Genius, (secret) billionaire, philanthropist, police officer.
The warehouse was a mess, but oddly enough it wasn't because of the body. No, the mess had been there long before the corpse laying smack dab in the middle of it. Raymond Trent, thirty-five years old, single, worked as an electrician. No children. One sister, mother deceased, father lived somewhere in Southern Florida. By all accounts, he was a genuinely nice guy. All of his coworkers only had positive things to say about him. His ex-girlfriend's only point of contention was the dog that she was allergic to.
He was also a serial rapist and, with the last victim, murderer. Tony hadn't worked the case, but he knew the guys who had. They had Trent dead to rights until a rookie cop, naive and too excited by half, fucked up. Next thing the precinct knew, Trent was walking out scot free and all evidence, all charges, were being thrown out. For the past three months, Trent had been a veritable angel. The only hint to the evil lurking within was the smarmy smirk he got on his face every time he saw an officer, a smirk that practically screamed 'I'm going to do it again and you can't stop me'.
Trent wouldn't be hurting anyone now.
"Son of a bitch," Tony muttered, finally coming to a stop in front of Trent. He didn't need the crime scene investigators to tell him what happened. He already knew that Trent had died from, oddly enough, an arrow. An arrow that had been drawn with perfect precision from some forty feet away. An arrow that, in all honesty, Trent probably never saw coming.
That didn't mean he'd died quickly, though. Just from the location of the wound, Tony could tell that Trent would've slowly choked to death on his own blood. God only knew what he'd witnessed while that was happening, but it probably hadn't been pleasant. Tony's mind was supplying him with far too many possibilities. With an inward shudder, he turned away from the disgusting sight and looked at the real problem.
There, unnoticeable to the average eye but practically screaming for attention from an experienced one, was a single fingerprint in blood. Tony didn't know whose print it was. He had his suspicions. He would've given his entire fortune up on a bet, he was that sure. It had to belong to one of five people: Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanov, Clint Barton, or the two (step?) brothers known only as Thor and Loki.
Judging from the size, it probably wasn't Natasha's. It didn't really matter. That one fingerprint would inevitably lead investigators back to the whole team. From then on, it would only be a matter of time before someone connected the dots the way that Tony had.
Frankly, it was a miracle that no one else had before. Well, a miracle or the sticky fingers of Bruce Banner, resident forensics expert for the precinct. Or possibly the influence of Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, head of the local FBI satellite office and head private consultant, respectively. Or maybe all three of them. Or more. There were days when trying to figure out the conspiracy that Tony had inadvertently stumbled onto two years ago made him want to throw his hands up, quit his job, and move to Malibu where at least the winters weren't so damned cold.
Other days, the thought of leaving behind his partner, the precinct that had given him a chance, and Steve Rogers was the furthest thought from his head.
That last one was why Tony was an idiot, by the way.
"Don't get too close," Rhodey said suddenly, nearly scaring Tony half to death. "I meant it, Tony. The last thing we need is to be brought up on charges of interfering with a crime scene. You don't even have the excuse of trying to save him this time."
"That wasn't an excuse," Tony said, shooting him a wounded look. And he wouldn't say as much to Rhodey, but the last thing he would've done was tried to save Trent's life. As far as Tony was concerned, the bastard had been put down like the animal he was. Why should they have to wait until he raped and murdered someone else before having the opportunity to put him behind bars? This was cold, but no one could deny it was efficient.
Rhodey just rolled his eyes. "If I say I'm going to go secure the perimeter, will you be good and not touch anything?"
"You would me, honey bear," Tony called after him. His partner just scoffed and slipped outside.
Left alone, Tony's eyes returned to the fingerprint. He didn't know if Rhodey had seen it. Probably not, since Rhodey had no reason to be going over the crime scene with a fine tooth comb. Tony didn't either, technically. Not unless you counted the fact that he was trying to keep the man he was in love with from being sent to jail.
"I'd like to state for the record, your honor, that I did not mean to fall in love with the gorgeous murderer," he muttered, circling the fingerprint. How the hell could they have not noticed it? Steve's team was usually so clean. Maybe they'd been in a rush. Maybe they'd been interrupted. This wasn't exactly the middle of nowhere. The warehouses on either side were in use. Maybe it was dark, but getting light, and they got spooked and took off and now there was this.
He could just back away. Leave it for Bruce to deal with. It wouldn't be the first time that evidence was misplaced, or carefully altered, or whatever it was that made it so that the team was never implicated. But the problem was, Tony couldn't be sure that this evidence would actually get to Bruce. Last he'd heard, forensics had just hired a new person who was taking on a lot of the workload. What if this fingerprint went to her and she ran it through C.O.D.I.S. and got a hit on it and it turned up as Steve and -
Jesus. Tony bent over, hands on his knees, and tried to breathe through the tightness in his chest. An image flashed through his head: three years ago, when Bucky Barnes first came to town and started encroaching on Tony's precinct's turf, Bucky had thrown the first of what would become a biweekly barbecue and invited everyone in the hopes of the mending some bridges and soothing ruffled feathers. It hadn't really worked, though Bucky's relations with the precinct were much better now.
