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Dream A Little Dream Of Me

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Sweet dreams till sunbeams find you

Sweet dreams that leave all worries far behind you

But in your dreams, whatever they be

Dream a little dream of me.

— Ella Fitzgerald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Steve walked into his motel room that night, his body felt worn and his muscles trembled with how much they’d changed. It wasn’t painful, exactly, it was just a little overwhelming. He was too big, his shoulders too broad, his limbs too long. It was hard to control his movements. Whenever he touched something, it creaked beneath his fingers as if it was a second away from breaking in two.

Aside from the physical changes, Steve’s mind was stuck on replay. Despite the fact that he’d been preparing for Project Rebirth for weeks, everything had happened awfully fast. Every time Steve closed his eyes, he saw the scene again. He heard every word, felt every breath Erskine had left on his face as he’d whispered his last words, relived every second and was no better off for it.

In the grand scheme of things, everything had worked just as Erskine and Stark had hoped it would. And still, Steve wasn’t enough. Colonel Phillips had said as much. He wouldn’t let Steve go after Schmidt, wouldn’t let him join the fight on the front lines.

At the end of the day, Steve was back where he had started. And while he was grateful for the opportunity Senator Brandt was giving him, serving his country by doing fund-raising shows, he knew it wasn’t all he could do.

It wasn’t all he should do.

The guy that called himself ‘Red Skull’ killed innocents out there. And he planned something that could pose a real threat to the whole world. He’d made a career out of it, of sacrificing many to gain what he wanted, and evidently, it was just the start of something even more horrifying.

And Steve—he was strong now. Before Erskin, he’d never faced a man, other than Bucky, that he had a chance of beating in a one on one fight. And Bucky—well, if Steve was honest to himself, he supposed Bucky had let him win most of the time, just to spare him the humiliation.

Now, though, Steve was strong. Way strong. Stronger than any man he’d ever faced. Heck, Steve was halfway convinced he could take it on with a whole dozen of enemies right now, and still come out alive on the other side. His muscles vibrated with power, his heart was going a mile per minute, and he felt the urge to run, to move, to breathe—finally taking big gulps of air without any hindrance.

It was as exhilarating as it was frightening. This new body was very obviously meant to fight, to endure the heaviest strain, the longest exertion. And yet, he was sitting here, in this slightly run-down motel room, doing absolutely nothing.

Steve supposed his new strength wasn’t easily explained. Colonel Phillips had the notion in his head that a single man couldn’t possibly cause any change—and moreover, that Steve was a failed experiment and nothing more.

A small voice in Steve’s mind, the part of him that still felt far too small for a body this big, was inclined to agree.

Steve shivered hard and shook his head at his dark thoughts, sitting down onto the worn mattress of his motel room bed. It squeaked with how heavy he was. Wincing, Steve checked if he’d broken something—again—but everything seemed to be intact.

Things would look better tomorrow, he thought as he changed into his pyjama pants. Brandt would accompany him to Washington where he’d be doing his first show under the identity of Captain America. And once his shoulders stopped aching and his heart didn’t throb with pain every time he closed his eyes and saw Erskine dying in his arms, he could find his hope again.

Steve stared at the empty wall of the little room, and loneliness cursed through his body that threatened to choke him. There had been many lows in his life: The many times he’d almost died during childhood, the day his mother had received the death notification of his father, or the day his mother had died of tuberculosis.

He’d survived all of that, if just barely. He’d survived, because Bucky had always been by his side.

Now, he was alone, and he felt it with every fibre of his being. There was no one there to share all of this weight with. No one.

A heavy sigh trembled through Steve’s lips, as he closed his eyes and let sleep carry him away. And wished—wished fiercely—for his words to be true: There had to be some meaning to his life. This couldn’t be it.

It couldn’t be.

 

* * *

 

Steve stopped in his tracks, momentarily confused at where he was, and—more importantly—where he’d come from.

“What,” he breathed, turning around in confusion. He remembered walking through a door, and now he stood in what appeared to be another, much larger motel room.

The room was strange. That was the first thought running through Steve’s head. For one, there was a bed that was twice as huge as the largest bed Steve had ever seen. Its frame consisted of a metallic frame that was bent into an odd looking shape. The sheets looked smooth and thin, almost gloomy, and there were about eight different pillows stacked at its head. Above the bed, a painting hung on the wall. Steve frowned as he took a brief look at it. There was a bright blue, abstract form on the canvas, something he’d never seen in any kind of museum.

The whole room felt… it felt off. Steve couldn’t put a finger on it, but it wasn’t something he was familiar with. It looked luxurious, and everything had some kind of sleek elegance to it, even the wooden easel in the far-end corner, but it all looked so strange—the whole, giant space, and Steve felt a cold shiver running up his spine.

Where was he?

When his eyes landed on the bed once more, Steve realized there was a man lounging on its surface.

“Oh hello, handsome,” the man said, his brown eyes sparkling as he looked Steve up and down.

There was a man in a fine-looking suit. And Steve was almost sure he hadn’t been there a minute before. What on earth was going on here?

“What is this?” Steve demanded.

“Uh…” The man looked around, frowning. He waved a dismissive hand at the room. “Should be the Four Seasons, I’m guessing.”

Steve didn’t know any motel that was called ‘Four Seasons’, but he was very sure this wasn’t the same rundown motel he’d gone to bed in.

Steve stood frozen as he regarded the man. He looked to be his age, maybe a bit younger—sharp features, slim figure, bold facial hair, and bright-red sunglasses that somehow looked even stranger than the whole room in itself.

“Been a while since I dreamed of a guy,” the man said, smirking at Steve as he let his eyes rake up and down over Steve’s body. “But hey, you’re quite the eye-candy.”

Steve fought the feeling to glance over his shoulder guiltily. They were alone, but still. Shouldn’t the man know that flirting like this could get them into real trouble really fast?

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, I think you heard me, hot stuff,” was the only thing the man said, and it had Steve huff an annoyed breath.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Tony,” the man replied, and instead of asking for Steve’s name, he kept smiling at him in a way that could only be described as lewd.

“And you’re here, why?”

The man—Tony—shrugged, as he sat up a bit to unbutton and slide off his suit jacket. He loosened his tie somewhat before settling down again. “It’s my dream,” he retorted. “I have a habit of turning up in my dreams.”

Steve blinked in surprise. Then he shook his head hard. “Excuse me, your dream?”

Tony’s brow furrowed. “Well,” he said. “Yeah? I don’t remember much of last night, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t score a sexy hunk like you. So it’s obviously my dream.”

A dream. That would make a lot of sense, and it’d explain the strange-looking interior of the room. Steve’s fantasy had always had a mind of its own. The question remained why Steve would dream of a guy like this. The man was irritating, and downright obscene, not to mention that he was treading on very illegal grounds and didn’t seem to care all that much.

Why would he dream of someone like that? There sure as heck were other troubles on his mind right now.

“Why can’t it be my dream?”

“I…” Tony stopped, frowning. “You know, my sex-fantasies don’t usually ask that many questions. Come on, I’m me,” he waved a hand at himself, and Steve had no idea what that supposed to mean, “and you—you’re a walking Adonis, so I think it’s safe to say this isn’t your dream.”

“What?” Steve asked a bit dumbly. It was so strange that anyone would find him remotely attractive. It was then that he noticed that he was wearing his pyjama pants and a shirt that was admittedly way too tight for his new body. Still. It didn’t justify how hard that man was hitting on him. “This doesn’t make any sense. I shouldn’t be here.”

The man huffed, clearly more than bit annoyed now. His long, slender fingers stroked his weirdly groomed chin in mock-thought. “Great. Isn’t that a real ball-buster? Last week wasn’t shitty enough, is that it? No, now my sex-fantasy is having a crisis of faith. You’re my wet dream, darling, you’re supposed to be naked by now, not discuss your issues with me.”

All right, Steve thought grimly. No matter what—no matter that Steve was standing in the middle of what had to be an illusion, speaking to a man who clearly couldn’t be real—Steve refused to be talked to this way. “Then you should learn to live with disappointment. And don’t call me ‘darling’, I’m not… like that.”

It wasn’t strictly true. Steve had more or less always been attracted to both dames and gents, but with the war raging on, it wasn’t something he gave much thought to. It wasn’t important, and in any case, even if he would consider men like that, Tony clearly wasn’t someone who would have something to do with Steve. He was wearing an obviously very expensive suit, with an even more expensive watch at his wrist and sharp-looking features.

He was so far out of Steve’s reach, it wasn’t something he even needed to consider.

His words, however, clearly surprised Tony. He blinked, then stared at Steve as if he only now saw him. His eyes burned while sizing him up—and good Lord, if this was a dream it sure all felt very real.

“That’s… odd,” Tony concluded.

“You could call it that,” Steve said, and finally moved away from his spot in the corner of this room.

The dream had to be the serum messing with his head. Some kind of side effect Erskine hadn’t foreseen. And that meant it wasn’t real. And temporary. It was only some post-injection dream, starring a man who was everything Steve knew he could never have. It was his mind telling him how lost he felt right now. Not really much to figure out there. No matter how tangible it looked or felt, Tony and this motel room, they were about as real as Santa Claus.

Which meant that it was safe to say and do whatever he wanted.

The thought had something inside of him stir to life.

It was a dream, not his dreary reality.

