not tell us what happened on the other side,” Carol insisted. She sounded concerned now that S.W.O.R.D. agents weren’t around them; she could be worried as a fellow Avenger, not as a member of the Sentient World Observation and Response Department.
“Yeah,” Clint agreed. “Was it so horrible you’re both too scared to talk about it?”
“We’re both alive, which should be enough for all of you. We’ll talk about it if we feel the need,” Steve snapped. He was tiring of the company of others and they sensed it, allowing him to take the next turn and head to his room.
After throwing his shield on the bed he stripped out of the uniform, giving it a long look before leaving it on the floor and heading towards the bathroom. He stepped into the shower cabin without delays or side-trips. As he started the water, he imagined the last of the unseen marks vanishing from his skin. He palmed a bar of soap, beginning to wash his body methodically, yet found himself stopping as his hand reached his stomach.
The memory of a touch not his own was vivid in his mind and he grasped himself just to throw back the phantom sensation. The gray space was gone. There was no one here but him.
Steve looked down at himself, recognizing his hand holding his cock, familiar and something he could control. That was the problem, however; it was too familiar. He wondered if Tony felt the same, that he couldn’t distance himself enough to find actual purchase against the fresh memory of being used against his will.
With an unhappy frown Steve proceeded to wash himself, toweling off hastily then throwing on a t-shirt and sweatpants. He went to his door, listened behind it for a good two minutes then opened it carefully, soundlessly, and made his way down the hall he hoped was empty. Many of the Avengers moved about silently and while most of them might just ignore him, he didn’t want to risk it. He took the back stairs up and entered another hallway, selecting a door he knew led to Tony’s room.
He knocked softly, waiting and listening. There was no sound from the inside. Perhaps Tony wasn’t in his room; he could have gone downstairs to work on his suit, or just work out, although those options might put him in the same space with other people and he clearly had wanted some time alone. Perhaps he had left entirely, going back to the Stark Tower.
Needing to make sure, just in case Tony was in his room and just refusing to answer, Steve tried the handle. The door opened and he pushed it open further, peering inside. He could hear the shower, faint through the bathroom door, and he stepped inside, closing the door behind him and locking it. He didn’t know what exactly compelled him to do that, to enter Tony’s space without an invitation, but he walked over to the door of the bathroom and knocked again.
“Tony, it’s me,” he called out, knowing the other man might ignore him otherwise.
There was no reply but the shower was still running steadily.
Steve pulled the door open and stepped inside. The air was humid and warm, a bit foggy, briefly reminding him of the gray side but the lights were bright and he could make out every piece of furniture, every object around the room. And at the far end, under the shower, sat Tony; his knees were pulled up, arms wrapped around them, head resting against the tops of his thighs.
He knew better than to say anything, to show pity or attempt to make it better; Steve knew how he would react if something had tried those things on him.
Tony lifted his head, acknowledging that he knew Steve was there. His brown eyes seemed troubled, haunted. Steve’s mind flashed back to the moment in the gray, of the other man looking at him, lying on the ground after his climax. It was as if Tony had reminded himself at that very moment that he wasn’t alone – and that Steve wasn’t either. That they hadn’t been able to help themselves or each other but they didn’t have to face it alone. It didn’t take away the twinge of shame, of the humiliation and violation of one’s being, but they didn’t have to deal with the aftermath alone. The others wouldn’t understand, not easily, but he and Tony were on the same page about what had happened, even if it had been slightly different for each of them.
Steve shuffled over, tugging off his shirt and pants, then stepped into the shower and turned so he could sit down beside Tony. Their naked bodies touched slightly, the water falling hot and steady on top of them, a cluster of small drops spreading, sliding along their skins and away, never lingering as gravity pulled them along and down the drain.
“Do you keep thinking about it?” Tony asked after a bit.
“Yeah,” Steve admitted.
They didn’t look at each other.
