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The Futurist

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When Tony went up to the roof that evening, he had been looking for some peace and quiet—some time to get his head in order after the events of the past couple days. And yet, when his eyes alighted on Steve Rogers, sitting on the edge of the roof with his feet dangling over the city below, Tony suddenly found he was glad for the company.

“Hey, Cap. Whatchya doing up here?”

Steve didn't jump or move like he was startled. Then again, Tony mused as he walked over to join him on the ledge, Steve probably heard his footsteps on the stairs before he even opened the roof-access door. Super-soldier, and all.

Once Tony dropped down next to him, legs dangling beside Steve's above the street below, he glanced over. Steve was holding a sketchbook—was sketching, actually. Just the view of the city, but-

“This is good!” Tony commented. He brushed his fingertips against the edge of the sketchbook, taking care not to ruin Steve's drawing. “Do you do this? A lot?”

Steve shrugged one beefy shoulder, tucking his pencil behind his ear at last and smiling over at Tony.

“Wanted to be an artist, before the war,” he confided.

“You? An artist?” Tony didn't mean it to sound so... shocked. But he was. Shocked, that was. He would have never guessed.

Steve didn't seem to take offense, though. He just smiled and shrugged. “Before the super-soldier serum. Wasn't much for a scrawny, sickly kid to do. Couldn't play with the other boys, wasn't smart enough to tinker-”

“That's a lie,” Tony cut in.

Their shoulders bumped against each other as Steve smiled. “Well then. Didn't have the disposition, I'll put it that way. But sketching...” One big hand moved to cover the sketch he had just been working on, thumb to pinkie almost reaching corner to corner. “I liked sketching. Lots of watching, figuring out the shape of things. That was something I was good at.”

Gently Tony pried the sketchbook from Steve's hands. After glancing up to make sure it was okay and receiving a smile and a nod, Tony started flipping through it. It was probably halfway full, of all sorts of different things. Cityscapes and vehicles, intricate little designs that Tony recognized as tech from his or Hank's lab. Food, furniture, and...

Avengers. Tony smiled as he flipped through page after page of sketches of the Avengers. Hank and Jan, curled up on the couch together. The Hulk and Clint playing cards. T'Challa, meditating cross-legged on the roof of his embassy. And even... even Tony. Lots of Tony, actually. Tony asleep, Tony working, Tony half-asleep but somehow still working.

Tony grinned as he took careful note of a picture of him from some morning, hair a mess and robe half-undone. One hand was wrapped around a mug of coffee, the other tracing shapes through the air, mucking through system diagnostics or news reports or whatever it had been that day. A sharp collarbone was peeking out from his robe, the edge of a shoulder visible. The arc reactor was carefully reproduced, scarring and all, throwing a whole different light source on the scene. With the way Steve had captured the light and the shadow, it somehow managed to make Tony look impossibly tired and incredibly alive, all at once.

“I shoulda seen it coming,” he murmured as he stared down at the page.

Gently Steve's hands wrapped around his, then slid down to the sketchbook as he pried it away.

“Stow that talk.” Tony's lips quirked up at Steve's 'Captain America' tone. “There's no way you could have predicted this.”

“But I'm a-”

“A futurist; I know.” Steve turned to Tony then, setting the sketchbook aside. “You know, I looked it up. 'Futurist'. When we got home a few hours ago.”

Tony smiled. Trust Steve to go and do research instead of decompress after saving the world. “Oh? What'd you find?”

“Basically what you told me. But more importantly, I can tell you what I didn't find.” Steve reached forward and placed a strong hand on Tony's shoulder. Tony sighed and pretended like he wasn't leaning into the touch, wasn't relaxing under it. “I didn't see anything anywhere saying that a futurist is supposed to predict the future with a hundred percent accuracy. And you know, I think I kind of like it that way.”

Tony's lips curled up in a sad, sardonic little smile. A tuft of hair hung over his eyes as he glanced up at Steve. “Why, so you can be surprised?”

Steve's hand squeezed at Tony's shoulder. Even though he was still smiling, even though he was still being the reassuring friend Tony already knew him as, Tony realized suddenly that there was worry in his eyes. Guilt. Maybe even fear. And suddenly Tony realized why Steve hoped he couldn't predict the future correctly. Not all the time.