Bucky'd invited some of his own friends to that barbecue, too. And that was where Tony first met Steve. Steve, the blond god with warm blue eyes and a smile that could make anyone weak at the knees. Steve, who was genuinely good-hearted, who didn't like bullies, who wasn't afraid to get into a fight to defend someone. Steve, who had been killing people for longer than Tony could guess. Steve, who only killed the dregs of society.
A car pulled up outside. Tony snapped upright, horrified, half-expecting to see back-up and C.S.I. piling through the door. But it was just Bucky and Sam. Neither one of them looked surprised by the grisly sight, of course. And suddenly Tony was done. He'd had it. Two years of secret stresses, or risking his job at least twice every 3-4 months, of covering for these assholes, and he was done.
"Your boyfriend," he snarled at Bucky, "is a fucking idiot, and you can tell his dumb ass that he needs to be more careful."
Bucky stared at him.
Tony glared back and started to stomp out. Guilt, or maybe stubbornness - god knows he hadn't come this far just to let Steve get thrown in jail now - kicked in before he got to the door. He whirled back around, stormed over to the fingerprint, and deliberately swiped his foot through the sticky, congealing blood. Sam made a choked sound of surprise, but Tony ignored him. He slipped his foot out of the shoe, smeared the blood again with his sock for good measure, and removed his sock before grabbing his shoe.
"I hate all of you," Tony announced, and, with as much dignity as he could muster, limped his way over to the door.
He needed to find a bridge to throw his socks and shoes over, and then he needed a really long shower.
Sometime that night, when he was lying awake and staring at the ceiling, panic started to set in. He’d as good as announced that he knew exactly who was behind that murder. He didn’t have any evidence supporting it – all of Tony’s theories had been pulled together through nothing more than circumstantial evidence; he knew damn well that even if he wanted to take it to someone else, they would think he was crazy even if he could provide the context – but that probably wouldn’t matter.
Steve was going to kill him.
Or maybe it wouldn’t be Steve. Tony didn’t even know if he rated that high on their list of priorities. Sure he was a cop, but they also had an FBI agent on their side. Maybe it would be someone else. Natasha with her knives, or Clint with an arrow late one night. Or Loki, who adored poison. Thor, with his hammer. He shuddered, curling in on himself at the thought of any one of them coming for him, and tried to imagine shooting Steve.
He couldn’t. Even if Steve was choking him, Tony wasn’t sure he’d be able to lift his gun against him. But at the same time, he didn’t want to die. And he was a police officer! It was his job to take people like Steve down. And regardless of what that asshole Hammer said, Tony took his job seriously. This was the first time he’d ever seriously called his morality into question. It wasn’t a good feeling.
He closed his eyes. Sometimes he wished he’d never been the first one on scene two years ago. Reports had been for shots fired and a potential mugging. Tony, alone on patrol because Rhodey was out sick, had been the closest. He was only three years in on the job then, still considered a foolish newbie by most of the precinct, and scared to the bone, though he’d done his best to hide it.
It had been too late, though. The woman was already dead. Not because of a gunshot, strangely enough, but because of the knife sticking out of her belly. It was a very distinctive knife: made of some foreign, shiny material, with a snake curled around the handle. Tony had stood there, staring at that knife, for at least ten minutes. Natasha had shown him that very knife not two weeks before, at one of the barbecues Bucky threw regularly.
Then he’d heard the lights and sirens, and he’d reacted on instinct. He'd grabbed the knife and wrapped it in an old shirt of Rhodey’s, hiding it in the trunk of the patrol car. His heart raced the whole time he stood there with the other officers, certain that the truth of what he’d done was written across his face. But no one had looked at him strangely, no one had asked any questions, and three hours later Tony drove home with a burning secret in the back of his car.
He’d stewed over the night for a good four days, wondering whether to tell anyone. Several times he opened up his mouth to tell Rhodey, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. At that point, Rhodey hadn’t been going to any of the barbeques because his wife, Carol, was pregnant, and the smell of cooking meat turned her belly. So Tony, no favorite at the precinct because of his background, had continued to go alone. Again. And again. And again.
Because Bucky’s friends were nice, okay? All of them were friendly and pretty accepting of an outsider. Bucky invited the whole precinct every time, but Tony was the one who really got along with them. Clint was a wise ass. Natasha was sleek and deadly. Thor was very kind, if boisterous. Loki – well, Tony wasn’t sure about Loki. No one was, really, but Thor loved him so he stayed. And Steve… Steve was gorgeous and funny and sarcastic and exactly the kind of guy Tony wanted to climb like a tree, except he was already dating Bucky and Tony wasn’t the kind of guy to come between two people.
The fact that one night, all of them drunk of their asses, Tony had almost kissed Steve notwithstanding, of course.
Apparently having people who were actually glad to see him was all it took to make Tony into a sucker, especially when he found out that the victim that night was known for being a child smuggler. They just didn’t have the evidence against her to put her away. Faced with that, Tony made the only decision he felt that he could. He'd cleaned the knife, and, during the next barbecue when there was a bigger crowd than normal because Carol and Rhodey brought their new baby along at Bucky’s insistence, he’d left it under Bucky’s couch.