“On the other hand,” Tony said, bringing Steve back to the present. “Maybe you just need a bit of persuasion. I was told I can be very persuasive, and… you’re every bit the kind of guy I’d want, so…” He trailed off and wiggled his brows at Steve. The gesture was more goofy than suggestive, but Steve didn’t let his amusement show.

“And why do you think I’d want you?” he countered. Since this was a dream, he figured he didn’t have to beat around the bush, didn’t have to control, which words left his mouth and which better didn’t.

Steve didn’t know why, but a shadow fell over Tony’s face at that. “Simple. You’re my fantasy and you’ll do what I tell you.” He paused and ran those sinful eyes over Steve’s body in a way that had Steve twitching and feeling very much aware of his new body. “Come here.”

Steve stopped, but made sure not to let his uncertainty show. “I’ll not let you order me around,” he retorted, crossing his arms, his body wound tighter than Steve had ever remembered.

Tony huffed. “You’re a stubborn one, hm? Fine with me.” He cast him a crooked grin. “I think I like some spunk in you. You know… both figuratively and literally.”

That brought a fierce blush to Steve’s cheeks. “You’re impertinent.”

“Hello.” Tony waved at himself, his eyes sparkling darkly. “I’m me.”

“Yeah. And you are not the first arrogant jerk I’ve come across,” Steve retorted. “You think I’m gonna let you smart-off ‘cause this is a dream, don’cha?”

Tony shrugged again and stood up from the bed, stretching slightly. The way he was presenting himself was obviously intended and Steve did his very best to ignore both of it. The guy was attractive enough without focusing on specific body parts—like his bowed back, or the slim legs, or his… very pert ass.

Dammit.

“Usually my bed partners like that about me,” Tony said as he glanced at Steve. He bent down to reach for a tumbler that stood on the nightstand. Steve wasn’t sure if it had been there before, but then again, it was a dream. “Of course, there’s other things I can do with my mouth.”

“I won’t… do that… with you,” Steve said, swallowing his tongue with how awkward he sounded.

“Well, your choice,” Tony answered matter-of-factly. “Once this dream is over, I’ll already have the next chit at the ready. And there’s always the one after that. The possibilities never end for me, see. That’s the one good thing about being who I am.” He took another, much longer sip, and Steve noticed he didn’t even flinch as he swallowed the alcohol down.

Tony walked a few steps, and leaned against the wall, his eyes flickering to the window, before he looked back at Steve. His eyes raked over his body again, and those were definitely not shudders racing down Steve’s spine.

Steve knew he should feel insulted at everything that had left Tony’s lips so far, but somehow, he didn’t care all that much. All of this couldn’t be real, and what good would it do him to argue with a man his own imagination had come up with?

Instead, he might as well do what it offered.

“I can see why people would want to be with you,” he said, forcing the words out of his lips before he could think too much about it.

Tony raised a brow, and Steve felt a jolt of satisfaction rush through him that he could surprise a man like him. “You’re really something, mystery-man,” Tony said with a far more genuine smile. His eyes raked over Steve’s face, over his hair, down to his shirt. “A bit old-fashioned maybe, but definitely something.”

Steve rolled his eyes. “And what would you have me do?”

The smile broadened. “That’s the beauty of it: It’s a dream. Just do whatever you want… You could start with freeing yourself of that cotton horror, but that’s just my two cents.” Tony pointed at Steve’s pyjama pants. And damn if he wasn’t the most infuriating jackass Steve had ever met. His words really should inspire revulsion—not exhilaration. Steve should be clenching his fists in rage, not feeling himself stiffen at Tony’s intense stare.

A small, pitiful breath tickled Steve’s throat. That was definitely a downside to realistic dreams. He’d never been so aroused while sleeping. “So what’s it?” he asked, his voice hoarse. “You want to sleep with me—”

“Very much.”

“You’re not exactly my type,” Steve lied, maybe just to rile him up a little.

Tony, however, just grinned again, damn him. He hated that grin. And he sort of wanted to kiss it off his face. “Ow,” Tony said, slapping a hand to his heart. He held Steve’s gaze a moment longer, before he put the tumbler back down on the table and walked over. It was the first time he was within arm-length, and Steve lightly bit his lower lip when he got a whiff of Tony’s aftershave.

Of course he would smell good, Steve thought, trying not to show how much of an allure Tony had on him.

Now that he was so close, Steve realized that Tony was much smaller than him—which was so confusing. Steve almost couldn’t get the thought around his head, knowing he was taller than most people now. But Tony only raised his chin high, staring Steve down despite their height difference.

“I can see why I would dream of you,” he said, his voice strangely soft as his eyes did the vertical dance once more. “I always preferred people with fight in them.”

“You’re a walking cliché, aren’t you?”

Tony shook his head, unbothered. “Clichés are boring, don’t you think? I’m much more interesting.”

“My mind must be a mess for thinking up someone like you,” Steve said, staring down at Tony. He was so close now, he could freely touch his perfect, fine-looking dress shirt. Somehow, he had the urge to rough him up a little. “But I can’t say my life has been easy lately, so this is a… welcoming distraction.”

“I’ll be your distraction if you’re mine,” Tony murmured with a private smile, as if he understood him perfectly. And he was close. Christ, he was so close. Another step, and his chest would be against Steve’s. And perhaps because Steve knew it was a dream, he didn’t fight or step back. No one saw them here; no one would know what he secretly wanted. So he didn’t attempt to regain the space Tony’d stolen. The cold he’d felt in the lonely, shady motel room was gone. Tony was standing right in front of him, and damn if he didn’t smell as good as any man Steve had ever fantasized about.

“I can make you feel so good,” Tony repeated, running his index finger over Steve’s shirt. “You never did this before, did you?”

His throat was suddenly hoarse. “Why would you think so?”

A pause. When he spoke again, Tony’s mouth was right at his ear. “You look too pure to be real. And anyway, this is my dream, remember?”

Steve shivered. “Maybe it’s my dream, and you’re just here to teach me a few things.”

Tony stopped. Then laughed softly. “What about that? You’re not supposed to sass me, Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes.”

“Then you should probably dream of someone else.”

“But I don’t wanna dream of someone else,” Tony replied with an easy shrug. “I like to have you here, with me.”

“It’s just a dream,” Steve reminded him.

“All the more reason to enjoy you.” With that, Tony took that last step forward, and then his chest was firmly pressed against Steve’s chest, and something hard against Steve’s thighs. A flood of heat pooled in his middle, and all at once, Steve felt very hot and very hard himself.

“I could make you beg for it,” Tony purred, and if Steve thought he’d acted lewdly before, he clearly had underestimated Tony. He was all downright seduction now. “Think you’ll like me more when I’m fucking my mouth on you? When I’ll let you spread me on your fingers? When I’ll rub my hole till it’ll open up for you?”

Oh. Dear. Lord. Steve was definitely bright red now. He was really doing this, blushing like a schoolgirl, because of some crass words. In his own dream. In front of a hallucination.

But could anyone blame him? He felt more than just a little lightheaded. Tony moved against him as he spoke, rubbing what had to be his erection into the space between Steve’s thighs and gently ran his hands up and down Steve’s arms.

And Steve was whole-heartedly responding to him.

I shouldn’t want this, a tiny voice in Steve’s head told him. They say it’s not right.

“I’ll bring you to the edge so many times,” Tony went on, “you’ll be crying for more.”

Steve swallowed. Hard. “You wish.”

“Oh it’s a promise, not a wish. I’ll take you so deep inside, you won’t ever forget me again.”

Somehow, that wasn’t so hard to believe at all.

Tony leaned in, and Steve’s hands flew instinctively to his forearms, his hips arching upward with foreign need. He was on fire—he was burning in ways he’d never burned before. And Tony was there. Tony’s mouth was on his throat. He moaned into Steve’s skin, evidently tossing whatever he’d been ready to say out the proverbial window and instead decided to drive Steve even crazier than he had already. His tongue licked along his neck, swirling around before he sucked down.

This was all so weird and Steve needed more of it. He needed Tony to strip his pants off and feel the hardness between his legs. He needed him to do something to ease the fire he’d set loose in Steve’s body. He needed—

“Come on, Adonis.”

He needed Tony to say his name.

And perhaps because he knew it was just a dream—that everything around him would return to normal the second he opened his eyes—Steve just stopped caring. He stopped caring altogether. It wasn’t real. He couldn’t be blamed for something that wasn’t real. No one could put him into prison for dreaming about another man. For doing something in his mind while he slept.

He couldn’t be blamed for wanting to kiss a man in here.

So he fisted Tony’s hair and dragged him away from his throat, ignoring the whimper of protest that tumbled through Tony’s lips. “It’s Steve,” he told him firmly. “My name is Steve.” With that, he pressed his lips to Tony’s mouth. And immediately, any sliver of doubt that this wasn’t a dream was banished, because there was no way any man could ever taste this good. Tony was sin and decadence; he was lust and fire. He tasted of cigarettes and whisky, of everything Steve had always thought he’d never want.

Tony groaned, sucking Steve’s lower lip into his mouth. “Steve,” he said and was almost vibrating in Steve’s arms, and he felt and tasted so real.

“Exactly.” His tongue stroked Tony’s with fire he’d never felt before. Certainly not with the one single girl he’d kissed behind their church in Brooklyn. Not from anyone. Tony blew every expectation out of his head, and he knew without doubt that he’d never feel this again. Not in reality.

