There are a great many things that are certain in the world, and the Alpha/Omega dynamic is one of them. But even in this world, there are surprises, there are changes, and there are those who challenge each and every perception.
Lives tangle every second of every day, and though continents and decades may separate them, those circumstances will wind themselves around every moment until people who are irrevocably connected find their way to each other. The Chinese have the red thread, the Ancient Greeks have the fates - prophecies and predictions that span time to join even the most distant people to each other.
Tony Stark spent the first thirteen years of his life as any other boy in his position might. His father was a distant man, intelligent but occupied at all times by a job that took over his life. To say that Tony did well at school would be a lie – he excelled. He was the best, from the moment he walked in. He was ahead by years, his mind a whirl of numbers and equations that were indecipherable to most others. He did his best, like any boy, to please his father, to gain the recognition that his father's pride would give him.
And, at fourteen, any pride or satisfaction Howard Stark might have given his son was dismissed. Because Tony Stark, meant to be the next in a long line of Stark Alpha males, was a disappointment greater than any Howard could have conceived of.
Tony Stark was Omega.
And so Howard devoted his life to finding the one person who could make him proud, the one man who could justify his work, the weakest, scrawniest Alpha that Howard Stark had ever met in his life.
Call it a quirk of fate, call it an opportunity lost, hell, call it the Great Depression.
Steve Rogers was just as surprised as everybody else when he turned out to be Alpha, too. Bucky? Well, that was obvious. Bucky was tall and handsome, girls followed him around like he'd been dipped in chocolate, but Steve?
Steve should have been tall – he should. If he'd been fed the way a growing boy should have been fed, and if he'd spent nights under a warm blanket, and if he hadn't been half-killed by his own health, he might have been. He might have grown the wide shoulders of an Alpha instead of having the short stature and brittle bones that were so deceptive.
It didn't take the fight out of him, but perhaps that was worse. Perhaps he would have been better off if each insult and every injustice didn't heat his blood and curl his fists. Perhaps life would have been easier if he'd had the strength to back his words with his hands.
But Steve Rogers looked enough like an Omega that it didn't matter what he thought, or said, didn't matter how hard he fought.
Because Erskine brought friendship with him, brought the acceptance nobody but Bucky had brought before, and he believed when nobody else would.
The man who stepped down out of the metal coffin wasn't just Erskine's supersoldier. He was the man Steve Rogers was meant to be.
Tony Stark, as a complete opposite to the skinny kid from Brooklyn, was incredibly good at hiding what he didn't want people to know.
Stark genes brought a lot of things and, even if the long Alpha-line hadn't followed into his blood, Tony still had everything else.
He was a genius, not to mince words. Handsome – devastatingly so, if he did say so himself. Charismatic – and you only needed to watch any of hundreds, thousands of interviews and videos and public appearances and lectures.
Tony Stark never looked anything else than the most sought-after Alpha in the whole United States, if not the world, and almost everybody went for it.
There were those who knew, of course. Pepper, for one, and Rhodey, and Yinsen. Yinsen had known because it was impossible for him not to have known. And...Stane.
Stane knew. Stane had known the moment Howard discovered it because Stane was the only one Howard trusted with that kind of embarrassment, that kind of disappointment. Because all of those people, most of the people in Tony's life, were Alphas.
Pepper, Rhodey, not Yinsen but that had been different. And Stane. Stane had been Alpha.
And maybe he's subconsciously aware of that when he meets Steve Rogers – a man whose status was never discussed. So maybe he doesn't get on with Steve because Captain Rogers is, as far as Tony knows, the Omega Who Looks Like An Alpha.
Maybe that's even why Steve finds himself annoyed by Tony Stark. Tony Stark, as far as he knows, is the Alpha Who Behaves Like A Lunatic.
So they have their differences. Tony thinks Steve is Omega and above himself. Steve thinks Tony is Alpha and defensive.
But when the truth comes out, it turns out there really isn't time to be surprised. They're too busy trying to fight it. And that's the least of their worries.
Steve opened his eyes slowly, his head swimming. Being a Super-Soldier had advantages, like being able to shake off unsteadiness a little faster than the average guy, but it didn't change the fact that Steve had absolutely no idea where he was.
White room, bright lights and, oh hey, great, no clothes.