That was the defining incident that opened Tony’s eyes. The one that should’ve made him back off and stop going to the barbecues, stop accepting Bucky’s invitations to hang out, stop liking the whole group. But, because Tony was an idiot, he didn’t do any of that. And now here he was, two years later, having covered for the team a handful of times since then. He might as well have killed someone himself; that’s how the court would see it. He was an accessory for several murders.
He could turn himself in tomorrow. But who would believe him? See: circumstantial evidence. He didn’t have the knife. He didn’t have any fingerprints. Anything that made it past Tony to forensics would’ve been carefully omitted by Bruce, who was pretty cozy with Clint and Natasha in particular. No connections had ever been drawn between the cases, both because the M.O.’s were different and because Bucky was the one who made the decision on whether the FBI was officially called in. And Sam was always happy to help direct the precinct in a different direction.
Someone on that team, Tony suspected the lethal combination of Loki, Natasha and Bruce, was very skilled at framing people. Often the people who went down for these murders were lesser criminals, people who stole or committed fraud or embezzled. There was always some connection that Sam or someone else could point to, and boom. Just like that, the alleged perpetrator was in jail and Tony’s precinct got to pat themselves on the back while the team walked away to break the law and play god another day.
No. Confessing wasn’t an option. No one would take him seriously even if he cared to try, and he wasn’t sure that he did. All he could do was try to act normally and hope that he wasn’t going to be taken down by a sniper while he was walking to work in the morning.
“I’m going to die,” Tony muttered into his covers. He cracked an eye open when his alarm went off and reluctantly hauled himself out of bed. When he looked in the mirror, he looked like death warmed over. Fitting.
It was a miserable day. There was no sign of Bucky or Sam, not that Tony really wanted to see them. Rhodey kept giving him blatantly concerned looks, which Tony did his best to ignore. The rest of his coworkers didn’t really react any differently from normal – most of them still acted like Tony was just a rich daddy’s boy here to be a drag on their resources and were standoffish or condescending at best, though a couple, like Hammer, were openly antagonistic. Tony just didn’t have it in him to get into a fight with Hammer today.
The next three days were largely the same; Tony suffered through a largely sleepless night, got up, went to work, and went out on patrol with Rhodey. He couldn't even bring himself to sleep when he was with Rhodey, even though both of them had been known to catch quick naps when things were quiet. It was hard not to let his mind run wild and second-guess every wind, every shadow, every person who gave him a dirty look, every beverage or item of food that he put to his mouth. When he got home, he set up his security system and spent hours staring blankly at the television, too exhausted to even think of doing anything productive.
On day four, something finally changed. Tony walked into work, his last shift before he had four days off, and discovered that someone had tripped the secret and very much illegal alarms that Tony attached to all of his files. And, if he was being honest with himself, some that weren't his: he'd flagged every file that he had connected to Steve's team over the past twenty-four months, just so that he would be up to date on whoever took a second look at the files, including the ones that Tony'd had a hand in altering. And according to his alarms, over the past twelve hours Bucky had looked at every. Single. One.
Tony must have gone dead white because the next thing he knew, Rhodey had grabbed his arm and one of the top prosecution lawyers in the state, Pepper Potts, had grabbed the other. Both of them had identical worried looks on their faces and, fair enough, because really, it was only because of them that Tony was still standing. He managed to babble something about fresh air; Pepper steered him outside, while Rhodey went to grab some water. In downtown New York, the air really wasn't that fresh, but Tony savored it anyway as he sank onto a bench. God knew he probably wouldn't be breathing for much longer.
"Are you okay?" Pepper said. "Bend down, put your head between your knees." She set her hand to the back of Tony's neck, forcing him to follow through. "Jesus, Tony, you look like shit."
"Always a charmer," Tony wheezed, the drain of adrenaline leaving him light-headed and dizzy.
"It's not my job to be charming." Pepper went quiet, her hand sliding off Tony's neck. He straightened up, feeling marginally better, and avoided her worried gaze.
Rhodey came out with a cup of water in hand. "Drink this," he ordered. "What's going on, Tony?"
"Don't give me that. You've been out sorts all week."
Tony shrugged. "I must be getting sick," he lied, feeling the panic in his gut slowly subside into calm. It was fine. He was going to die, and probably soon. He wouldn't drag Pepper and Rhodey down with him. Rhodey had two kids and a wife at home that he was supporting, and Pepper had one of the highest rates of convictions to date. Criminals and defense attorneys alike cringed when they heard that they were going up against her in the courtroom. She was completely ruthless.
"You, actually admitting to being sick? Now I know something's wrong," Pepper said.
He shook his head. "It's nothing, guys, seriously. I didn't sleep well the last couple nights. I keep thinking about that case in the warehouse." It wasn't a complete lie, after all.
Rhodey pulled a face. "That was gross," he admitted reluctantly.
"I just - I really need to sleep." Tony drained the last of the water and handed the cup back to Rhodey. "Could you make my excuses to Carter? Tell her I'm not feeling well or whatever."
"Do you want me to see you home?" Pepper asked.