It might be wrong, but it was a dream. It was only a dream. Dreams weren’t real.

Then something happened. Something that stole the dream from his fingertips. There was a knock, insistent and very loud. It resounded in Steve’s mind over and over again and while he tried to ignore it at first, at some point, he couldn’t.

He opened his eyes, and with that, Tony was gone. The strange luxurious room had vanished, leaving him cold and alone in his own bed.

Steve had never been so disappointed to wake up from a dream in all his life.

 

* * *

 

Steve spent the next day driving to Washington. In the evening, they had their first of many test runs for the big USO opening and it left him with a hollow ache in his chest. The whole thing was awkward, and he was too tense, only barely managing to read his text from where he had pinned it to the brass-shield he’d been carrying.

But it wasn’t the awkwardness that had left him with a bad taste in his mouth. It was the fact that this was all he’d do now… act as if he’d punch Hitler in the face, do promotional film reels, smile at the cameras, instead of actually going out there and helping people.

They’d booked another motel room for him this night. It was even one of the nicer ones, with clean linen sheets and a radio on the small table next to a reading chair. When Steve walked into the bathroom, holding his toothbrush under the water, his mind kept drifting off. He brushed his teeth, but his thoughts were far away. Only two days ago, he’d thought that maybe he could make a difference. That he, and the many other super soldiers could bring this war to an end, right the many wrongs out there, but now he… didn’t know which way to turn.

Bucky was somewhere on the front lines, and he’d be wearing tights, playing the hero.

And then there was that dream, of a man he’d kissed. Willingly. He’d thought ignoring all of this wouldn’t be a problem. He liked girls—and Peggy was like no one he’d ever met before, strong, wilful, independent. And yet…

It might be a problem now.

Groaning, Steve spit the remaining toothpaste into the sink. How a single, random dream could throw him off like that was beyond him. There were other things to worry about. He needed to stop thinking about Tony, it hadn’t been real, and tomorrow was another test show, so he should be concentrating on that.

Lying down in his oddly comfortable bed, Steve closed his eyes. He recited his Captain America speech a few times before his fatigue took over.

 

* * *

 

He really didn’t know how to react when he closed his eyes and found himself in the strange room again. He’d never had the same dream twice before, and every detail was exactly the same.

The interior, the light, the smell of the air, and—

Tony.

Tony was sitting in front of him. He sat on the huge bed and looked just as irritated as Steve felt.

That was impossible, wasn’t it? The day had left Steve little more than tired and confused, and the night wasn’t looking to be any better. He had spent a lot of time trying to understand his encounter with Tony. The underlying meaning, but unsurprisingly, his efforts were to little avail. And now, he really wasn’t sure how to react. Tony was here again, and it was the exact same motel room, down to the abstract, colourful painting on the wall.

“That’s a joke, right?” Tony asked, his body tight with tension. “We’re back here again? Do you remember last night?”

Steve really didn’t want to think more about what had happened last night, but he couldn’t forget it either. Tony was there, and dream or not, it was definitely the same Tony he’d kissed only hours ago.

And the fire he’d ignited in his body had yet to fade.

Steve licked his lips and awkwardly shifted his weight from one foot to the other. “I remember.”

That was all he said. Silence stretched between them.

“So, this is… odd,” Tony said, and cleared his throat. “I think I said that already. Maybe it’s kind of a déjà vu dream, huh?”

He looked over his shoulder to the nightstand, and got up on his feet when he saw the same tumbler with the same amount of liquid in it. There was visible relief on his face. When he turned around, Steve briefly spotted a few bad cuts and scrapes on Tony’s knuckles.

Steve was about to open his mouth and ask what had happened, when a long sigh rolled off Tony’s shoulders and he collapsed wearily against the wall. “Or I’m losing my mind.”

“What do you mean?”

Tony glanced at him. “I have no idea, I’m not a shrink. Maybe you’re my way of dealing with J’s death, or I just really need to get laid again, what would I know.”

“Who’s J?” Steve asked, though he had a feeling Tony wouldn’t be the kind of guy to share his feelings. And he was right, his expression closed off immediately.

Only then, Steve realized that Tony was wearing a traditional funeral suit, with a solid black tie, and a white shirt beneath. It could be a coincidence, of course, but something in Tony’s stature told Steve it wasn’t.

“Let’s just sit here until I wake up, yeah?” Tony asked quietly.

Steve nodded, though he really didn’t know how he was supposed to deal with all of this. Last night, Tony had all but rocked his foundation. Tony had made him want this. It hadn’t felt like a dream, or a fantasy, though of course—it had to be.

His life was beyond screwed up.

The night went on encompassed in complete silence. Tony sat on the edge of the bed with his back to Steve, while he took a seat in the reading chair. Tony’s shoulders were tense, head down, fingers wringing together. Occasionally, he’d nip from his glass, but didn’t speak again. They just sat, not looking at each other.

There was nothing to do but wait for the day to tug him back to a reality that made sense.

 

* * *

 

The dreams continued like that for days. He lived his life, travelling from one USO show to another, giving interviews, shooting promotional photos, knowing Tony waited for him at night. Sometimes they spoke, sometimes they sat, divided by an awkward silence.

Steve could tell Tony was just as unnerved about all of this as Steve himself. This wasn’t normal by any means. Dreaming about the same person was one thing, but having that person remember the dreams in great detail, it was… impossible.

And yet, there Tony was. Clearly a figment of his imagination, and yet strangely real.

A week in, Tony had a little meltdown, yelling at the room and trashing a bit of furniture. They both had realized early on that leaving the room wasn’t much of an option. They’d simply find themselves walking through a door, only to reappear on the other side of the room. Outside the windows, it was always the same scenery: New York by night, though Steve had noted that his dream-memory of the skyline wasn’t quite as accurate. A few buildings didn’t look right, but then again, it supposedly didn’t matter.

The next night, they had entered the room again, and the wooden easel Tony had smashed against the wall repeatedly stood once again in the corner, fully intact.

“This is crazy,” Tony had murmured, staring at Steve in question.

Steve had only shrugged, and sat down in the reading chair. It was crazy and there was nothing he could say that’d make Tony feel better.

Whenever he’d tried, Tony had brushed him off with harsh words and angry eyes, so Steve knew better than to try again.

Of course, Steve never mentioned his dreams to anyone. The men and women he went on stage with were nice enough lads, but Steve wouldn’t know what to tell them, anyway. The dreams, strange as they were, were his. Completely his. And he wasn’t in the mood to share.

So he lived as though nothing had changed. In the day, he would jog around the various cities and train in the gyms that Senator Brandt allowed him to go to. In the evenings, Steve did his little show and told everyone how very much the world was doomed unless he, as Captain America, stopped the rising of so-and-so. The routine repeated itself every day until nightfall. Until Steve sneaked a peek at the fading sun through the nearest window, stood up and told the USO girls he was calling it a night, and disappeared until the next morning.

He and Tony would sit next to each other, wrapped in tensed silence. It was all stuck on repeat—every single night.

Every night leading up to the USO tour in Italy.

 

* * *

 

That night, it took forever to fall asleep.

Adrenaline was still spiking through Steve’s veins, and the battle with Johann Schmidt was on constant replay in his mind. He had freed Bucky—had managed to find his still-alive friend against all odds, and now, he could finally do what he had always wanted to do.

He could help people. He could make the world a little safer.

The way Peggy had looked at him had made Steve feel insanely proud and from what Colonel Phillips had told him afterwards, Steve understood that they wanted him to find a team and hunt Schmidt down. They had talked well into the night, with the others drinking some self-brewed liquor Jim Morita had brought with him. And much later, he and Bucky had shared a few stories on how their lives had been in the last months.

Bucky, of course, almost only asked questions about the USO girls—and Peggy. He wanted to know if he’d kissed her, what she’d said in what order, and while Steve felt himself blushing a little, his thoughts kept drifting back to the man in his dreams.

Tony would already be waiting for him.

It couldn’t be helped though. He hadn’t seen Bucky in so long, and Tony didn’t speak with him anyway. Thus, it was almost morning when Steve felt his eyes drop. He hadn’t even managed to change out of his uniform, when the air split. The blurred objects in the room formed shape, and he found himself slammed into the door behind him with an angry Tony pressed to his front.

“What—”

“You think you can just do that?” Tony snapped with palpable anger in his eyes. “You let me wait here for hours! I thought something happened—”

“Not that it matters,” Steve ground out, “but you’re the one who never talks to m—”

“You’re a dream! You’re not supposed to argue with me, goddammit!” Tony let go of him, and took a step back.

Steve blinked. It occurred to him that this was the first time Tony wasn’t wearing one of his suits. Instead, he wore sweatpants with lots of holes and oil stains and a black tank top. His hair wasn’t perfectly groomed as usual, either, but actually looked a lot like Tony had been sleeping on it for once.

He looked so good Steve stared at him dumbly for several minutes.

“What the hell are you wearing?” Tony asked when he’d turned around to Steve once more. His brows were raised up high.

Steve looked down at himself, at his brown pants, his tattered leather jacket and the blue shirt with the white star beneath.

“I’ve been busy,” he said evasively. “Didn’t really have the time to change.”