He sat up, the white gradually fading until he could make out the other side of the room. Cell – it had to be a cell. It was maybe fifteen feet by fifteen feet, and he couldn't focus on anything. Not yet.
He moved, which was his first mistake because it made the room spin again, and the clink of metal on metal informed him there were chains even before he came back to himself enough to feel them.
Wrists. His wrists were chained and he squinted up at the wall just to check.
Yeah, his wrists were chained by two metal loops about shoulder width apart, but he'd been given a really generous length of chain for each wrist. Almost enough to get to the heap of whatever that was propped up against the wall on the other side of the room.
For now, though, he felt...weird. Itchy, to start with, except it wasn't itching it was...as though his muscles were irritated, and he didn't like the feeling. It made him want to shuck his skin and take a cold shower but there was no chance of that right now.
He looked around – damn but it was bright in here – and couldn't see much besides white, the chain, and that heap of whatever. There was certainly nothing he could pull apart and he rolled towards the wall and pulled against the chains to try and test them.
No give whatsoever, and he pulled a little harder, and a little harder until he was pulling with all his weight, holding himself up off the ground. But to no avail. They were not going to break, and the fixtures were embedded in the walls. Maybe if he broke his hands, he could get out of the manacles, but what good would that do him?
A noise behind him, from across the cell, and he flipped over – still too weak to actually get up – and saw that the heap of whatever was moving. What the hell?
It groaned, low and pained, and Steve knew that voice.
“Tony?” he said hopefully, and the heap groaned again, moving as much as it could.
“Steve?” Tony answered weakly, and Steve tried to push himself up to see better, squinting in the light.
“Yeah, it's me,” he said, his throat dry and his skin tight. “I'm here. Wherever here is.”
Steve's vision was clearing, just one hell of a lot slower than he would have liked, and he could see enough to make Tony out now.
Tony was chained to his wall, too, in a similar state of undress, but his chains were short enough that his whole weight had been hanging from his wrists. The loops in the wall where Tony's chains were anchored weren't shoulder-length apart like Steve's – they were way further apart, pulling his arms up and out far they were stretched tight. They were too high to let him sit on the floor, barely long enough to let him kneel.
“God, what happened?” he mumbled, and Steve shook his head, looking around again in case the receding brightness brought any kind of help with it – a crack in the floor, maybe, the seal of a door. But no such luck.
“I don't know,” Steve answered. “I'm guessing we were captured.”
“I doubt even Fury would go this far,” Tony answered, “not that I'd put it past him to chain naked superheroes to walls in order to get his rocks off but...” Tony groaned again, hanging his head. “Jeez, did we get hit or drugged?”
“I got drugged,” Steve answered, “I can feel it. The serum plays up when it happens but you? I don't know. I can't remember.”
Tony winced, hissing audibly through his teeth. “My head is so heavy,” he said, rolling it against the wall again. “And it aches- Ow!” His whole body went rigid for a second and the chains clattered as he tried to move away from the wall. “Yeah, feels like I got a knot back there.”
Steve nodded, bearing that in mind. Tony would have to be kept awake then.
“What about you?” Tony said slowly. “You got any debilitating injuries?”
“Not that I can tell,” Steve answered, and he pushed up as much as he could until he could sit back against the wall, too. It was way too warm in here and the floor and the walls seemed colder than they ought to with the ambient temperature so high, but Steve didn't care at all. Leaning against the wall was a relief and he'd take what he could get.
“Been up long?” Tony said, and Steve closed his eyes.
“About half a minute longer than you,” he said. “No word on our illustrious hosts so far.”
“Well I wouldn't want to put them to any trouble,” Tony answered and that, at least, brought a smile to Steve's lips, even if it was only fleeting.
“Didn't manage to hide anything clever on you, perchance?” Steve said, and Tony snorted.
“I don't even want to know what you think I'd hide, or where, but the answer's no. Nothing. Everything I could have used was in my clothes – wires in the seams, steel boning in the vest, a key in my watch. But I happen to have had my little stash confiscated. As, apparently, do you.”
Steve looked down at himself. Yeah, he really really didn't like this. “They could have left my shorts,” he said. “I don't hide wire in my clothes.”