"No, Pep, it's fine. Thanks." Very slowly, he stood up. The world spun a little, but it wasn't too bad. Rhodey still insisted on calling him a cab, and Tony didn't bother to fight him on it. Mostly because he wasn't sure if he was strong enough to make it home under his own power right now. He let Pepper and Rhodey bundle him into the back of the first cab that showed up and endured a thirty second lecture from Pepper about taking better care of himself before the cab pulled away from the curb.
Tony was tired. So tired. He crossed his arms over his chest, curling up into corner and resting his head against the seat. He had a headache. "You gonna kill me now?" he asked out loud.
Blue eyes glanced at him in the rearview mirror. Steve sounded surprisingly kind when he said, "Go to sleep, Tony. You look exhausted."
A better man probably would've jumped out of the cab. A better man would've pulled his gun. A better man would've come up with some kind of a plan on the spot. Tony was not a better man. There was no doubt in his mind that if he escaped one of the others would inevitably come for him, and that person would not be nearly as gentle as Steve. He closed his eyes and, now that he was certain the end was near, was actually able to sleep.
When he woke up, he was no longer in the back of the cab. Truth be told, Tony was a little surprised to wake up period. He rolled over and sat up, putting a hand to his head. It was dark in the room, but moonlight was seeping in around the curtains. He checked his watch reflexively and was shocked to see that it was almost 4am. The last thing he remembered was getting into the cab with Steve at the wheel, and that had been at 10am. Had he really slept for close to eighteen hours? The way his stomach was growling and the crustiness of his eyes suggested that yes, yes he had.
Someone - Steve? - had removed his jacket and shoes, but other than that Tony's uniform was untouched. Even his gun was sitting on the nightstand. He left it there, padding out into the hallway in his socked feet. He could hear a television and smell bacon, and he followed both down the hall. It opened into a beautiful living room. Tony walked across the hardwood floors and over to the floor-to-ceiling windows. It was dark outside, of course, but he could see the beginning of a forest about twenty feet away. There was also a pretty awesome pool just to his right.
He rested his forehead against the glass, feeling both dizzy and confused, and saw Steve's reflection long before he would've otherwise realized that the man was there. For someone who was so large, Steve moved like a ninja. Tony watched him for a moment; Steve was leaning against the doorframe, arms folded casually, just watching Tony in return. He was wearing jeans and -
"Are you wearing a 'Kiss the Cook' frilly pink apron?" Tony asked in disbelief, turning around.
"Yes, I am," Steve said. "Clint bought it for and bet me a hundred dollars I wouldn't wear it every day for six months. I'm only on month four." He was smiling, like this was just any other conversation they'd had over the past three years. "Are you coming? Breakfast is almost ready. You have perfect timing." He beckoned to Tony, turning to walk back into the kitchen.
And Tony followed. What else could he do?
He sat down at the table, where Steve had already set out two places. Steve added a platter of bacon to the french toast and fresh fruit already laid out and sat down. Tony watched silently as he dished himself up a large plate of everything. Clearly the food wasn't poisoned, because Steve had no trouble biting into a piece of bacon. Unless it was poisoned, and he'd taken an antidote beforehand? But poisoning had never been Steve's style near as Tony could tell. Unless they wanted to lull him into a false sense of security...
"Aren't you hungry?" Steve asked.
"Are you going to kill me?" Tony asked. The words were out before he'd even realized he was going to ask.
Tony stared at him. "You're... not going to kill me?"
"No, Tony, jesus."
"You're... not going to kill me now or you're not going to kill me at all?"
"At all," Steve said. "I am not going to kill you at all. No one is going to kill you, okay?" It was amazing how much he could look like a kicked puppy.
For some reason, that wasn't as comforting as it should have been. "Why not?"
It was Steve's turn to stare. "Did you seriously just ask me why I wasn't going to kill you? Do you have any self-preservation instincts at all?"
Steve sighed and set down his fork. He leaned forward, blue eyes intent. "Okay. I'll be straight. When Bucky told us about what you did, there were a few select members of the group -"
"Natasha and Loki."
" - who thought it might be best to arrange an accident for you. But Clint pointed out that you'd known for a while, which we received confirmation of last night. That's also when we found out just how many times you covered our butts. After that, no one had much time to say anything because I was so pissed. We're supposed to be elite, not leaving behind scraps of D.N.A. evidence and murder weapons every time we turn around." Steve grumbled a little. It was strangely adorable. "After Coulson pointed out just how fucked we would've been if anyone but you had connected the dots, it was pretty quiet."
'Wait. Coulson's a part of this too?" Tony said in disbelief. It was hard to imagine his straight-laced supervisor being anything but on the side of the law.
"Tony," Steve said, very gently. "How do you think it's been so long since we've been caught? Peggy's one of my oldest friends, and we all know Nick really well."
"You..." Tony's mouth actually hung open. He was speechless. Peggy Carter was the head of Tony's precinct. Nick Fury was the guy two bosses above the asshole that Bucky reported to.
Steve smiled sheepishly. "Yeah. There's a reason we've never been caught. You're only the second person to stumble across us. Bruce was the first."