“Busy,” Tony echoed. “And with what? Helping little grannies over the street?”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I had to step out today,” Steve explained, fully aware that they had never really shared any personal information before. Tony didn’t know he was in the army. “I’m at the front lines.”

Tony huffed a hollow laugh and rubbed his eyes with a hand. “Do you even hear yourself? You can’t be busy, you can’t be fighting anywhere, you’re my… I’m dreaming about you, why should I…”

It was then when his eyes zeroed in on the white star on his shirt, and Steve thought his eyes almost bogged out.

“Oh that makes sense, of course,” Tony said, a bit hysterical all of a sudden, and Steve had genuinely no idea what he was talking about. “You’re… you’re supposed to be him, yes? I’m dreaming up a Captain America lookalike, that’s—that’s very creative, Tony, really. Dad would be so proud, you know, if he’d still been alive.”

His hands wandered into his hair, roughing up the already messy black locks. “I can’t believe myself. I haven’t thought about you in years, and now you’re haunting my every night. Why didn’t I see this, you look exactly like him. I should’ve realized it’s you.” His eyes wandered over Steve’s face and he kept shaking his head.

What was going on here?

“I have… absolutely no idea what you’re talking about, Tony.”

It wasn’t out of the question that Tony might have heard of Captain America before, his face was on posters all over the country at this point, but Steve had no idea why it made him so angry.

“What’s your name?” Tony asked.

Steve frowned. Tony knew his name. “Steve,” he said, and only when Tony raised his brows in question, he added, “Rogers.”

“And ‘Grant’ is your middle name, yeah?”

Steve frowned. That was… how could Tony know his middle name? Although… that was a stupid thought, of course. Tony wasn’t real. He was a figment of his own darn imagination. Of course he’d know Steve’s middle name. Tony was basically a product of his own mind, and he really ought to remember that.

“I don’t know what my name has to do with anything.”

Tony’s expression darkened even further. “You know what,” he snapped, and neared Steve like a leopard on the hunt. “For once, I completely agree with you.”

With that, he closed the space between them, and pushed himself against Steve. With his whole body. Apparently, Tony had absolutely no qualms about grinding his middle against Steve’s crotch. It seemed he made sure that Steve felt every inch of his body against him.

“Tony…” Steve warned, but it was without any heat. Ever since their first encounter a couple of weeks ago, he kept thinking about their kiss. And no matter what Tony was ranting about, Steve knew perfectly well that all of this wasn’t real—not when he was truly lying on some hard cot on the front lines of a horrible war.

So he might as well give into it when Tony offered.

Steve held his breath. One of Tony’s knees had found its way between his thighs and his cock was rubbing intimately against Steve’s clothes. His brown eyes were wide and blazing with an addictive symphony of anger drenched in lust.

“You like that, Captain?” Tony purred. “To know how hard I am for you?”

God, if he got any harder, his pants would melt right off. “Oh heck…”

“’Oh heck’?” Tony echoed. “You even talk like him. The star-spangled man with a plan, huh? You’ve got any plans for tonight?”

His eyes met Steve’s just briefly before his hand came to play, reaching between them and opening the buttons of Steve’s pants.

A bizarre mixture of exhilaration and shock raced through Steve’s veins. “It’s not real,” he whispered to himself, his voice trembling. He lifted his palm to Tony’s cheek, his insides heating when Tony reluctantly raised his head to meet his eyes. And what he saw there—the anger conflicted with specks of awe and wonder—was enough to make him weak in the knees. “I’m dreaming.”

“Sure you are, Cap,” Tony replied.

There was something in Tony’s eyes that he’d never seen before. It looked as if for some reason, he wanted to hate this, but couldn’t.

The moment disappeared on the next beat, and left only angered lust in its wake. Tony grunted, biting at Steve’s lips before freeing his cock with clever fingers.

“The great Captain America,” Tony said against Steve’s lips, “waiting to drive me crazy.”

“I don’t—”

“I’ll let you fuck me, but I won’t let you drive me nuts. You can’t make me forget how you made my whole life a living hell.”

Steve’s frowned, too irritated now to let this go any further. Beneath his crass demeanour, Tony had always seemed strangely fragile, as if he was only protecting himself with his flashy attitude, and Steve had always had a hard time taking his words serious. Now, though, he sounded as if his words came directly from his heart. So Steve’s hands settled on Tony’s shoulders and he shoved him back a bit. “What are you talking about?”

“Apparently I can’t walk away from this,” Tony breathed. He yanked Steve’s shirt up a bit, until his naked chest was momentarily exposed to his hungry, conflicted eyes. “And we can’t…” he continued, fingers tracing a trail up his abdomen. “We can’t just pretend like this isn’t happening.”

“It’s not,” Steve fired back. His sanity depended on that knowledge. This wasn’t real. None of it was. It wasn’t happening. There was no place on this earth in which he’d find himself so intimately close to another man. This wasn’t real. It couldn’t be.

“Oh, but it is, and now, I’ll make good use of it.”

“Tony—”

“You want me, Captain?” Tony asked. He bit at Steve’s lips again. “You wanna fuck me? Or do you like it the other way around, hm? Like to go on your knees and—”

“Not like this,” Steve said firmly, hating himself for not having shoved Tony off long ago. He wasn’t a weak leaf of a thing anymore; he was Captain America. More importantly: He was Steve Rogers. And he wasn’t the sort of man who cowered under bullies. “None of it.”

“What is it you want, Captain?” Tony demanded. “You come here every night, looking as innocent as a freaking angel. That will stop now.”

Steve’s body tightened with weariness. “What do you—Tony!”

Words left him as Tony suddenly fell on his knees right before him. He didn’t wait a second, didn’t give Steve any time to think, before he opened his mouth and took Steve between his lips.

He closed his mouth around the tip, sucking on it briefly before letting go again. “Might as well have some fun,” he drawled, “Seeing as this is my dream and all.”

A long moan ripped through the air, when Tony shoved his mouth so deep onto Steve’s cock that Steve felt his head brushing the back of Tony’s throat. Steve’s hands trembled with a combination of self-loathing and arousal. His hands were on Tony’s shoulders—he could’ve stopped this moments ago. Tony’s body was muscled enough, but they both knew he wouldn’t stand a chance against Steve’s strength. And yet… this wasn't something he’d felt before. Nothing even close to this. Tony was swirling his tongue around him, before pushing his mouth so far down on him as it would go. A hand had busied itself with Steve’s testicles and it was damn hard to form a decent thought.

The part of Steve determined to keep his heart out of this pseudo-reality had apparently quit on him, and everything became painstakingly real. The feel of his erection pushing into Tony’s mouth, the hot whimpers tearing off his own lips, and the humiliating way his body responded.

The moment Tony had fallen down on his knees, Steve had been ready to push him off.  His arms weren’t pinned. He could have Tony back on his feet in a blink. He could give him a stern lecture within an inch of his arrogant ass.

He could. And he would. At some point.

For now, his hands remained where they were, and instead of shoving Tony off, he let his fingers brush over the mob of his dark curls.

“You like this?” Tony rasped, when he let go of Steve momentarily. He looked up at him, and the sight of him kneeling, looking as debauched as he did, had Steve’s knees tremble hard. “You like me sucking you?”

Before Steve could answer, Tony’s tongue poked out to caress the underside of Steve’s cock. It was, admittedly, the single most indescribable sensation Steve had ever experienced—something he’d only heard the soldiers talk about. Something he always suspected he’d never experience.

And now, here he was. There were moans tearing through Tony’s lips and it did things to Steve’s mind, knowing that he was the reason. That Tony enjoyed himself, even as he was the one giving him pleasure. He was enjoying it.

Before he knew what was happening, his treacherous hand had reached the back of Tony’s head, his fingers grazing his hair with an odd combination of curiosity and nervousness. Even if the room around him remained imagined, this felt definitely real. Before Steve could stop himself, a moan tore from his throat, slightly muffled, but loud enough for Tony to notice.

“You like this,” Tony gasped, as he pulled back to look up at Steve. “God, how you look…”

Steve blinked rapidly. Tony was telling him how he looked? He still couldn’t believe what was happening, Tony had said all those things, and suddenly, he had him in his mouth.

“I—I don’t know what… what…” Steve stuttered, his voice shaking.

Without warning, Tony pulled back completely. And to Steve’s surprised embarrassment, the first thing that ran through his mind were words of protest.

“Shit, I’m an ass,” Tony breathed, stepping away from Steve. He shook his head, as he stared at him. “I’m sorry.”

More blinking. Did he really just apologize for… for doing this to Steve?

“You really have never done this. Never had someone take it in the mouth.” To Steve’s amazement, his face fell with something that looked a lot like shame. “Right, Captain?”

“Steve,” he corrected, even as his skin reddened.

“Steve,” Tony said. A long, tortured groan tore through the air. Tony’s eyes fluttered shut. “I’m a jerk,” he murmured. “I’m such a jerk. Your first time shouldn’t have… but Christ, why the hell do I even care? This isn’t real! It’s not like this is happening…”

Steve found the torn confusion in Tony’s voice oddly comforting.

Tony’s eyes raked the length of him and Steve was painfully aware that he still stood here with his cock hanging out of his pants. As if reading Steve’s thoughts, Tony’s eyes flickered to his erection. “But you liked it, didn’t you?”