Tony let Steve tell him anyway, let him put it in his own words. “Because if you haven't figured out how to predict the future perfectly with that smart-guy brain of yours, it might mean it can't be done. And maybe it means we can change it.” His hand slipped away from Tony's shoulder, to curl in with his under hand in his lap. “At least, I sure hope that's what it means. That we can change it.”

Tony moved then: tugged his legs back from over the edge and pulled them under himself. He scooted forward on his knees to Steve, close enough that their thighs were touching, so he could press his hands to both of Steve's shoulders and meet his eyes.

“Of course we can change it,” Tony said. “That's what being a futurist is all about. It's not just predicting the future: it's trying to make it a better place. It's trying to see solutions to problems that haven't happened yet. It's what I do. And the Avengers, what do we do?”

“Protect people,” Steve replied without hesitation.

“That's right. We protect people. We're going to protect everyone, Steve. Together, we won't ever let that future that Kang showed us happen. Together, we can change the future.”

Steve shrugged, smiling, but much too wobbly of a smile for Tony's tastes. Silently Tony cursed first Steve, then himself: Steve for being so damn stubborn, so damn old-fashioned, that he thought he couldn't talk about his worries with anyone else; and himself for not noticing how bothered Steve was by Kang's pontificating earlier. They should have had this talk hours ago.

So minutely Tony wasn't even sure if it had happened or if he was just imagining things, Steve moved forward, shifted towards Tony. “You wouldn't have to if I wasn't here, though. What if-”

“If the next three words out of your mouth are going to be 'Kang was right,' you can stop right there,” Tony interrupted.

Steve smirked, but didn't seem convinced.

Fumbling forward, Tony grabbed for Steve's hands, pulled them into his lap. Squeezed them tight. Damn it, he didn't know what he was doing, had no clue how to go about this whole comfort thing... but he was going to try. For Steve.

He'd try anything for Steve.

“You belong here,” Tony promised. He brought Steve's hands to his chest, pressed them against the arc reactor there. “You belong here, with me. I... I couldn't imagine the Avengers without you.”

Steve's lips parted slightly, his eyes flickering down, then back up. “Just the Avengers?”

Tony's eyes widened, but he recovered quickly. He had never thought- Never dared to hope- But with the way Steve was looking at him: all worry and hope, sorrow and happiness, strength and desire to let go, to lean on Tony... Tony was a futurist. He could see where this was going. And even if he could change the future, even if he could fulfill all the promises he just made to Steve, well. This was one future he wasn't going to try and stop from happening.

“And me, Steve,” Tony replied. “Of course me. I look to the future so much, I never thought what I needed might be from the past. But it is, Steve. I need you. Of course I need you.”

“Am...” And then Steve, Steve Rogers hesitated, and Tony grinned, bold and bright. Steve's eyes flickered down again, to Tony's lips, then back up to meet his eyes. Keeping his mouth shut for once, Tony waited for Steve to press ahead. His thumbs stroked lightly at the backs' of Steve's hands.

“Am I reading this right? I'm not sure... Nowadays...”

“It's okay,” Tony teased. “I'm used to being the one to barrel ahead.” And then, because Steve was still looking like he might call it off as a bad miscalculation, Tony tugged Steve forward and kissed him.

Steve kissed back immediately, mouth opening to Tony's and perfect posture going loose beneath him. Tony grinned into the kiss, almost laughed, because... He had never thought this was possible. Never realized this might be a possibility, that Steve might be interested in him the same way he was. Some futurist he was.

Still grinning, grinning so hard he was messing up the kiss, was biting down on Steve's tongue and doing it all wrong but wow he so did not care, Tony extracted Steve's hands from his and crawled into his lap. Steve laughed into the kiss before wrapping his newly-freed hands around Tony, pulling him in tight.

It was fast and messy, and not exactly how Tony might have planned it. Steve at least had the foresight to move them off the ledge and tuck pencil and sketchbook away before both men undid their pants and started thrusting against each other in earnest. Tony was content to roll his hips against Steve and cling tight to his shoulders with both hands, letting Steve do all the work. Steve took them both in hand, stroked their lengths against each other with no more lube than some spit and precome. His other hand was clutching tight to Tony's waist, arm wrapped firm around his back. Tony kissed Steve into oblivion and rode out his happiness with reckless abandon for what might come next.

In the end, there wasn't enough slickness to ease the friction, and the wind coming from the city had a chill to it, but the moment when Steve came apart beneath him and whispered quiet praises against his hair was as close to perfect as Tony could ever imagine a moment being.

And he could imagine a lot. He was a futurist, after all.