"I can't believe this," Tony said, dropping his head into his hands. "I've spent the past two years thinking that the guy I was in love with could be sent to jail at any moment in time and it was this conspiracy I had to keep my mouth shut about if I wanted him free, and you're telling me that I could've thrown myself on Carter's mercy that night and she would've been fine with it?! Do you know how many sleepless nights I've had trying to figure out what I was supposed to do? Do you know how many times I've questioned my own code of morality and ethics because part of me agreed with what you were doing? Do you know how many times I seriously considered handing in my badge because I couldn't make myself turn you in? And how much I hated myself for that?" He looked up at Steve, outraged, but Steve just looked torn between shock and beaming.
"You... love me?"
"What?" Tony blinked at him, ran his mind over what he'd just said, and froze. "Uh..."
"Tony," Steve breathed, blue eyes bright. "I love you, too."
"No you don't," Tony said, shaking his head, because if there was one thing he was sure of it was this. "You love Bucky. Your boyfriend?"
"Yeah, about that. Tony, Bucky is not my boyfriend. We grew up together. He's like my brother. Besides, he's dating Sam and they're very happy together. I could never come between them."
"No, they're -" Tony stopped mid-sentence, thinking about the idea of Bucky and Sam. It made a hell of a lot of sense. He frowned. "But I tried to kiss you that night and you pulled away."
"First of all, you were drunk. Secondly, I'm a criminal," Steve said with exaggerated patience. "I kill people on a regular basis. We have a pretty good system in place of people who are willing to look the other way for the purposes of keeping innocent people safe, but... You said it yourself, this has caused you so much trouble and pain over the past two years. I didn't want to put you through that, Tony. If I'd known that you had figured out..." He shook his head. "I should've known. You're the smartest person I've ever met. I just wasn't thinking. I'm so sorry."
"I need some time to think," Tony said blankly. This was too much information for his brain to bring together. He pushed his chair back from the table and walked out of the room.
He avoided Steve as much as possible for the next two days, which was surprisingly easy considering that the cabin was small. He texted Rhodey and Pepper to tell them that he was fine and that he was taking extra vacation days, and then texted the same thing to Peggy. Knowing her, she already knew exactly where he was and what was going on. Tony himself still wasn't sure about that last part, though. Everything Steve had explained could've been done in Tony's tiny bedroom in New York. He wasn't sure why Steve had brought him all the way out here.
It was that curiosity that kept him from leaving, even though he could have at any moment. The keys to Steve's truck were visible at all times, sitting in the stupid little candy dish on the kitchen counter. Tony had plenty of opportunity. He could've been in the truck and a mile up the road before Steve even realized what was happening. He didn't, though. He even went so far as to remove the bullets from his gun under the premise that he was giving it a thorough cleaning, but then he didn't bother to put them back in.
Tony was pretty sure that he didn't need them.
Thursday afternoon, he swaggered out to where Steve was laying beside the pool on a reclining lawn chair. Steve sat up at his approach, sunglasses sliding down his nose, looking like he wasn't sure whether he should take off or stay where he was. Tony ignored him at first, sitting down in the other lawn chair and boldly taking his shirt off to reveal the pattern of scars on his chest. It was a sight he usually tried to hide, but today he felt like being daring. Like throwing himself, throwing this, in Steve's face and waiting to see whether it would blow up.
"So tell me," he said, leaning back against the chair. "How does it work?"
To his credit, Steve didn't try to pretend like he had no idea what Tony was talking about. "I started it," he said without hesitation. "It was all me in the beginning. I like killing people."
The complete lack of shame and hesitation took Tony's breath away. To his embarrassment, he felt his boxers getting a little tight. There was just something very sexy about Steve being so confident, even if the subject matter should've been about as un-exciting as they came.
"I met the others one at a time. I knew Sam from being in the army with him. That's how I met Natasha, and she brought Clint with her. Thor and Loki just kinda showed up one day. I think Loki was spying on us. Then they just never left." Steve shrugged one shoulder, as though this was an ordinary group meeting to play games every month or something like that.
"And Carter?" Tony said, proud when his voice remained steady. "Fury?"
"Like I said, I've known Peg forever. She doesn't approve, exactly, but... She gets frustrated with how the justice system works sometimes and I can’t blame her. Every once in a while she slips us the names of people who don't deserve to live for whatever reason, but who can't be kept behind bars for whatever reason, and we take care of it." Steve shrugged again. "I think Fury's given us names maybe three times, but for the most part he just turns a blind eye to the situation."
"Why?" That was the part that Tony couldn't work out. "I mean... why not put you all in jail where you belong? That's so... corrupt."
Steve laughed a little, rolling onto his side. "Sweetheart, if you think that's corrupt, you're really naive," he said, not unkindly. "I know it's not right, Tony. And it's illegal. I get that. But we're not hurting anyone who doesn’t deserve it. The end result makes the world a better place, and it keeps me and four other people from murdering innocent people. It's a system that works."
"And Bucky? Sam?"
"They've never killed anyone that I know of. Buck just wants to protect me. Knowing him, that’s the whole reason he joined the FBI. Sam..." Steve rolled the name around in his mouth consideringly. "Sam's never been quite right since he lost his husband in the war. I don't know. Maybe he has killed someone once or twice." He sounded so casual about it.
"Bruce?" Tony asked.
"Bruce found out about us four years ago. He's been a part of the group ever since."