It was his dream, so he should be able to control how fast his heart was beating or how red his skin became. He should—but he couldn’t. “I…”

Tony’s eyes twinkled as he cocked his head. “You don’t have to answer,” he replied, licking those sinful lips of his. “I can see how hard you still are.” He stepped closer again and ran a comforting hand down Steve’s arm.

“I’ve never felt this way,” Steve admitted.

Tony smiled, and for the first time since their very first meeting, it looked friendly. “You’re so different than my dreams of you before,” he whispered.

The note of near reverence in his voice was such a step away from anything Steve had heard from him. Therefore, it took him a moment to decipher those words.

“Your dreams of me?” he asked. “Of ‘before’?”

“Oh, I dreamed of you for years, basically my whole youth. But you weren’t like this, not so…” He swallowed, and words seemed to fail him. “You’re different.”

Once again, Steve wondered how old Tony was. He couldn’t be older than twenty-five, maybe younger. And yet everything he did, and said, made him seem so much older.

“This isn’t real,” Steve reminded him, but his brows were furrowed. “Right?”

“Feels real,” Tony murmured, though he shook his head a second later. “But no… it can’t be. I know for a fact that I’m sleeping in my workshop right now. Tomorrow, I have a board meeting, and I gotta hire a new PA, because my last one was a guy with a bad habit of vomiting on my shoes every time he had to hold a presentation.”

Steve exhaled slowly, his wide eyes enamoured with the man in front of him. He had to file that information away and keep it safe. He couldn’t forget. Tony might never share anything else about his life.

“Can I…” Tony prompted as he neared him once more. Steve had no idea what went through his head, but with some hesitation, he curled his fist around Steve’s length. “Is that okay?”

Steve breathed a choked moan, thrusting forward in time with the strokes of Tony’s hand. “Yes…”

“Good. Just move with me,” Tony murmured, flashing Steve a reassuring smile. His movements had Steve’s insides burning almost to the brink of pain.

“I need…” Steve said, his voice hoarse. He had no single idea what he needed, but it became more imperative by the second.

“I know,” Tony said—he almost cooed. “I’m gonna suck you again, alright?” He took Steve’s hand in his and with a pointed look, he led him to the large bed.

Steve blinked. “I—”

“Just like before,” Tony said as he ushered him to sit down. “Tell me when you want me to stop.”

There was every chance he would regret this tomorrow. Dream or not, this was pushing everything past borderline to real. Made it official that this was something he wanted, too. Being with a man like this. And he did—he wanted it here. In this place composed of nowhere, with the weird-looking furniture and the wrong New York skyline. There wasn’t a world outside these walls. There wasn’t anything but a motel room, and something kept bringing him here.

Tony was kneeling again, and he held Steve’s gaze as his mouth dipped toward his cock. His tongue tentatively curled around the tip of him, sucking him between his lips.

“Oh God,” Steve whimpered, arching upward and urging his cock deeper inside Tony’s mouth.

“Mmmm…”

“I’m not gonna last,” he gasped and although he had no single idea what kind of behaviour was appropriate during a—a blowjob—but he found himself moving with Tony in no time. He followed him whenever he started to slide away, determined to keep him where he wanted him. Tony’s tongue rubbed his underside almost roughly, then took time to skim the length of him as Steve pumped himself between his lips.

“Gotta stop,” Steve warned and Tony froze for a second, his brown eyes trailing upward. His mouth, however, remained stubbornly locked around him.

“Gonna come,” Steve explained. “You don’ want—”

Eyes narrowed in defiance, Tony huffed and sucked him in as far as he could. What he couldn’t take into his mouth, he rubbed with his free hand. He drew Steve in until his head was once again pressed to the back of his throat.

Steve’s eyes went so wide it nearly was painful. Tony wanted—he really wanted to—

But Tony merely kept on swallowing. He swallowed as Steve bucked wildly off the bed. As he shook and moaned. As he spilled himself into his throat, making a prayer of his name with every breath that left his lips.

This had sealed his fate. Steve’s life wouldn’t be the same after this. Reality didn’t matter anymore. Not with Tony looking at him as he was now.

Tony wiped his mouth with his fingers, before licking his thumb clean. His cheeks were beautifully flushed and his eyes blown wide with—something.

Everything had changed. It’d happened so fast, but everything had changed.

“Steve…” Tony started as he pulled back. He opened his mouth to say more, but it was then that sirens resounded all around Steve and he jerked awake.

 

* * *

 

Tony had wanted to say something before he woke up, Steve was certain of it. He’d licked his lips with that tongue of his and opened his mouth to speak…

Then the sirens had cut through his dream-world and the room around Steve had vanished. Somehow, the night had run away from him. One minute, he’d been with Tony and the next he was back on his cot, and woefully alone at that.

Steve wasn’t sure how he made it through the day. Going back to his daily routine after… all of that was difficult enough, but planning a war, forming a new team, discussing tactics—it really took every ounce of concentration.

Later, they drove towards northern Italy. With Bucky and Dugan and Morita and Falsworth and all of the others. They were good fellas, each of them specialists in their own field. Well, Dugan was mostly a specialist in cigars, whiskey, and ladies, but that had a certain benefit in itself.

Steve was really lucky to have them at his side.

While logically he knew he’d done nothing wrong, and that nothing had changed, he couldn’t help the way his insides flushed whenever Bucky glanced at him. It wasn’t like he could control his realistic might-not-be-dreams, nor could he control how his heart yearned to go back to sleeping.

Bucky suspected something, though he never said anything to him. He probably thought he missed Peggy, and while that was the case, he knew now it wouldn’t develop into anything. And he thought that Peggy knew it, too.

And yet, there were the doubts. Everything in those dreams was too real—too specific. There were no turns or inconsistencies; even the room was always the same. Dreams weren’t that specific, right? And that meant that something was going on.

He wondered if Tony thought of him this much when he was awake. He wondered if he thought of him at all. He was also wondering where Tony lived. He didn’t have any kind of accent, so Steve supposed he had to be American, maybe a New Yorker, too, but otherwise…

Tony somehow didn’t fit into anything. With his goatee, and his extravagant suits, it almost felt as if he didn’t belong into this world at all.

 

* * *

 

When Steve fell asleep that night, Tony already waited for him. The second he saw him standing in front of the door, he stood up from the bed. “Look, I’m sorry.”

Steve blinked, dumbfounded. “You’re what?”

“Last night… I wasn’t myself. Obi’s driving me nuts, and I…” A long, tortured laugh tore through his throat. “I’m sorry, all right? I shouldn’t have done it. Not without your consent.”

Steve licked his lips and exhaled slowly. “Takes two,” he said, admitting, for the first time, that he’d wanted this just as much as Tony had. “I could’ve stopped you at any point.”

Tony opened his mouth to reply, then paused and frowned. There was nothing for several long, endless seconds.

“Right, you’re… Captain America,” he said to himself, as if only just now realizing what that meant, exactly. His gaze got distant for a moment, before they locked on Steve again. “What is the date today?”

Steve thought for a moment. “Uh… September 28th, I think.” It was hard to keep track of time, sometimes.

Tony sighed, but he didn’t say anything more for a good minute. Instead, he started pacing. He walked about the room, his eyes sometimes dropping on the half-filled tumbler that dutifully waited for him on the nightstand. He never walked over there, though, instead he kept brushing his fingers through his hair as he walked.

“Tony, what is it?” Steve eventually asked cautiously. He was used to Tony ignoring him, even to his anger, but now he looked as unhinged as he’d ever seen him.

“I just… I don’t know what to do,” Tony explained. “We keep coming back here, and I tried to ignore you, and it didn’t help. And then last night, I wanted to… I don’t even know what I was thinking. There was the argument with Obi, and I drank too much, and fell asleep on those stupid missile blueprints he wants to have, and then there was you…” He exhaled, his shoulders rolling back. “I didn’t realize you were him before, but it makes sense, right? Of course I’d be dreaming of you when my life goes to literal hell. You were always there when I needed someone and I… I wracked my brain trying to get over the idea that I might’ve hurt you, and it’s crazy…”

“You didn’t hurt me,” Steve said softly, as he stepped closer. All of this, each and every word Tony said, didn’t make the slightest lick of sense to him. He’d been there for Tony? What was that supposed to mean? But he knew he wouldn’t be getting any answers. It didn’t work like that with Tony, he never explained himself.

And maybe it was for that reason, that instead of asking Tony what the hell he was talking about, he simply cupped Tony’s cheek, and kissed him softly.

It felt more right than anything else in Steve’s life right now.

“Whatever it is,” he told him. “We’re both in it together.”

Tony looked up at him with his big brown eyes that had Steve’s heart skip a beat every time he stared into them directly, and a tiny smile rose to his lips. “That’s something only you would say,” he said, huffing softly, before he leaned in and slowly kissed Steve back.

 

* * *

 

They talked a bit more after that. They talked, and sometimes kissed, but it never went beyond that. Tony never initiated something. He probably thought Steve couldn’t handle it, and Steve—well, he didn’t know how to tell Tony that that wasn’t the case at all.

He kind of missed touching Tony, but if it meant they had a chance to get along a little better, and maybe get to actually know each other, Steve was okay with that. For the moment.

They talked about both of their lives, about Steve’s mother, and Bucky, and the war. Tony had told him he was some kind of engineer, though Steve had a feeling he was downplaying this a whole lot. He’d also told him that he’d recently lost a family member named Jarvis, but apart from that, he didn’t give much of anything personal away.