“Couldn't risk it, could they?” Tony said tiredly. “Besides, we're too gorgeous to keep covered up. Maybe they'll put us out to stud.”
Steve laughed. “A compliment with some immodesty on the side,” he said. “Only from you, Stark.”
He opened his eyes to find Tony watching him – and that was a good sign. Not only did it mean Tony was coming around properly, it also meant Steve's vision was clearing.
“So,” Tony said, shaking his wrists a little. “What do you think we...”
But Tony's gaze slid up from Steve's face, up way over his head, and then his expression changed from tired-but-amused to absolutely horrified. Steve frowned, pushing himself away from the wall to turn around and look up and...yeah. Yeah, he'd bet he looked just as horrified as Tony.
“Hold your breath,” Steve said, not that it would do either of them any good for long. Steve could hold his breath for nigh on seven minutes but he doubted Tony would last even half that long.
High over both their heads, up by the ceiling, a part of the flawless white wall had sunken back, slid away, to reveal a mesh of wire. Even if they'd been able to reach it, Steve doubted whoever their captors were would have left such an obvious weakness open to attack if they thought they needed to worry about things – but the neon orange smoke or gas or whatever it was that was starting to seep through the gap was probably going to see to that soon enough.
“Steve, get over here,” Tony said darkly, and Steve turned around to do as Tony suggested when he saw another grate, up by the ceiling over Tony's head.
Tony twisted in his chains to look up and, when he looked back, his skin was pale.
“Hold your breath,” Steve said. “As long as you can.”
Tony nodded, but then he shook his head. “This doesn't make sense, they haven't asked us anything.”
“Tony, hold your breath,” Steve said again, and Tony swallowed hard.
“Steve, it's not gonna be enough,” he said.
“Dammit, Stark, you hold your breath or, so help me, I will break your neck.”
“I think I'd rather you broke my neck,” Tony murmured, and the room was starting to look smoky now. Steve wasn't feeling anything, and Tony didn't look like he was either – not for the moment – but Steve shook his head.
“I will,” he said, staring straight at Steve, fingers curling and uncurling. “As long as I can, I will. But I'm sorry.”
“Just do it, Stark!” Steve answered. “Just hold your Goddamn breath!”
And Tony finally, finally did as he was told. Steve did the same a moment later and Tony relaxed back against the wall, closing his eyes.
The orange smoky-stuff kept coming, swirling into the space around them until it was all Steve could do to make Tony out in the dimness, but it was no use. It took maybe thirty seconds until Tony's face started to redden, another five before he looked visibly strained, and the last thing Steve saw before the world became nothing but orange was Tony's eyes snapping open, and the helpless expression on Tony's face as he couldn't hold his breath any longer.
Knocked out. Again.
But that was better than the alternative – better than what Steve had assumed anyway, but it was still hell to come round to. His head was pounding and his eyesight was nothing but a blur again, and his skin felt like it was trying to crawl off his body. The room was clear but his head felt foggy.
He tried to call out for Tony, but it came out a low moan that made his chest vibrate, made it feel like his brain was rattling around inside of his skull, and he shut his eyes against the burn in his muscles. There was something else, something new and it made his hands curl into fists, made his whole body ready to move, to fight, to do something and he tried to move, skin sticking on the smooth floor. He must be sweating, that explained a lot, and it didn't surprise him because the temperature in here was about four times higher than it had been when they pumped the gas in, but it was more than that.
It ran deeper than that and he tried to breathe, tried to clear his head and that was worse, like a knife in his gut that twisted when he tried to curl up on it, no, this was bad, this was so much worse-
He moaned again, pain but not pain pricking its way down his chest and it wasn't getting better – every pain made him gasp and every gasp made the pain worse and it twisted his stomach, stung the back of his throat and the inside of his nose.
And then, because Steve had dared to consider for a split second that maybe this was as bad as it was going to get, Tony woke up. He heard Tony groan, heard Tony's chains clatter, but that wasn't what told Steve Tony was awake, not by far, and now that he knew exactly what the problem was, he wished to high heaven he'd stayed unconscious – Steve knew Tony had woken up because he could smell him.
“Steve?” Tony said weakly and there, there was the sharp tang of confusion and the hot, painful spice of something a whole lot stronger than that and it went straight down inside Steve's body like a whiplash, dragging his blood with it and yeah, great. He lifted his head up and looked but his body didn't like this at all, and was being painfully clear about it.