“Me too,” Tony went on after a while. His hands shifted, uncurling from around his legs, twisting. Steve’s eyes followed the motion, seeing bruises. Tony’s body didn’t heal as fast as his; Steve had barely any marks left to remind him – only the memories. “I keep thinking I should have fought, made a difference. That just waiting it out was…”
“It was the smart thing to do,” Steve reassured him. “A gamble, not knowing what was happening next, but… It could have been worse.”
“It could have been something else,” Tony agreed.
“Doesn’t make it easier, though,” the other man mused, letting out a half-chuckle that turned into a breathless sob, almost. “I want to forget it. All of it. To replace the memory with something… better.”
“Something you would have chosen,” Steve suggested.
Tony turned his head and looked at him. “Something like that, yeah.”
Steve looked back at him, trying to appear steady and unwavering yet it didn’t reach all the way inside. He wasn’t made of stone. The last two days… “It, whatever it was… It made me watch. I kept thinking I should look away, to close my eyes… but I thought you might disappear if I did.”
“Was that the only reason?” Tony asked, with none of his usual teasing. It was as if something inside him had been switched off, a protective barrier gone from around him and he was laid bare and raw for anyone who cared to reach towards him. Maybe that’s why he was hiding here, waiting for things to normalize.
“Yes and no,” Steve admitted. He had never been one to lie; he wasn’t going to start now.
Tony’s expression didn’t change much; he just took it in, accepting it…
“I can’t get rid of the feeling,” Steve went on. “I want it to disappear, to be gone. To replace it,” he repeated Tony’s earlier words, “with something better. With something I choose.” The shower floor was uncomfortable and he raised himself up, then offered the other man a hand and Tony took it, pulling himself up. Steve noticed even more marks on him and he remembered very well what had caused them and how.
“You would choose this?” Tony asked, not confused, not falling behind; he was a genius, capable of following Steve’s poorly crafted words.
“I’ve come to realize recently that I would,” he admitted, shifting closer. Their chests touched and he felt a brief change in texture as the arc reactor pressed into his skin. Tony was looking up at him, expectant, a shadow of fear in his eyes, yet Steve knew he wasn’t afraid of him – only the memory of something else.
It felt like they were falling into another dimension when Steve bowed his head and Tony met him in a kiss, the water still sliding over them both. Tony’s hands came up, framing his face, keeping him in place and Steve obliged; he had nowhere else to be and even if he did, it wouldn’t matter.
Tony’s lips remained closed, almost quivering. His body was tense and when Steve looked, his eyes were wide open. Realizing that, Steve reached out to turn off the water and then moved them out of the shower. Tony followed, not protesting, just watching him as if fearing that if he didn’t, Steve would turn into something else.
Steve took them to the other side of the bedroom, dripping water onto the carpet. Tony didn’t seem to notice, nor did he protest, and Steve moved closer to him again, letting their bodies touch each other. Naked skin, still wet and warm; all of it unmistakably human.
He bowed his head again and sought Tony’s lips with his, feeling like he was teasing but they had to take their time, to create the correct memories. When Tony finally parted his lips, sighing softly, Steve stopped for half a second, smiling just slightly, then pressed his advantage. His tongue teased the lips further open, slipping between them, feeling Tony’s jaw relax slightly. It took a while before Tony’s response could be felt, his tongue uncurling and meeting Steve’s briefly. He seemed to breathe easier once he did and Steve pulled back, looking at him.
Tony’s breaths were measured and deep, his eyes desperate yet cautious. Steve pushed a hand through his wet hair, earning half a smile, yet it was still missing his usual bravado. Below, it was easy to tell they were both taking at least some interest in what was happening, which was a good sign.
“Do you want to lie down?” Steve asked.
“I’ll have to, eventually,” Tony rationalized and then shifted to the side, sitting down on his bed, scooting back. He started pulling his legs up again, then seemed to realize it and forced them to relax, to straighten. He looked up at Steve as if he were waiting for something. A confirmation; that this was something they both wanted. That this was the memory they would choose.
Steve followed him onto the bed, careful as he moved further up, touching each of Tony’s legs with slow tenderness, moving them aside to allow his larger body to settle between them. Tony’s eyes were locked on his, on him, tracing his body and making Steve feel more naked than he was. “You know, we don’t have to do this now,” he reassured the other man.