He loved talking about his work, though, about machines he wanted to built, and things he wanted to invent, and it was all so far over Steve’s head, he could only listen to him in pure amazement.

In any case, after all those months they’d spent here together, there was no anger in Tony’s eyes anymore. No loathing. And on most days, Steve couldn’t wait to go to sleep.

 

* * *

 

The war was… it was taking parts out of him. Tiny parts, but Steve felt as all those horrors, each and every day, slowly but steadily wound their way into his heart.

Talking with Tony helped. Every night, they would sit together on the huge bed, and Steve would tell Tony what had happened that day, which HYDRA base they’d raided and how many lives they’d saved.

He kept the gut-wrenching parts to himself—the people they couldn’t save, the lives they’d left behind—but he saw it in Tony’s eyes that he understood anyway.

He had that calming way about him—how he’d ask Steve a few little questions here and there, like where they were right now, if it was cold outside, how his team was doing. He still wasn’t sharing much information about himself, at least not any specifics, but Steve figured Tony simply needed a bit more time to fully trust him. In any case, Tony’s presence helped calm Steve’s mind a lot, and whenever he woke up, he did it with a bit of newfound strength to face yet another day.

“Don’t wanna wake up,” Steve murmured as he glanced to the large window front. It was still dark outside, but there was now a sliver of red filling the horizon, and he knew that the sun would rise soon.

They were lying on the bed, the covers draped over them. It was warm and cozy, and however foreign the motel room had felt at first, it was wonderfully familiar now.

If he closed his eyes, he could almost imagine the covers, the whole air, slowly started to smell like the both of them together.

“Me neither,” Tony said on a low breath. He leaned up a bit from where he lay cuddled against Steve’s side. He smiled down at him, and pressed a kiss against Steve’s cheek.

Steve was having none of it, he put a finger on Tony’s chin and pulled him in, taking a content breath as their mouths met.

He’d never imagined that life could be like this for him. To have someone he could simply touch and kiss whenever he wanted.

“Do you think… when I’m back home, when the war is over… that we can meet in person?”

Tony stared at him for a moment. He was obviously trying to keep his expression in check, but Steve saw it nevertheless: a pang of pure sadness, and it had Steve confused beyond measure. Was the suggestion really that out of the picture? He knew it would be difficult for two men, maybe impossible, but if he’d had the chance to meet Tony, he would take it without a doubt.

Tony tried forcing a smile to his lips, and he brushed his nose along Steve’s. “You have no idea how much I want that,” he whispered, and while it didn’t sound like a lie… there was something in Tony’s tone that suggested it was impossible.

Maybe Tony already was in a relationship? Maybe he had a girl at home, or even a family, and these dreams were just a little adventure for him.

Steve didn’t want to believe all that, but Tony’s hesitance to tell him about his life was becoming more and more noticeable.

On the one hand, he couldn’t wait for the war to be over, but he dreaded it all the same. There was no telling what the time after this would bring. More often than not Steve had wondered if some power had brought Tony to him just so he could bear through all of this. The night after Project Rebirth, when he’d wished for his life to gain some meaning—that had been the night when he’d first met Tony.

What if, as soon as the war was over, he’d lose Tony for good?

It was something Steve had come to depend on—the promise of Tony’s presence. Because no matter how confused these nights together had him, there was solace in them as well.

There was so much in his life that didn’t belong to him. The war, the horrible deaths he’d had to encounter every day. Even the Captain America persona. This belonged to him. With as twisted and dangerous as it was, it was real. And it was his.

No one could take that away.

 

* * *

 

In the next night, Tony was, as usual, on the edge of the bed, his hands clasped over his lap. Today, however, his eyes were very serious when Steve stepped out of the shadows.

“Hi,” Steve said as he approached him a bit warily.

Tony smiled. “Heya, Cap—Steve,” he corrected himself when he saw Steve’s stern look.

Steve neared the bed, holding Tony’s intense stare. His eyes all but swallowed Steve whole as he moved. He had such gorgeous expressive eyes. Steve had been so foolish to believe Tony wasn’t every bit the type of guy Steve would find himself drawn to.

And not just drawn. Tony was… he’d become so much more to him.

Back then, his mother used to say the mind fought ninety-nine percent of the battle. And up until now, Steve’d thought she was right about that. While he’d often found himself looking at other men, wondering, he’d never had any problems not to act on it. When he’d thought about his future, it had always been so clear that he’d eventually marry a nice dame, if she’d have him, and start a family.

Now, though, the man in front of him was as temptingly perfect as Steve could’ve ever imagined. And the more time passed, the more he yearned to keep him for always.

He was standing in a foreign motel room, and it felt real. It felt so real that he was having an increasingly harder time convincing himself that his body was actually lying on a cot in a now-icy cold Italy. That he was wrapped in thick blankets, sleeping in a small tent with Bucky and his other team members. He knew that, but it didn’t make the motel room feel any less real.

“There’s something I need to tell you,” Tony said eventually, and ah, that was what the serious eyes were for.

Steve swallowed, and sat down next to him. “Yeah?”

He had a feeling he wouldn’t like this conversation. While he’d wished to find out more about Tony, he knew that there was every chance the new information would kill all hope for him.

“I’m sorry, Steve,” Tony said, as he reached for Steve’s hand. “I was… I’m sorry I didn’t say much of anything when you asked me to meet you, I…” He took a deep breath. “Trust me, it was the truth when I said there’s literally nothing I’d like to do more than meet you in person.”

Steve’s heart started to hammer in his chest. “So you’re not… you’re not married?”

Tony’s eyes almost bogged out of his face. “M-married?” He released a surprised laugh. “No, I’m… trust me, I’m as far from ‘married’ as you can possibly imagine. I’m the least-married guy in the world right now. It’s… look, maybe I should tell you that I’m not exactly marriage-material. If there was a certificate for that, I’d have three.”

I’d marry you, Steve thought, and felt himself freezing. That was… he had no idea where that thought had come from, and he fought hard not to let the shock over his own words show. “That’s… that’s a relief,” he said instead.

Tony chuckled, but his expression turned serious once more only moments later. “Steve, I… I would do anything in my power to meet you, but I can’t.”

All hope died with Tony’s words.

“Why not?”

Tony grimaced. “Steve, you’re in Italy right now, November 1944, right?”

“On our way to Swiss, actually,” Steve corrected, and frowned. “But yes. Why does it matter? I know the situation looks grim, but once the war is over—”

Next to him, Tony shook his head, the hand around Steve’s squeezing him slightly. There was something in his eyes, when he looked at him. Some terrible knowledge. “It’s… okay, this will sound crazy, but there’s really not a good way to break it to you.” He took a deep breath. “Where I am, it’s 1996.”

Everything… stilled.

That was—that was impossible, wasn’t it? Almost instantly, his gaze wandered across the motel room, across the abstract painting, and for some reason, he couldn’t doubt Tony’s words. The room, everything had always seemed just the tiniest bit off, like it was something that didn’t belong in Steve’s world.

Because it belonged in Tony’s.

“But… how?” he breathed.

Tony shook his head miserably. “I have no idea. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you earlier. I guess I was still expecting for some sort of explanation, but… I mean, fuck, Steve, we can’t really go on and tell ourselves that this is normal, can we?”

“So you think it, too?”

Tony arched an inquisitive brow. “Think what?”

“That… well, that we’re sharing dreams. Or that… it’s real?” He bit his lower lip uncertainly. “I mean, obviously not real-real, because I’m definitely sleeping on a tiny cot right now. And you’re… wherever you are.”

“California,” Tony told him with a small smile and squeezed his hand again. “That’s where I live. Born and raised in New York.”

Another thing to file away deep inside his heart.

“So even if this is real…” Steve started weakly, the gears in his mind twisting and turning with realization.

“Yeah,” Tony said with defeat in his voice.

Between 1944 and 1996… that was a whole lot of years. He had no idea how this worked, or why they had found each other over time and space, but it had to mean something, right?

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Tony told him. “I’ve read a few things about… about dream sharing. Most of it is just some weird esoteric bullshit, but there were a few things that made sense. And all of it said that dream sharing is mostly about the two people feeling some kind of connection, and we… we didn’t.”

“We do now,” Steve said before he could think it through. The words were out his lips and he pressed his eyes closed, as if in pain. He shouldn’t have said that, Tony wouldn’t want for him to force his feelings on him and—

Suddenly, Tony had Steve’s face captured between his hands, and pressed his mouth to his. “We do,” he agreed heatedly.

Steve nodded and that was it. Everything around Steve melted. Tony’s tongue slipped between his lips, and with a long whimper, Steve became his completely. There was no taste in the world that could rival Tony’s; and the more he took, the hungrier he became.

Perhaps none of this meant anything—he didn’t know. All he knew was that Tony had pushed him down on the mattress and was now pressed against him, full-body. His hard cock rubbed against Steve’s pyjama-clad erection, inciting small whimpers from his mouth and stirring the fire he’d started that first night back to full glory.

“Steve,” Tony whispered, slipping a hand between them, his fingers dancing in light movements across his stomach, until he reached the waistband of Steve’s pants. “Damn it, I want you so much. Every second of every day. You’re all I think about.”

“You… you, too, Tony. Always.”