That wasn't much detail, but then out of everyone Tony believed he already knew about Bruce's motivations. It was hard enough to grow up being the odd one out, but then to enter into a work situation where you were openly ostracized? Tony had a lot of experience with how impossible that struggle was. Besides, maybe Bruce felt the same way about this that Tony did: utterly conflicted.
"I'm supposed to protect people," Tony said woodenly, looking down at his hands. At his chest. At the scars he'd earned exactly three days in on the job, stupidly confronting Stane. "I gave my word that I would do that."
"You are protecting people, Tony. You do that every damn day," Steve said quietly. "You never stop trying, and I admire that. Sometimes I wish I could be like you, but... I get these urges and I just can't stop myself. I'm trying to do the best I can with what I've got and what I am."
"And that's why you kidnapped me, so you could explain that."
"Well, no. I kidnapped you so that I could have my way with you."
For a moment, Tony thought his ears were playing tricks on them. He turned to Steve, convinced he couldn't have heard what he thought he'd heard, only to see Steve looking straight at him with a serious expression.
"I told you that I love you and I meant it. I've loved you for the better part of a year and a half, but I didn't think there could be anything between us. Then all of this happened, and I didn't want to lose my chance. I wanted to explain things to you so you would understand. If I'd known that you seriously thought we were going to kill you, I'd have gone to you the night you erased the fingerprint Clint left behind."
“I wondered whose fingerprint that was,” Tony muttered absently, too busy looking into Steve’s eyes to really care. His heart was pounding. He’d wanted to hear Steve say these things for so long, but was it really okay for him to have this? From a moral and ethical standpoint, the answer was obvious. He should be arresting Steve right now. And part of him was tempted to do just that.
But from the beginning, there’d also been a part of him that couldn't deny how effective Steve’s methods were. As a police officer, it was so frustrating to watch a criminal walk free and know that you had to wait until they hurt or killed an innocent person to have another chance at catching them. Tony saw the faces of those innocent people in his nightmares, sometimes. Did that really make murder okay, though?
“I don’t know. I just don’t know, Steve. I – it goes against everything I know,” Tony said, forcing himself to look away. If he said yes right now, that would be it. He’d never be able to walk away.
“I’m not a bad person,” Steve said quietly.
And the fucked up part was, Steve really was a good person in every other way. He’d give you the shirt off his back, stop to help the little old lady cross the street, and rescue any kid’s lost kitten or ball. If you ignored the whole killing thing, Steve was the kind of person you’d hold up as a role model for kids. The kind of person Tony had measured himself against, and been found wanting, his whole life. He squeezed his eyes and sighed.
“I hope you know just how much you fucked me up,” he said bluntly. “I mean, I was pretty bad before, but I never thought I’d be okay with murder.”
“Does that mean…?”
Tony looked at him again. In spite of their conversation, the jolt of lust and affection was pretty much instantaneous. “You don’t like, have sex in blood or anything do you?”
Steve raised both eyebrows. “Not regularly. Sometimes after a successful kill I get a little excited. It can be hot under the right circumstances?” He smiled hopefully, and that smile made Tony’s heart skip a beat.
That decided him. Screw it. Tony had been compromised for well over two years now. The time to turn back was when he first found Natasha’s knife that night, not months later when he was finally getting the opportunity to have everything he’d ever wanted.
“I can work with that,” Tony decided, and stood up. He shucked his pants and boxers and slung a leg over Steve’s lap, straddling him completely naked.
“Tony?” Steve asked, eyes very wide, hands hovering over Tony’s bare hips like he wasn’t sure he was allowed to touch.
“No innocent people. No children ever,” Tony said. Steve was very warm even through swim trunks, and the fabric was very interesting against his bare cock and balls. Plus it felt like Steve was hiding something huge under there. He shifted experimentally and Steve made a choked sound.
“Not ever,” he agreed breathlessly.
“I’d like to know before so that I don’t get called out to your scenes. If it’s an emergency and you need me to cover for you I get that, but as much as possible I want to be kept out of it. For now, at least.”
“But I want to know,” Tony added, “about what you’ve done in the past. I need to know.”
Steve hesitated a little longer at that one before slowly nodding. “That’s fair.”
“And I want your guarantee no one’s going to change their mind and decide I’m better off dead.”
“Never.” Steve’s eyes flashed. “You’re mine. They all know that.”
That definitely should not have been as hot as it was. “I want to be yours,” Tony said in a rare bout of honesty, daring to rest his hands on Steve’s shoulders. “I’ve wanted that for like three years now. I just didn’t think it would ever happen.”
“We were both idiots,” Steve said. He put his hands on Tony’s hips, and wow – Tony had never appreciated before what big hands Steve had. His breathing stuttered when Steve’s hands slid back over the curve of his ass and squeezed.
“Big idiots,” Tony said, swallowing hard. “You have to tell Carter about it. And Fury. And Coulson?”
“Bucky’s already taking care of that.”
Tony made a face. “Please don’t say the name of the guy I spent the last three years thinking you were dating when you’re grabbing my ass.”