“I’m not going to wait for it to get worse,” Tony said adamantly, moving his eyes back to his face. “Do you want to wait?”
“No,” Steve replied, not even thinking about it. He moved closer, knees still holding his weight. His right hand traced up Tony’s leg, from the bruised spots on his ankle and calf to his hip, which was completely unmarred. He knew he was skirting around what they both needed and slipped his hand lower, between them, past Tony’s semi-hard cock to his ass. “Does it hurt?” Steve asked, knowing Tony could interpret that in a hundred ways but he would choose only one – the right one.
“Not enough,” Tony replied, spreading his legs further then pushing himself up on his arms and reaching out with his right hand, mimicking Steve’s motions but stopping at his cock, curling his fingers around it with an almost practiced ease, making Steve’s breath catch slightly. “Tell me to stop,” Tony ordered.
“I won’t,” Steve promised. The touch was alien, yet familiar, five fingers wrapped around his length, bringing him to full erection.
He watched Tony, so different from what he was used to; a man he had learned to respect as a teammate, to listen to as a leader. They’d had their arguments, their hard times, yet all that was life before the gray side and it felt almost as if it didn’t matter right now.
Steve’s fingers pressed closer, tracing, circling with pressure. He could feel the entrance, the heat of the skin, the slight swelling. If it was causing Tony pain, he didn’t show it, and perhaps he had meant it: maybe it hadn’t hurt enough in the grey, no matter how much Tony wished it would have.
To match what both of them felt inside.
“Second drawer from the top,” Tony said suddenly and Steve glanced at the nightstand by the bed. Tony’s fingers fell away and Steve moved over, finding a tube of lubricant. If there was anything else he didn’t stop to take a look, moving back, opening the cap and coating his fingers, then slid them over his own cock, slicking it up. Tony looked apprehensive but he lay back when Steve tossed the lubricant to the side; the brown eyes were on his face as Tony reached up and pulled Steve more closely on top of him.
They didn’t talk. There were no words they were willing to exchange and Steve held himself steady as he pushed towards the ring of muscle, hearing Tony’s breaths, sharp and stuttering. For a moment Steve was about to stop, to pull back; Tony’s body didn’t yield to the pressure, shutting him out. Maybe as much as he wanted to replace the memories, his body wasn’t capable of doing it just yet.
As much as Tony had hoped it would hurt, Steve wasn’t certain if he could do it.
The resistance eventually yielded, letting the head of his cock through the pressure and into the heat of Tony’s body. The sensation was heady and Steve could have easily gotten lost in it.
Once the first couple of inches were safely locked in Tony’s body, Steve leaned forward, over the other man, then pushed his hips forward. He slid in as far as he could go, feeling the hot tightness around him. Tony’s eyes were locked on him, his face tense, one leg shifting uneasily, betraying the pain he refused to voice.
Steve steeled his mind and didn’t wait for it to get better; that wasn’t what Tony wanted. He started moving, in and out, not fast, not hurrying it. This was supposed to make up for two days of horror and although he knew it wouldn’t, it should at least ease the way.
Tony’s fingers tightened on his shoulder, sliding lower along his shoulder blade, to find something to hold onto. His nails pressed into Steve’s skin, not painful yet, skirting the edge of discomfort. Steve braced himself better, shifting his stance. His thrusts changed, in pace and in depth and it still wasn’t enough.
Locking his hips in place, Steve reached back with his right hand, catching Tony’s left thigh, pulling it upwards, lifting his hips slightly off the bed. Tony let out a small sound, caught behind his lips, wide eyes still nailed on Steve’s face, refusing to part from what was going on right now. His hands slipped, falling from Steve’s shoulders, his raised body pressed more firmly to the bed as Steve tugged Tony’s left leg up and against his side, keeping his hips elevated.