It felt like a ball of rock in his stomach, hotter by the second, and it was hurting – but it's not hurting – all the way to his fingertips, all the way to his toes.
Tony made a noise like someone had punched him in the face – a sharp gasp and a low groan – and the noise of his body against the wall, of the chains clattering told Steve he'd moved, but Steve didn't need the clues.
Now that he was actually looking, he could see everything so sharply it was almost painful, as though the world had never truly been in focus until that exact moment, and it went along with how much of the world he could feel, how much more of the world he could feel.
The floor was cool but less so where the warmth of his skin seeped slowly into it. Every point his body touched the floor, it was warmer, and he could feel it all as though he lay on a sheet of ice.
“No,” Tony moaned, low and rough, and the movement of the chains was louder this time, stronger but the way he moved, the way he moved was different.
Head back, eyes closed, arching his back away from the wall and Steve dropped his gaze before he knew what he was doing, checking for something he wasn't aware of checking for until Tony moved again, as though he were only half uncomfortable and...
Oh. Oh holy cow, Tony was hard, really hard. And it looked really, really good-
“Stark, what the hell is this?” Steve managed to grind out, because he knew what it felt like, knew what Tony smelled like but this couldn't be right, this couldn't physically be right.
Tony muttered something, wincing immediately, and his hands curled into white-knuckled fists where they were still suspended over his head. “Heat,” he answered – one word and one word only, muttered low and rough and the blush that spread across his cheeks swept down all the way to his chest and right up to his hairline.
“How?” Steve said because what in the world could do that? But Tony chuckled bitterly, a sound that descended into pained gasps almost immediately.
“I don't know,” he said through gritted teeth, squirming against the wall. “Overrode the suppressants or- ah! -or something.”
“Suppressants?” Steve hissed, automatically moving and finding it to be a very bad idea indeed. He looked down at himself and...yeah, he was just as hard as Tony. He shut his eyes, shook his head. “You're not Alpha?”
Tony's eyes opened, dark and glittering, and he managed to look at Steve though he already looked pretty out of it. “No, I'm...” And then Tony was raking him with his gaze. “Jeez, Rogers,” he breathed. “That kind of body's really not fair. A-And you...What is that smell, is that...”
“That's me,” Steve answered, wondering if he sounded as pissed off as he was somehow managing to feel over the steadily increasing find-the-omega mantra playing itself in the back of his mind. “That's me, Stark, I'm Alpha.”
Tony's gaze flicked back up to meet his own and Steve knew he hadn't imagined the confusion, or the anxiety, there. Tony wet his lips and Steve shut his eyes, turned his head away for a second and tried not to think about licking Tony's lips. It didn't work, and he found himself staring at them.
“You're Alpha?” Tony breathed, pushing himself back against the wall just a little. “You...Rogers, you're Alpha?”
“Yeah, I'm Alpha, and you're not.”
“How?” Tony breathed. “Serum?”
“Nature,” Steve bit out. “Nurture's what made me look like an Omega but I was never one for real – Stark, I thought we were both Alpha!”
“I thought we were both Omega!” Tony answered. “What do you want me to do- oh, screw this. I'll feel better without a raging hard-on, gimme two minutes.”
Steve watched him, lying still on the ground so as not to aggravate his own freaking skin any further, as Tony pulled himself up using the chains for leverage. For a second, Steve didn't get it. Why was Tony trying to stand up? That would let him see more of the room, Steve supposed, and it would mean his arms weren't stretched out over his head. In fact, it would put his hands about level with his hips...oh.
“You're really gonna...” Steve said, absolutely refusing to finish that sentence.
“Why not?” Tony answered. “The only Alpha here is you and I can't think without any blood in my brain. You should, too.”
And Steve didn't really want to accept the fact that Tony could be right. Then again, if it got them out of this – or even just let them think clearly for a little while – then it could be worth the embarrassment, especially given that the room they were currently chained in happened to be the entire sum of their knowledge about their captors.