“You asked,” Steve said, but he seemed more occupied with squeezing Tony’s butt again and massaging the cheeks. His fingers slipped between, skimming up Tony’s crack, and Tony caught his breath as a shiver raced through his body at the fleeting contact. He was fully hard now, cock resting heavy on Steve’s belly.
It felt best to end the conversation before Tony said something they’d both regret; he leaned down and pressed his mouth to Steve’s for the first time. And, oh yeah, that was a kiss worth waiting three years for. Steve’s lips were soft and full, and he knew exactly how to kiss to make Tony’s knees feel kind of weak, especially when he kept kneading Tony’s ass the whole time.
They kissed for a long time, slow and lazy, just savoring the moment. Tony tangled his hands in Steve’s hair and nipped gently at Steve’s bottom lip, shivering when Steve’s hands tightened on his butt as a reflex. He liked this, he realized. He could have spent hours kissing Steve, learning what made Steve want more, what he liked and didn’t like. He wanted to, someday, but not when he was naked and he could feel Steve’s hard cock rubbing against him.
He ground down as best he could, rocking his hips, and felt a shudder run through Steve in response. Yeah, that was good. Reluctantly he left Steve’s hair alone in favor of tugging at the hem of Steve’s swim trunks; it was hard to push them down when he didn’t want to stop kissing Steve, and before long Steve started shaking with laughter. Tony broke the kiss to pout.
“Laughing isn’t sexy.”
“No, but you are. You’re also cute,” Steve said, giving Tony’s ass one last squeeze. Then he dropped his hands, shoving at his trunks, wiggling his ass until he could get them down around his thighs. His cock sprang up and slapped wetly against Tony’s balls; Tony’s mind might have done a bit of a blue screen at that point, watching as Steve threw his head back and groaned.
“Fuck you’re gorgeous,” Tony said, a little in awe at the fact that this was actually happening. This was only the culmination of three years worth of fantasies.
Steve smiled up at him and put a hand on Tony’s cock, which - yes. Tony kept his eyes open with some effort because he didn’t want to miss a thing, looking down at the sight of Steve’s paler hand slowly running up his dick. Steve’s hand was huge, long fingers rubbing at the underside of the head, and Tony squirmed at that. He had to bite back a protest when Steve slid his hand back down, and Steve grinned.
“How do you wanna do this?” he asked, swiping his pinkie finger through Tony’s pubic hair. “I can bring us off just like this. Or you can slide up and use my mouth.” He licked his reddened, kiss-bruised lips slowly, looking into Tony’s eyes. “I could fuck you… you could ride me, if you wanted, I can't think of anything more beautiful than that.”
Shit. “All of the above?” Tony croaked, hips jerking when Steve’s playful fingers found his cockhead again. He tried to think. “Um – christ, Steve – the last one?”
“You don’t sound too sure about that,” Steve purred, rubbing his thumb lazily over Tony’s slit. Tony might have whimpered. It had been a long time since he’d jerked himself off, never mind had sex. Steve was going to make him come in no time if he kept this up.
“I want everything,” Tony said, somewhat plaintively.
Steve’s expression softened, and he left off stroking Tony’s cock to lean up and kiss him again. “This isn’t a one-time thing for me,” he murmured against Tony’s mouth, swiping his tongue across Tony’s bottom lip. “This is just the first time.”
In more ways than one. Tony had been with guys but he’d never bottomed with anyone before; in his days at MIT, just being Howard Stark’s son meant that he couldn’t really trust anyone. Too many people wanted the chance to get their claws into him, whether it was for fame, money or connections, and then Tony had learned the hard way that they’d leave him high and dry. Then, after his parents died, there was Stane and the way that Tony had been locked out of the company. Trust was a hard-won commodity, and bottoming meant being vulnerable in a way that Tony couldn’t afford.
“I want you to fuck me,” Tony said, making his decision. He was putting everything else – his job, his reputation, arguably his life just by being here – in Steve’s hands. Why not this too? He’d put his hands back on Steve’s shoulders when Steve was jerking him off. Now, he slid his hands down Steve’s very well-muscled chest.
“There’s lube in the pocket of my trunks,” Steve said, which was not what Tony was expecting.
He raised his eyebrows. “Someone was hopeful.”
Steve shrugged. “You never know when you might need lubrication for something,” he said innocently, every inch the boy scout. Tony snorted and leaned back, groping around until he got his hand inside of the pocket. He pulled out a small satchel of lube.
“Is that what you usually carry in your pocket?” Tony asked, studying the lube.
“If that’s a round-about way of asking if I regularly fuck people, the answer is no.” Steve took the satchel from him, ripping it open. “I’ve never raped anyone.”
“That wasn’t what I asked,” Tony croaked, yet he was immeasurably glad to know.
Steve seemed to know what he was thinking, shooting him an undeniably fond look. “You’re sure about this?”
“I’m sure that I’m gonna go grey before you fuck me at this rate.” Tony squeezed some of the lube onto his fingers. It was unexpectedly warm, probably from Steve’s body heat. He leaned up, setting a knee on the lawn chair, and reached behind himself. He let out a low sigh as he touched his index finger to his asshole, making a slow circle to spread some of the lube around. It was a familiar feeling; he’d fucked himself many times alone in his apartment, using fingers and toys as a paltry replacement for the cock he really wanted.