The first thrust with the slightly altered angle was good, getting him deep and scratching an itch just as Tony’s hands skirted along his chest, nails leaving marks that would be gone before long. Steve’s second thrust turned into a third and he picked up the pace slightly. Tony wasn’t quiet anymore, his breaths hard and lips parting, finally. Steve took a chance and moved to kiss him again, body moving mindlessly, burning with the strain but he couldn’t let go yet, holding onto it.
Tony’s free leg sought out purchase, lifting his hips an inch higher and his back arched, pressing their bodies together. He groaned, the sound shooting down Steve’s throat to his cock just as Tony’s body clenched around him tightly. The next few seconds or minutes were a haze. Steve was aware of moving hard, holding Tony’s body close, grinding for his release and then the numbness of his climax clouded his mind.
When he blinked again, coming back from the painful yet sweet high, Tony’s mouth was still against his, the other man’s teeth holding his lower lip. There was no taste of blood so at least one of them was in control.
Steve slowly let go, pulling back. The drag of Tony’s body against his cock as he slid out was like leaving the sunbathed outdoors and returning to the shadows inside. His hips jerked at the sensation, knowing which they preferred, but Tony’s hand slid down, resting on Steve’s groin just above his cock in a clear signal that he’d had enough.
How easily Steve could have broken that hand and sought more of what he wanted, but all he did was to move to the side, sliding his own hand over Tony’s and sort of holding it in an awkward way.
They lay there, almost side by side on the bed. Tony’s fingers twitched faintly against the top of Steve’s coarse pubic hair, Steve’s own hold gentle yet firm on his other hand. Tony’s eyes weren’t as wide anymore, as if he weren’t afraid to close them right now, but still he looked at Steve, searching his face.
Steve felt his lip throb where Tony had held onto it a moment earlier.
“We should shower,” Tony finally stated.
Steve nodded, taking a moment to gather himself. There was no guarantee what would happen afterwards, and he was happy to lie here, basking next to Tony’s body, feeling more in control than he had ever since coming out of the gray side.
Tony was the first to sit up, stopping half-way, waiting for something, then rolled over to his hands and knees before crawling to the edge of the bed. Once on his feet he seemed to get a grip of whatever discomfort was present in his body and reached back blindly, tugging on Steve’s arm. “Come on. You can wash my back,” he offered.
Steve smiled and got up after him, following the other man to the shower. When the water was raining down, Steve slid a hand over his face, forcing the weariness slightly further away before moving properly under the spray, pressing his body against Tony’s back, his face finding the juncture of neck and shoulder, arms moving around the smaller man. Tony’s body was firm and compact, something he knew from their regular work-out sessions together, but compared to a super-soldier he would always appear smaller in stature. Not weak, not frail, and yet… Steve’s hand moved up from Tony’s stomach to the arc reactor in his chest, feeling the change from skin to machine.
“Hey, soldier,” Tony snapped him out of it, “I want to sleep tonight.”
Steve obliged, moving back a few inches, reaching for the bodywash and spreading some on Tony’s back, careful whenever he encountered a bruise or a mark. He recognized which of them were his and he was certain Tony knew the difference as well. Steve didn’t linger, knowing they both were ready to fall into bed for some much-needed rest. His soapy fingers slipped down, between ass cheeks, making Tony catch his breath slightly. He didn’t reach inside, knowing better, passing over the tender flesh and then angling Tony better under the water, washing the soap away.
The bruises persisted.
He moved to wash himself while Tony worked on the rest of his body, then suddenly a hand grasped his groin and Tony had moved closer, his soapy grip washing his cock and balls with silent determination. Tony held still as water washed the suds away, fingers unmoving, eyes downcast, looking at the contact of their bodies. Steve felt a small spark of interest but he didn’t let it take over, not planning on it. His cock filled slightly anyway, making Tony adjust his grip, yet it seemed he wasn’t planning much more than this either.
“I think we’re clean,” Steve finally observed.