Tony finally managed to get his feet under him – the chains were so short that he couldn't get away from the wall – and then he got onto his feet. Steve shut his eyes, ducking his head towards his chest as he curled up on himself to give Tony a little privacy and the tension in his stomach a rest, wondering if he should hum just so Tony knew he couldn't hear. And then he realized that humming probably wouldn't be conducive to Tony's situation at all.
And then there was silence for maybe three seconds before Tony spoke. “You have got to be kidding me.”
And Steve hesitated but decided on looking up again when he didn't hear anything to find that Tony was standing up all right, bare feet flat on the floor with a face like thunder. Because, even when he stood on his toes, his hands were still just too high to provide any kind of relief at all.
Steve frowned at him, shook his head to clear it and then stared at Tony as he turned, stood on his toes and moved around a little. It made it difficult not to watch his erection sway with the movement, and Tony winced, tried again and still couldn't reach with the length of chain they'd given him. And then he gave up with a groan of frustration and just leaned against the wall instead.
“Well, good,” he said, chest heaving. “That's just...yeah. Great.”
Steve frowned at him. “Can't reach?” he said, more to himself really than to Tony, but Tony gave him a look anyway.
“If I could bend over and suck it myself, I would, but no, Captain Obvious, I can't reach.” He looked down at himself, head on one side. “Jeez, I can't even turn around,” he muttered and...yeah, that might have worked if his arms weren't out so far. The wall might have been smooth but it might have offered some kind of relief. “Hey, how long are your chains?”
Steve frowned and twisted where he lay to look at them, and his whole body protested the movement, a wave of heat spreading right over him when his skin dragged against the floor. He wasn't aware he'd groaned about it until the sound reached his ears and he still didn't know for sure.
“Wait a second,” he said. “I'll check.”
“Can't you do it now?” Tony said, and Steve didn't want to move at all. Actually, if he'd had a choice, he'd have asked Tony to come on over but that certainly wasn't possible and it wasn't fair to leave Tony like that. Not if he could get over there and snap Tony's chains for him.
He got his hands under himself and pushed, and he made it onto all fours before the room lurched around him. He gasped in shock and there was that smell again, Tony's smell, sending sparks down his spine.
“Ugh,” he managed, squeezing his eyes shut to crawl.
One hand in front of the other, left knee after right knee and it felt like crawling through molasses and needles at the same time. When he stopped short, the chains reaching the end of their length, he almost fell flat on his face again, and he lifted his head to look at Tony.
If he flipped over and lay down, stretched out with his feet towards Tony, he'd still be about five feet away.
“No, no,” Tony said, “no, that's not fair, Rogers, that's not fair, you can't just-”
“The chains don't go any further!” Steve answered. “There's nothing I can do, I can't...” He tugged on the chains, pulled harder and then pulled harder still, throwing his whole weight against them. And they didn't budge. Steve did, squeaking back on the floor a few inches with the tension and God it hurt.
“Okay,” Tony breathed. “Okay, okay, this is fine, we just...I just...don't think about it. I can do that.”
“Are you serious?” Steve growled, and then he shut his mouth because he was pretty sure neither of them wanted to hear the next thing to come out of it.
“What?” Steve said, narrowing his eyes against the too-bright light and the too-bright colors in Tony's skin.
“Turn around,” Tony repeated. “Go back, it's not fair, I can't...” He swallowed hard. “I can't deal with you this close if I can't reach you, go back, Steve!”
Steve curled his hands into fists. “Fine,” he said. “Just give me a minute.”
“I said give me a minute,” Steve answered, and he wasn't sure that would do it, actually.
His body was thrumming – felt like every nerve was starting to sing and he squeezed his eyes shut.
“I can't,” he said, words hard and short, “I don't...I...Tony...”
“God, you smell so good,” Tony whined, and Steve shook his head.
If Tony's chains had just been close together and high, he could have pulled himself up with them, if Steve's were just a little weaker he could have snapped them by now, if they'd just been a little longer-
“How the hell did they...?” he breathed, because nobody should know that kind of information, nobody should be able to use it against them.
“I don't-” Tony answered, cut off by a gasp, and he sank his teeth into his lower lip as his body shuddered.
It made the chains rattle, made his muscles tense, made his cock move and Steve licked his lips. He could smell Tony like he was drowning in him and he'd never felt like this before. He'd been around Omegas, been around one or two in heat but it had been nothing like this.