Carefully, he slid two fingers inside, clenching reflexively. He’d always liked this part, the slow stretch, knowing that he was working up to something bigger. Tony liked to tease himself sometimes by using the thinnest dildo he could find, or just one finger, until he was squirming and begging for more. This wasn’t one of those times. He wanted to be fucked, and soon.
He cracked an eye open, curious in spite of himself. Steve was watching him with a reverent expression, like Tony was something divine. Tony had to smile, gasping when he crooked his fingers just right and brushed against his prostate. Too much of that and he’d come on the spot. He slid his fingers out, pushed three back in, and almost fell flat on his face when his knees buckled at the feeling of unfamiliar fingers probing at his hole.
There was hunger in Steve’s eyes, a look that – to Tony’s surprise – he recognized because he'd seen it before. He just hadn't realized what it meant. Steve rubbed his thumb along the rim of Tony’s hole, right as Tony pulled his fingers out, then slowly pushed his thumb in. Tony whimpered, a high noise he’d never made before, as Steve tugged at his rim, messily smearing the lube. He clenched down again, wanting to be filled by more.
“You ready?” Steve asked, voice hoarse.
“Yeah,” Tony breathed, legs shaking with how much he wanted it. He bit his lip against another whimper when Steve’s thumb slowly slid out, leaving him empty. He’d feel the burn, especially with how big Steve’s dick was, but he couldn’t think of anything that sounded better.
“I don’t have any condoms, but I’m clean,” Steve said.
“What? Oh, me too. Can I - ?”
“Yes, Tony, yes.” Steve’s eyes were barely blue, the pupils were so large; his hands came to rest on Tony’s hips, squeezing hard enough to leave bruises. Tony swung his leg up, resting on both his knees now, and grabbed Steve’s cock for the first time. Steve groaned between gritted teeth as Tony spread the rest of the lube over his dick, then positioned that dick against his hole. Very slowly, Tony began to push down.
It stung a little. Steve was bigger than anything he’d taken before. But Tony relished it. He stopped only once, taking deep, shivery breaths, and focused on the feeling of Steve’s fingers drawing soothing circles on his ribs. He didn’t even think that Steve realized he was doing it, and that – more than anything – made Tony force himself to relax and keep sliding down the rest of the way, until he was seated on Steve’s thighs.
“You – you feel – god, Tony,” Steve said, and then, “Baby, you’re shaking.”
Tony laughed a little madly and squeezed his muscles; Steve made a choked sound. “I didn’t know it would feel like this,” he said in a moment of rare (or possible insane) honesty. Steve was so big and hard, but not hard like a dildo was. He couldn’t even put it into words. He just knew that he wanted this cock every morning for the rest of his life. Maybe every night, too.
“Wait, are you…”
The rest of Steve’s sentence died in a convulsive groan when Tony experimentally pushed himself up and then let gravity control the slide back down. He liked that response and did it again, watching Steve’s face carefully, varying the push up and down to figure out what Steve liked the best. It felt good, but it was harder than he’d expected to fuck himself on Steve’s cock. His thighs started to burn after only a couple of minutes.
Not that a little pain had ever stopped Tony before. He fucked himself harder, moaning when he slid down just right and Steve’s cockhead nudged his prostate. To his surprise, Steve stopped him from pushing back up. Tony looked down at him, panting, and then moaned again when Steve slowly circled his hips, grinding his cock into just the right place.
“Steve, fuck, right there,” he gasped out, clenching down just to see the way Steve shuddered. Tony leaned forward without thinking, bracing himself against the top of the chair, and that changed the angle a little too; he heard himself make a high whining sound.
Then Steve leaned up the last few inches to kiss him. It was hot and filthy, tongues and teeth, with Steve's hand in his hair and Tony rocking his hips hard. Steve's free hand wrapped around his cock, and oh that was playing dirty; Tony threw his arms around Steve's neck, needing something to ground him, and kissed Steve even harder as he came all over Steve's chest.
"Shit," Steve hissed into the kiss, turning it into something frantic that Tony was hard-pressed to keep up with, trailing kisses across Tony's cheek, down his jaw. "Shit, Tony -"
"Come on," Tony rasped. He clenched again and Steve moaned, a sweet sound, and trembled all over. His teeth latched onto Tony's neck, worrying at the skin, as he came. Tony dug his nails into Steve's shoulders, wincing, relaxing only when he felt Steve's tongue gently tracing over the bite mark in apology.
Steve ran his hands up Tony's back, slowly pulling away. He was sweating, his face flushed. "That was amazing."
"Good," Tony said, feeling a rush of satisfaction in the midst of his contentment. He shifted, squirming as Steve's cock slipped out of him, followed by a rush of come. "Ugh. I need a shower."
"Will the pool do?"
It would indeed. Tony inched his way into the shallow end, not appreciating the way Steve tried to splash him when he jumped in feet first. It turned into a an impromptu splashing fight that only ended when Steve cornered him against the wall and brought them both off: less frantic this time, their cocks in Steve's big hand, while they exchanged lazy kisses.
Tony was an idiot, yes. But, murders aside, he had a gorgeous, amazing boyfriend, so he was kind of okay with that.