Tony nodded, let go of his cock and shut off the water, reaching for a towel this time. He wiped away most of the droplets on his skin and then went and found an extra towel which he offered to Steve, who took it wordlessly and rubbed himself dry. Tony was done before him, throwing the damp towel in the hamper and walking back to the bedroom. Steve heard the faint sound of a weight hitting the mattress, the shifting of covers and once he was dry he moved towards the bathroom door, picking up his discarded clothes. Steve fully intended to dress and leave, but then he noticed that Tony was lying on one side of the bed, the covers pulled back – his back was towards Steve but the invitation was clear.
Steve dropped his clothes, reached out to shut off the bathroom lights and sank onto the bed, sliding behind the other man, pulling the covers over them both. Tony didn’t move but some tension seemed to leave his body and Steve steadied his breathing, preparing himself for sleep.
Before he dozed off, he moved an arm over Tony’s body, wishing he had brought his shield with him. Not that it mattered; they were safe here.
Tony shifted, but instead of pushing him away he turned around, ending up lying closer, one leg shifting up and moving across Steve’s hip, as if locking them in place. Steve curled his arm a bit and closed his eyes, knowing Tony was already asleep beside him.
When Tony woke up it was hard to tell what the time was. Also, moving to find out would have meant removing himself from the warm, heavy weight of one Steve Rogers and he wasn’t about to compromise that.
It was hard to believe this had actually happened. Last night had been a bit of a haze, in the midst of unwanted memories and wondering if it was worse or better for Steve. He recalled sitting in the shower, moving to the bed, of Steve above him and inside him. Tony still felt his first push in, he was certain of that, and hoped he could hold onto it until the memory of their stay on the gray side vanished.
Steve was taking deep, even breaths, chest moving against Tony’s. His arm was still around Tony’s body and he wondered if Steve would get a cramp from obviously staying in one position for the entirety of the night – and whatever amount of the morning was already behind them.
Tony glanced at Steve’s face, so stern most of the time, determined when facing a battle, opening only slightly when he was Steve, not Cap. He had gotten better at relaxing around the Avengers but in so many ways it felt like Tony had seen a different man only last night; haunted and tortured yet needing so much, searching for a distraction. Not unlike Tony and it suddenly dawned on him that they may well have just ruined their professional relationship.
Then again, it might have been ruined the moment they were taken over to the gray side and... Tony refused to think about it, to give it the label it no doubt deserved, instead of thinking of the emotional baggage they now carried. Seeing each other like that wasn’t something people were ever prepared for and Tony was afraid that experience combined with last night would impact the team, and put a strain between them they didn’t need.
The Avengers needed Captain America, just as much as they needed Iron Man. And Tony certainly needed Steve by his side – as a friend.
“Do you always frown like that in the morning, or is it because of the company you’re keeping?” Steve’s voice interrupted his musings and Tony started slightly, almost kneeing Steve in the groin. The blue eyes were regarding him, blinking slowly, yet Tony didn’t imagine for a minute Steve wasn’t ready to roll out of bed and be in instant battle mode should the need arise.
“Are you sure it’s morning?” Tony asked, jumping over the main part of the question.
“It is a little past one in the afternoon,” JARVIS supplied. “Good morning, sir. I hope you are feeling better.”
“Loads,” Tony replied. It was only half a lie.
“The other Avengers have expressed their concerns but I have informed them both you and Mr. Rogers require rest. They have agreed to this.”
“Thanks.” This meant JARVIS hadn’t let anyone check on him or Steve and no one should have discovered what had happened last night – or where they were, or that they were there together.
“You didn’t answer my question,” Steve pressed.
“Do you want me to?” Tony arched an eyebrow. Now that they were both awake he could address the fact that they were both naked and lying pretty close. And apparently Steve had morning wood that hadn’t been there a moment ago. Tony thought the sensible thing to do was to slide his hand down to help him with it, considering Steve had been there for him last night.
Steve’s expression didn’t even twitch at the sensation of Tony’s hand on his cock. “Last night we did what we had to,” he stated.
“Agreed.” And Tony really did agree – he knew he preferred these new memories to the ones that had been forced upon him, and maybe Steve felt the same. He sure hoped so because taking advantage of the other man’s emotional state wasn’t what he wanted to carry on his shoulders for the rest of his life.