“I want to keep you,” Tony said and Steve threw his head back and moaned when Tony’s lips pressed a series of hot, wet kisses down his throat.

“Yes,” he gasped. “Yes.”

“Last night… you disappeared before I could tell you how much this means to me.”

“I woke up.”

“Don’t do that,” Tony breathed. “Don’t ever wake up.”

If it only were so simple. “Don’t wanna. Wanna stay.”

Tony pulled back at that, looking down at him. “You do?” he asked softly, an awed look flashing across his beautiful face. “You wanna stay here?”

Tony was barely touching him, so Steve thrust his hips forward a little in hope of luring his hand lower. He needed him to touch him everywhere. “Yes,” Steve said, and on a second thought, he added, “I wanna touch you.” He didn’t know where this sudden boldness was coming from, but it was rushing through his veins like molten lava. It was just Tony with him—he didn’t need to hide from him. “All of you. All the time. I… I wanna know how you feel around me, and everything you said that first night… I wanna… I wanna do everything with you.”

God,” Tony said with feeling. His lips moved down to Steve’s nipples, sucking one of them through Steve’s shirt, as he fisted the hem of it and pulled it out of his pants. He brushed another kiss across the skin of his chest, pulling the shirt off of him. “You’re so perfect,” he breathed with a look of awe.

“Perfect?” Steve echoed. “I’m… I’m really not.”

“Oh, you really are.”

“I… I haven’t always been like this,” Steve admitted, and it had Tony’s eyes lock on him with intent.

“I know,” he said, smiling, “but I wasn’t talking about your body, darling. That one’s kinda perfect, too, sure, but… I meant you. You are perfect to me.”

Steve swallowed, staring up at Tony and he didn’t know what to say to that. He couldn’t talk like Tony, didn’t have his way with words, but he felt the same. Tony was perfect for him, too.

With shaky movements, Steve lifted his hips as Tony stripped the fabric of his pants down his legs. And then, for the first time in his adult life, he was lying completely naked in front of someone else. A man whose kisses still burned his lips. A man who lived in a whole other time.

A man he might have fallen in love with.

“You are beautiful, though.” There was something in Tony’s voice that rattled his insides. Steve shivered and looked up just as the back of Tony’s knuckles grazed the trail of hair on his abdomen, slowly moving downwards. He was staring at Steve’s dick like a man possessed, his eyes searing with lust.

Then, without ceremony, Tony sat up a bit, settling on top of Steve, bringing their middles together. He lined them up, and after spitting into his hand, wrapped it around both of their erections. Sparks detonated across Steve’s skin, as an inhuman moan ripped through his throat. His body was aflame, his blood bubbling with elation so pure it had to be illegal.

Steve sucked in a breath and moaned Tony’s name aloud, his hips arching off the bed and right against Tony’s groin.

It felt—all of this—it felt like Tony had at some point crawled inside his skin and made himself at home. Steve knew deep inside that his life would never be the same.

“You’re so responsive,” Tony said with shuddering breaths. His face was flushed, his eyes almost manic with need.

And Steve was desperate to keep his eyes on him—addicted, as he was, to the sight of Tony’s gorgeous face. And now that he was all but convinced this was real—or as real as the dream allowed—the thought that he was truly doing this with another man was nearly too much to handle.

“Just close your eyes and imagine it,” Tony whispered against his lips as he leaned down again. “We’re in a real bed, in a real world. We’re together. You’ll open me up, finger by finger, and push in me, and nothing can separate us again.”

The idea alone made Steve sob. Tony’d let Steve have him; he knew he would. But it’d leave him ruined for anyone else, and all too soon he might not dream of Tony again, and where would that leave him?

This had happened too fast. He’d lost himself too damn fast.

“You gonna let me do it?” Tony rasped, the steady slide of his hips had Steve dangerously close to climax. “You gonna let me show you how good it can be?”

“Tony, I…” Steve trembled hard, his enhanced cells compounding closer and closer to the ambiguous edge of something he’d never felt before. Not like this. Shapes blurred around him before his eyes were blinded by white, his nerves quivering and ecstasy. “Oh…”

“Yeah, come for me,” Tony bid him hoarsely.

As if on command, Steve threw his head back, his hips lifting off the mattress. His body sizzled and exploded, doused so deep in rapture that he didn’t know how to ever breathe normally again. It lasted forever, and yet, it was over too soon. Sweat lined Steve’s brows and when he looked down, he felt all remaining breath leaving him.

Tony had sat up again, his head thrown back, lips open, his back in a beautiful, perfect arch. His hips were still moving, gliding so sensually over Steve’s middle as his right hand moved over their cocks.

The sight was… unlike anything Steve had ever encountered, and he felt himself stiffen once more. Once Tony cried out and added to the already cooling come on Steve’s chest, a surprised groan tore through Steve’s throat. He fisted both hands into the bedsheets, bucking up. There was the sound of cloth tearing, and he gasped and twitched and couldn’t believe himself as he came a second time.

By the time the world returned to him, he was dizzy with sensation.

Tony had lain down next to him, resting his cheek against Steve’s shoulder and gently running his fingers over his chest, spreading the come a little. It should probably gross him out to some degree, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

He was lost. God, Steve was so lost to him.

It was a cruel world that awaited him beyond the dream—Steve shivered hard and begged for some strength.

“That was the single most erotic thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tony whispered, breaking the silence and brushing a small, tender kiss across Steve’s heart.

“Back at you,” Steve murmured. He tried moving his legs somewhat, and it was futile—he’d never felt so completely worn out since he’d been injected with the serum. He glanced sideways. “Thank you.”

“For what?” Tony whispered.

When he’d thanked him, he’d been thinking about the last few minutes, but now that Tony was looking at him in question, he realized it wasn’t what he really had to thank him for.

“For seeing me,” he said instead.

Tony smiled timidly. “I don’t know how anyone could not see you. You’re as bright as the sun. And far too good for me.”

“Let me decide on that,” Steve said, and rolled around until he settled on top of Tony. He was painfully aware that they should be doing some clean-up, but this was more important.

“I’m seeing you, too,” he told Tony softly.

“Not all that good, apparently,” Tony countered, and it was always like this with him. He was bold and flashy and his words were meant to show that he didn’t care either way, but beneath all that, he was the most vulnerable person Steve had ever come across.

So Steve framed his face with both hands, and leaned in until their mouths were almost touching. “I have enhanced sight,” he said, “and you have a good heart, whether you want to admit it or not.”

Tony huffed—a shaky little sound. “I don’t know what this is,” he whispered. “It’s either driving me mad or bringing me back to life… and fuck if I know which.”

Steve wove his fingers through Tony’s hair and sighed, but said nothing.

This might not be permanent, but it had left a permanent mark in Steve’s heart. All he could do right now was enjoy it and hope it wouldn’t hurt too much when he remembered who they were… when they were… and how easy it would be never to see Tony again.

He needed to keep it together. There was still a war to be fought, and they finally had a lead on Arnim Zola. Tomorrow, they’d lead a stealth attack on one of HYDRA’s trains, and maybe they’d finally make some headway of getting to Schmidt.

 

* * *

 

Nothing in Steve’s life was all right anymore.

Bucky was dead, fallen into an icy abyss right in front of his eyes. He hadn’t managed to catch him in time and all Steve could do now was stare at the scotch in front of him and curse Abraham Erskine for not telling him that his new body wouldn’t allow him to get drunk.

Peggy had left only a few moments ago, and a part of Steve longed for her to hold him and keep the pain away, but he knew as soon as he closed his eyes, Tony’d be there. When he closed his eyes tonight, he’d be there. Tony would be there. Waiting for him.

It was all that mattered.

With Bucky gone, everything was in question now. Everything had slowed around Steve. He knew the world was in danger. True danger. He knew it all, but the distance between knowledge and action seemed endless. He couldn’t move. He was literally frozen in place—staring at the broken pub around him as the world provided a true definition of slow motion.

I don’t want to fight anymore, he thought briefly, closing his eyes as tears began to fall.

 

* * *

 

He sat in the bar for a whole long while that night. Bucky’s death kept him shell-shocked, and he lay awake long. Only by the time the moonlit sky faded into morning, Steve’s heavy eyes conceded the battle to fatigue, and he fell into a troubled sleep.

Tony’s head jerked up the second Steve barrelled through the door. And the second their eyes clashed, the most potent wave of sadness Steve had ever felt flooded his veins, weighing down on him.

“Thank god,” Tony breathed. He rushed to his feet and threw his arms around Steve’s neck, burying his face in the crook of his neck.

Steve stood still in his arms. Then, his arms slowly wound around Tony’s shoulders.

“I was so worried,” Tony breathed. “What happened?”

Steve shook his head, realizing he couldn’t talk about it. He just needed proof Tony was real. He needed proof he wasn’t hallucinating within a dream. Thus, with conviction, he pulled his head back just slightly and cupped Tony’s cheeks, kissing him. Steve wanted to crawl up inside him—he wanted Tony to feel the thundering beat of his heart and taste the tears on his lips and realize that this was the only thing that kept him upright right now.

“Steve…” Tony reached behind his neck, wrapping his hands around his wrists, even as his mouth couldn’t help but steal sweetly soft kisses from him. He pulled his hands off, so he could look at him. “Steve, what happened? You can tell me everything.”

Steve grimaced and forced the words out. “I… I lost someone today.”