“Can't you just gnaw your hands off and...come and...” this time it was a low moan that cut Tony off and one foot lifted for a moment, as though he were trying to trap his cock between his thighs for friction and Steve wasn't aware he was staring at it until Tony gave another whine. “That's not fair, don't look at it like that,” he breathed. “Not unless you can follow through.”
If Steve could have, he would have, but he yanked the chains again for good measure and all they did was pull tight.
“Stop squirming,” he said, his voice lower than he intended, rougher too. “Stop it, Tony.”
“Stop it!” Steve answered. “Every time you move, I smell more of you and if I break out of these, you're not gonna like what I-”
“Do it,” Tony whispered, eyes barely open, lips already bitten red, as though he'd been kissed too roughly. “Do it, break them, come and-”
Steve closed his eyes to stop looking at Tony. “Stop talking or I swear, Stark-”
“Whoever this is, I'm gonna kill them when you get your hands on me-"
And if Tony was forgetting where he was going with a sentence when he was already half way through it, then they were in much more trouble than Steve had thought.
“Steve, I-I want you, I want you-”
“No you don't,” Steve answered, rolling onto his stomach in the hopes that the floor was cool. It wasn't. “You don't want me and I don't want you, it's the drugs, Tony, try not to-”
“You don't want me?” Tony said, and he sounded like he had no idea what was going on. “Steve, you don't-”
“Focus!” Steve yelled at him, opening his eyes to glare, and Tony went silent, went still. “Stop thinking about me, stop thinking about you, we have to get out of here.”
But it was no use. Tony was quiet for all of five seconds, and then he sounded half like he was choking and half like he was drowning and Steve looked at him out of anxiety, out of the awful fear that the drug was doing something else but it wasn't that. It wasn't that, it was that Tony was writhing against the wall, rubbing against it like he might if it were Steve- if it was an Alpha, any Alpha, any other Alpha at all and he tipped his head back, baring his throat.
Steve's fingernails bit into his palm and he didn't care – maybe the pain would help ground him, distract him from the desire to sink his teeth in, mark Tony's skin.
“Please, please,” Tony said, and this was so far from good, so far from right but Tony was squirming, pushing back against the wall and Steve's hips shuddered forward, sweat-slick skin squeaking on the cold, hard, white floor, “please, I want you, I need you to-”
“I know,” Steve whispered, squeezing his eyes shut again, “I know.”
For a few minutes there was silence – if you could call it that. Tony's breathing, the cut off moans he was trying not to give, the rattle of the chains and, God Steve was harder than he'd ever been in his life. But then Steve realized he couldn't think inside his head, he needed to think outside of it.
“This isn't supposed to work,” he whispered. “This isn't supposed to work on me.”
“Anybody can-” Tony hiccuped, or something like it “-four times the dose and we're...I'm not...”
Tony wasn't a Supersoldier. Tony must have breathed four times the dose of whatever this was and Tony's body was not equipped to handle it.
“Steve, I'm gonna burst, I need you, it's...Steve it hurts-”
“I KNOW!” Steve roared, and Tony's startled, breathing suddenly faster, body suddenly still. It didn't last but Steve needed those precious few seconds.
They gave him clarity, enough time to think, and if he could just remember what he was trying to think of before Tony-
“I can't,” Tony told him, a dry sob of desperation and, when Steve looked at him, the insides of his thighs were glistening, there was a line of precome leaking steadily down the length of Tony's cock and Steve wanted all of that, wanted to feel that, to use that. “I need you, I need something,” Tony managed, voice frantic as he twisted his wrists in the cuffs, “Steve, Steve, what do they want?”
“I don't know,” Steve whispered, palming his cock to try and ease the ache, to try and push back the burning need to reach Tony as if that might somehow help Tony, too, but it was so easy to curl his fingers, to wrap them around himself and just-
“Show me,” Tony gasped, “please, Steve, show me, if I can't...maybe I can just...just from watching, please, please, show me!”
Steve shook his head, pulling his hand away.
“No,” he groaned, dragging himself sideways. Getting Tony more worked up wouldn't help, there was no way he could come without contact – that was the point of heat and he'd heard of men driven mad by seeing without having.