“That doesn’t obligate us to do anything else…” Steve went on.
Tony’s hand stopped and began to withdraw from Steve’s cock, getting the hint.
“… unless we want to,” Steve finished, shifting closer, eyes suddenly hot. His large hand moved up Tony’s side then down along his spine, past his ass to his flank and then between his legs, tugging gently at his balls.
Tony’s fingers returned to grip the blond’s erection and a smile tugged at his lips. “So is this happening just because we happen to be very conveniently naked, or should I know something else about you, Cap?” he teased.
“I want you,” Steve stated and then rolled up on top of him.
Tony could live with that. He didn’t need an elaboration beyond those three words in order to enjoy Steve’s grip moving to grasp his cock, jerking it, making Tony’s body truly wake up. He was still worn out but he had several incentives to push himself to go along with this.
Steve leaned on one arm above him, much like last night, pushing his hips down, narrowing the space between their hips and rocking them together, just slightly, when both their hands conveniently gave way. He lacked finesse, Tony could see that now, wondering if Steve had ever gotten a chance to be close to another person. Not as much as Tony, certainly. That’s why Tony decided to take over, opening his fingers and grasping them both. Steve followed his lead and raised his other hand as well, planting it on the bed by Tony’s head, his hips still grinding into the touch, his breaths slightly less controlled.
Tony admitted he could get used to this view, seeing the strong, muscled body shifting above him, feeling it against him, seeing the slight tremors every time Tony stroked him good, rubbing him in a way he liked. Then Steve was much closer, obscuring his view as he leaned down to kiss him, breaths hot and tongue insistent yet it was as far from the horrors of the gray side as it could be and Tony didn’t think about the comparison unless he made himself.
Steve came with a groan, hips jerking, and Tony might have made a joke about almost breaking his fingers with his dick if he weren’t very close himself. Steve reached out to help him along, tugging, caressing and gripping randomly which kept Tony rolling on the edge a few seconds longer before he was shoved over it and damn, it was good.
He gasped and heaved for air, relaxing on the bed and Steve pushed himself to the side. Tony was certain his weight would squish him uncomfortably and was thankful for that small gesture of consideration.
“The other Avengers are preparing lunch. Shall I inform them that you will be joining them?” JARVIS piped up – a sign that he was waiting to announce that Tony was awake.
“Sure,” Tony replied after a moment. “Just… not immediately.”
“Very well,” the AI responded then left them alone.
“We should get cleaned up,” Steve mused and they got up, heading for the shower again. It was becoming a habit, almost, and Steve promptly selected a shower gel Tony liked – how did he even know that? – and squirted some in his hand, then offered it to Tony. It wasn’t nearly as intimate as last night, as little as Tony recalled of their final shower before falling asleep.
They finished quickly this time, toweling off, yet Tony realized quite soon they were checking each other out, whether it was directly or through a mirror on the wall. What used to be innocent, traditional male spying was now far more open. Seeing as they had already seen all they had to offer…
“We have to decide what to tell the others,” Steve finally said as he pulled on his clothes from last night. “About the time in the gray side,” he clarified.
“Can we choose to tell them nothing?” Tony suggested. He didn’t want to dwell on it, least of all share it. They wouldn’t get it, and he didn’t want to see their reactions to the truth; he had a hard enough time getting over it and didn’t need anyone else’s opinion on the matter.
Steve regarded him for a moment, watching as Tony dressed himself. “Tony –”
“No,” Tony interrupted him. “We know, okay? Isn’t that enough? We’re not alone in this. We weren’t alone last night.” He looked at the other man for a moment; a soldier, the embodiment of strong male identity. “Do you want to tell them?” he asked then, not knowing how he would react if Steve wanted to share the event with someone else to unburden himself.
“No,” Steve agreed with him. “And… I guess I should be thankful I don’t have to deal with it alone. Or that you don’t.” He stepped closer but seemed less sure of himself than he had been earlier, or last night. “I’m not sure where this is going,” he admitted then.