“Oh,” Tony breathed, his brows furrowing. “I’m so sorry.”

“He fell,” he explained brokenly. “He fell and I couldn’t catch him.”

Tony stared at him for a moment, and confusion gave way for realization. He sighed, then pressed his forehead against Steve’s. “It wasn’t your fault.”

“You can’t know that.”

“It wasn’t…” Tony persisted. “You did everything you could. You’re Captain America.”

“That’s just a name…” Steve said. “I’m still me, and I lost him.”

Tony nodded and led him to the bed. He made him sit down, and followed suit right after. “I wish I could do something.”

“You’re here,” Steve said, shaking his head. “That’s enough.”

Tony smiled sadly. He’d pulled both of Steve’s hands on his lap, brushing his fingers over Steve’s with soothing movements. “I know you tried to save him. And Bucky chose to go with you.”

The words warmed Steve at first, but as soon as they settled in his head, he felt himself freeze. He pulled his hands back slightly, and stared at Tony’s face. “I never told you about Bucky.”

He’d told him plenty stories about his team, but he knew with perfect clarity that he’d never used Bucky’s name. Of course, Tony had always had a way of knowing things, but… there was no possible way he could’ve known about Bucky. Right?

Tony’s eyes flickered over his face briefly, before his expression turned troubled. “Right…”

How?” Steve asked.

“Steve, if this is real…” Tony swallowed, “if you’re real, I already know everything.”

That had Steve move his hands away entirely. “Everything? Did you know that Bucky would die, too?”

Tony remained silent, but the answer was all the same.

Steve stood up, turning on him with shaking hands. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he demanded, and it didn’t matter why Tony knew all this, it only mattered that there might’ve been a way to save Bucky. “I could’ve saved him!”

Tony’s eyes were full of pain. “Where I am—when I am—your life is… it’s already history.”

1996. Of course, that would make sense. He’d be over 70 years old.

Still, it didn’t matter if he really was ‘history’ in Tony’s world and it didn’t matter if Tony had read about his life in a book—there had been a way to stop this from happening, and Tony hadn’t told him.

“I was afraid of what would happen if I’d change anything…” Tony said quietly.

“You should’ve tried!”

“And what then?” Tony snapped suddenly. “It doesn’t work that way! There’s… there’s history books about you. Everyone knows what happened to the great Captain America! Do you really think my meddling would change anything?”

Steve shook his head with confusion. “What do you mean?”

Tony walked across the room, ignoring his question. “I’ll probably dream of you for decades after this is over. I’m in too fucking deep. And this is so goddamn unfair. The dreams with you should’ve been easy. Should’ve been a wet dream and nothing else. I didn’t ask for this! For all these…” Tony broke off again. “I wake up a half-man, and who do I want there? You’re ruining me—you’re ruining everything—and when you’re gone, what will I fucking do, Steve?!”

Steve’s wobbling legs were fighting to maintain balance. “What are you talking about?” he asked. “You keep mentioning… something. I don’t understand a goddamn word you say!”

“You’re dead!” Tony yelled, and his whole body was shaking terribly. There were tears stinging his eyes now, and his voice was hoarse. “You’re dead, okay? You died, and I grew up hearing stories about you, but one thing was always very clear: One day, you vanished from earth, and you never came back!”

Steve stared at him. There was… there was nothing to say—what could he say?

He walked back a few steps and let himself fall down on the bed, his face buried in his hands.

Oh God.

Somehow, he’d known that something like this was going on. Not that he’d… die, but… at times, there had been so much sadness and fear in Tony’s eyes, and he hadn’t known why, but it had been there nevertheless.

“Steve,” Tony said, and he felt him kneeling down right in front of him. “I’m… shit, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have put this on your shoulders, just like that.”

“I love you,” Steve said, quietly and Tony stared up at him with wide eyes.

“What?”

It was true. His nights had thrived on the promise of Tony’s every touch, every kiss, and he’d lost himself without realizing the battle was over.

But now… How could he hope to keep this when he wouldn’t even survive this war?

“Steve…”

Steve shook his head. He couldn’t say anything. The air was cold against his skin. He was barren and exposed—virtually naked in front of Tony. Naked in ways he hadn’t been before. He’d finally unveiled the last part of himself that he’d tried to keep secret. It was his fault for falling in love with a ghost from the future, but it was also Tony’s for allowing it to happen. For making Steve believe, even reluctantly, he had reason to hope beyond dreaming.

When he’d known all along that he’d never even see the day the war would end.

“Steve…” Tony breathed, taking his face into his hands. “Steve… fuck, I love you, too, you hear me? I love you.”

It was hard to find words for how much he’d hoped to hear those three words from Tony. He hadn’t dared to hope that someone like Tony could ever love someone like Steve. And now that he had them, he didn’t know what to do with it.

“What does it change?” he asked with a defeated breath. “Bucky’s dead… I will be dead soon.”

Tony shivered, shaking his head. “I can’t let you die,” he said urgently. “Maybe if I tell you how—“

“That’s not your choice!” Steve snapped. “You said so yourself!”

The fire died in Tony’s eyes a bit. “Steve—”

“I’d be an old man before we even meet. This… there’s no hope, don’t you see?”

“I wouldn’t care,” Tony said brokenly. “I fought this so hard, but now—”

“I didn’t ask for this, either!” Steve stood up once more and turned away, shaking hard. He really wished he could just walk through that door and be done with it. “Don’t pretend it’s been just hard on you, Tony. I would’ve sacrificed everything for this… for whatever small part you were willing to give me.”

Suddenly, Tony’s hands clamped hard around his forearms and his mouth was pressed against Steve’s. And that was it. The last part of him clinging to sanity died.

He was going to die. He was going to die, and he’d never meet Tony in person. He’d never have this, never be with Tony.

“I have to go,” Steve said, forcing himself to hold himself upright. “I don’t wanna see you again.” With that, he brushed Tony’s hands off, and couldn’t look at him. Couldn’t be held when he knew. He’d die. They’d never meet. He jerked back.

“No, please don’t,” Tony said, running after him when Steve stormed towards the door, trying to follow. “Steve—please don’t do it. Don’t step into that plane, don’t—”

The final piece of Steve chipped away. He dissolved in pain, and forcefully jerked himself awake the next second.

 

* * *

 

Steve didn’t want to know what he looked like when he walked towards his team’s quarters two days later. He stopped for a moment, tilting his head back as he enjoyed the icy winds. His eyes were raw, and fatigue claimed every muscle in his body. He was jittery from the horrible coffee he’d forced himself to drink over and over again and so exhausted from avoiding sleep he feared he might collapse.

But he couldn’t sleep. Not now. He couldn’t face Tony again before all of this was over.

In only a few hours, he’d fight Schmidt. He’d bring an end to this, and then, he would try to find help, and make those dreams go away. Perhaps it was time to end this impossible thing between them anyway. There were fifty years between them. Fifty years and only a few imaginary dreams they’d shared.

Of course, there was every chance he might die today, and if he didn’t—he simply didn’t want to lose anyone else.

He just wanted to rest.

“Steve?” Peggy asked, as she stepped up to him cautiously. “What’s wrong?”

A small smile stretched Steve’s face. “Wrong?” he repeated. “What makes you think something’s wrong?”

“Well… we won’t leave for another half hour, and I know you’re not here for the view.” She paused meaningfully as she glanced towards the dreary landscape in front of them. A small smile grazed her red lips, and for a brief moment, Steve thought they could’ve been happy together. “And you look kinda terrible. Is it Barnes?”

Merely mentioning Bucky’s name had his exhausted eyes watering all over again.

“I just need this to be over,” he said, pointedly avoiding Peggy’s gaze.

“It won’t be long,” she said. She reached for his hand, squeezing it softly. “After this, the future’s just waiting for you.”

She couldn’t know how wrong she was, of course, but her eyes were full of kindness.

Of compassion.

“You can do this, Steve.”

Steve squared his shoulders and nodded.

He felt the shield Howard Stark had given him resting safely on his back, as he let his gaze sweep over the mountains before him. He felt determination settle inside him like a long forgotten dream and he knew, even if this might be his last battle, he’d give it his all.

 

* * *

 

When Steve sat in the plane, staring at the endless ice in front of him, he wished desperately that sleep would take him before death could.

He said his goodbyes to Peggy, but he wished—like he’d never wished for anything else—that he’d see Tony again. One more time. And yet, the dive into the endless ice was thoroughly dreamless. There was no Tony to caress his skin with his hands and mouth. No Tony to fill his heart with soft promises. No Tony to destroy him with his terrible knowledge.

There was no Tony. Only coldness.

And when the icy water surrounded him, Steve couldn’t help missing him. He missed him so much.

What followed was a void of everything. Time was meaningless, and seconds became a tedious pattern of repetition. He wasn’t alive, he wasn’t awake—he was simply… there. In the deafening quiet, Steve couldn’t help but wonder what would have changed if Tony had told him earlier. Or how things might have been had Tony not invaded his dreams at all.

In that moment, Steve glimpsed into the eyes of his own mortality and realized his life might end any second. But right then, he was still alive. He was alive enough to remember, he still was… somewhere.

His death would be dreamless, but he wondered if Tony still dreamt himself into the room. If he thought about Steve at all while he was there, or if he was grateful Steve had finally made his exit.

He wondered.

And slept.

But didn’t dream.