“It doesn’t have to be going anywhere,” Tony offered. “Or it can be going somewhere… pleasant. And I don’t mean just sex, although that was nice, considering the… well, everything,” he admitted. “Actually, last night was horrible. So horrible. I’m sorry I put you through that.”
“Don’t be,” Steve shook his head and reached out to touch Tony’s face, briefly, then allowed the hand to fall on his shoulder in a gesture that was familiar from all their time together. Less intimate. “I needed it, more than you think.”
“Okay,” Tony said – or tried to say, but it came out as a slightly constricted whisper. His thoughts flew back to Steve on top of him, pushing into him, and the horrible sensation that took over for a moment, that he was back there, no matter what his eyes were seeing and he wasn’t absolutely positive it was someone he trusted and cared about.
Steve decided that was a perfect moment to kiss his forehead, which evaporated any and all unpleasant thoughts from Tony’s brain. They both cleared their throats and shared small, tentative smiles.
“What do you think they wanted?” Steve mused as they got ready to leave the room. “Why they did what they did?”
Tony didn’t need to be a genius to know what he meant. “I don’t know. I have no idea and I’m thinking I don’t want to figure it out. Ignorance is bliss,” he declared, feeling uneasiness shift inside him.
“That’s not like you,” Steve pointed out.
“Some things are better left undisturbed,” Tony decided, knowing how much that stance went against everything he represented but whether it had been some strange alien ritual or something else, he felt he was better off without knowing. Steve didn’t argue with him.
They stood there for a moment, in deep silence, looking at the door that suddenly appeared intimidating and impenetrable. The world beyond that door didn’t seem appealing and Tony would have gladly kept hiding from it, but he knew better than to try. If they wanted to keep this thing a secret, they needed to act normal – and hiding in his room, or anywhere else, wasn’t normal.
He lifted his hand to the handle and pulled the door open, hearing the lock click open, finalizing his decision. They stepped out, looking down the hallway, deciding no one was around.
In unison, they walked out to the dining room and then to the kitchen, finding the other Avengers gathered there and trying to create some kind of lunch that would be edible. It seemed there were, once again, too many cooks involved and this was why they usually ordered out. It was easier – and less expensive when Tony didn’t have to replace half the kitchen equipment later.
“Hey, guys!” Jan welcomed them in and changed into Wasp, flying over. “Are you feeling better?”
“We’re fine,” Steve responded, not betraying anything.
“So, are you going to tell us what happened?” Clint asked at once, leaning towards them, pointing between Tony and Steve with a wooden spoon.
“No,” Tony shot back.
Carol pursed her lips, clearly disapproving. “You made contact with an alien –”
That was when the Hulk stomped into the room, stopping to regard them all, much like he always did, yet this time his attention seemed most fixated on Steve and Tony. He crossed his arms over his chest, sniffed audibly a few times, then grunted. “They fucked.”
Tony was glad his jaw was attached to the rest of his body or it may have dropped onto the floor.
“What?” Clint blinked, leaning back with a weird look on his face.
“They used the same shampoo,” the Hulk added as if he was proving a point.
Tony didn’t wait to see how everyone else interpreted that. He turned and purposefully strode out of the room, aware that he was leaving Steve to fend for himself but he couldn’t deal with this right now. He headed down, to underground levels, thinking of maybe working on his suit – he could always work on the suit – but ended up walking around the gym area instead, getting off the elevator on the wrong level.
It seemed like hours later when Steve suddenly appeared in front of him, startling Tony out of his wits by just standing there, looking at him.
“Thanks for leaving me there,” was the first thing the super-soldier said.
Tony grimaced. “Yeah, I…”
“No, I didn’t! It was a strategic exit.”
“You almost ran out of the room.”
Okay, so maybe he had panicked just a little, although there was no reason to do that, seeing as he was Tony Stark and he didn’t panic over someone assuming he had fucked someone. He just hadn’t though it would be the Hulk, of all people – and that he would just say it out loud.
“What did you tell them?” Tony asked after he had gotten his mind to stop spiraling out of control.
“Nothing,” Steve shrugged. “Given your reaction, I wasn’t about to explain any of it.” He regarded Tony for a bit longer. “Are you okay?” he asked then.
“Dandy,” Tony shrugged. “I’m sorry, about…”
“Leaving me there.”
“Yeah. I realize I shouldn’t have.”
Steve nodded then moved his arms and rested them on Tony’s body, one on his shoulder and one on his hip – two very contradictory areas, one suggesting friendship and the other reminding him of last night, and ultimately what they had been through before said night. And morning; Tony didn’t want to forget about this morning. “Nothing’s changed since we got out of bed,” Steve told him. “If we want this…” his face moved closer, “we’ll have it. Take it. Whatever sounds best.”
“I think you kissing me sounds pretty good right now,” Tony admitted and Steve obliged, pressing him against a padded pillar and pushing their bodies together from lips to toes.
Another eternity passed. Somewhere in the middle of it JARVIS tried to intervene but Tony shut him up with a quick command and returned to the matter at hand. It was strange how satisfying it was in the end, to just touch and be there, kissing and not doing much more. Well, he was certain Steve would have been up for more but perhaps the man took pity on Tony’s human endurance and slowed things down until they were just standing there, Steve still leaning against him, pressing Tony firmly between his bulk and the pillar, foreheads together and their breaths almost in synch.
“What was it you wanted, JARVIS?” Tony finally asked.
“The other Avengers were approaching to have a word. They are presently gathered in the living room.”
“Did you tell them to go?”
“No. They took the hint.”
“The hint?” Steve frowned.
“Bring up the surveillance feed,” Tony frowned and the screen closest to them lit up. They could see the Avengers coming down a familiar hallway which led to the gym.
“I think we should apologize to them,” Jan was saying. “Tony looked really hurt.” She glanced at the Hulk who was walking beside her. “You shouldn’t just say things like that.”
The Hulk grunted.
“What did you mean by it anyway?” Clint still wore that strange look on his face.
“Was it something that happened on the gray side while they were gone?” Carol guessed.
“Perhaps they were subjected to something that made them…” Hank was frowning, clearly uncomfortable with the subject. Seeing as he had never really made an actual move on Jan, it wasn’t surprising.
“You think they had sex and are too ashamed to tell us?” Jan, of course, volunteered to theorize.
“I didn’t say that!” Hank attempted to salvage the situation but still looked thoughtful. “Perhaps it wasn’t entirely voluntary.”
“Whatever it was, we’ll get to the bottom of it,” Carol vowed.
“Are you sure you want to get to the bottom of it?” Clint sniggered.
“They did not seem amused by the Hulk’s statement. I would approach the situation with care,” T’Challa observed, ever the voice of reason. If it were just him, Tony was certain he wouldn’t bring it up for the next few years – but he was just one man.
The group, led by Carol and Jan, stopped suddenly, the women almost getting run over by everyone else. They all were looking at something off camera.
“Shit,” Carol exclaimed.
The Hulk let out a self-satisfied huff and turned. “I don’t need to see this.”
“None of us do!” Hank agreed. “Come on, let’s leave them… to…”
Jan and Carol were still standing there, rooted to the spot, as was Clint. Gaping. Tony suddenly had a very good idea what they were looking at. Steve, too, had caught on, suggested by a slight flush that was making its way up his neck.
“Friends, let us leave them alone,” T’Challa decided and pulled everyone else along.
“That,” Clint started as they walked away.
“Was kind of hot!” Jan grinned. Tony knew she was grinning; he knew that tone of voice.
“We’ll never speak of this again unless they bring it up,” Carol decided.
“Ever,” Clint agreed.
JARVIS cut the feed and Tony sighed. “That went well.”
“At least we don’t have to hide, in case we continue this,” Steve looked at the bright side.
Tony suppressed a smile. “Yeah.”
It may have not started for the right reasons, or under the best of circumstances, but it felt good and right – something that didn’t come in abundance in their lives.
Author’s notes: This ended up as a very strange fic.
Also, Hulk is the BOSS. (I don’t know this for a fact, but I wager his senses are above human level. And maybe he just knows these things.)