He kept pulling his body away, inch by inch, Tony's desperate pleas for him to stay damn near changing his mind just because of Tony's tone of voice. “Please, don't go, don't,” but he couldn't let Tony stop him.
By the time he reached his wall again, his skin was burning from the friction and the urge to turn back, precome dripping so much he damn near slipped in it, and Tony was reduced to half-formed words and gasps that half-stuck in his throat. Steve could smell him, like there was nothing else but Tony, like Tony was standing right next to him and Steve rolled onto his back and groaned through his teeth.
“What!?” he yelled at the ceiling. “What do you want!?”
But no answer came and he figured it didn't matter anyway – Tony's heart could give out, and for all he knew his own heart could give out, and those would make incredible headlines, those would make world-ruining pictures. Tony Stark and Captain America, dead, and hard, and still desperate for sex with the last breaths they'd taken, and Steve wasn't going to think about that, couldn't think about that, but the absence of thinking about anything else only left Tony and he knew, as soon as he turned his head to look, that he'd been lucky to think of anything else at all.
Tony was rubbing his thighs together, head back, hair absolutely soaked and Steve knew his own was the same, that he had the same red rings around his wrists under the cuffs, but he couldn't take his eyes of Tony's cock to check.
Tony wasn't kidding, Steve wasn't surprised he looked more in pain than anything else – his cock was full and hard and deep, dark red and they'd both be lucky if they didn't have permanent damage by the time this was over – if they even got out of this at all.
Steve rolled onto his side, to face away from Tony, and used the wall as leverage to curl his legs up under him. If he could stand, if he could use the chains somehow, maybe he'd reach the vent and maybe then he could do something that would help them but Steve was no sooner on his feet than Tony whined, long and high and loud, keening on his next breath out.
Steve lifted his head enough to see him and he couldn't tell if it was sweat or tears on Tony's skin but he knew the next sound for pain – it was hard and short, and Tony made it over and over, one for each breath he took, body bowing forwards as far as it could as Tony hiccoughed, gasped and keened again. “Steve!”
And every instinct Steve had ever had and ignored, crashed into him like a freight train coming off the tracks – sharp and jagged, uncontrolled and unstoppable.
He was aware of his own voice yelling out in rage, aware of Tony's desperate repetition of his name, but he was at the end of his chains by then, full weight against the taut metal, heels braced on the floor, body leaning forwards and Tony was so close, Tony was right there and Steve lurched forward as a loud crack sounded behind him, every muscle straining, blood roaring in his ears. Another crack, and another, and then he was hurtling forwards so fast he'd have crashed into Tony if he hadn't gotten his hands up in time.
Instead, he staggered forward with his own momentum, hands either side of Tony's head on the wall with his chains still trailing behind him, and Tony stared up at him, smell so strong Steve could taste him and it took everything he had left not to break his arms turning him just to take him right there.
“Ple-” Tony got as far as saying, and then Steve was kissing him, kissing him, oh, God, “oh, God, Steve,” and this was too much, too fast but Steve didn't, couldn't, care any more.
Tony's mouth was sweet and hot and tasted like nothing Steve had ever tasted before and he lost himself in it as soon as Tony' s mouth opened under his own, bracing his own hands against the wall because he knew, he knew he couldn't touch him – couldn't remember why but knew it was true – and tilted his head, forgetting to pay attention to the tenuous grasp he still had on his understanding of their situation.
Light, hard and bright and hot and stinging, swept up his spine, scattering behind his eyelids as Tony arched up against him in his chains-
“Wait,” Steve gasped, gritting his teeth, and Tony kissed his throat instead, “Tony, wait,” but Tony hummed against his skin, pressed his body closer.
Steve knew he wouldn't listen, wouldn't hear, and he shook his head, ducking down. Even he didn't know what he was doing until he'd gotten his shoulder under Tony, under the back of Tony's legs and lifted. The back of Tony's thighs were slick and hot on his shoulder and he wanted, oh, he wanted, but Tony's hysterical half-laugh, half-sob was enough that some part of Steve knew that whatever his body was doing for Tony, it had worked.
Hand braced on the wall, with his other arm keeping Tony perched on his shoulder, Steve didn't recognize the rhythm of the chains above him until it was repetitive enough that it broke through the screaming of his own blood in his ears, and then Tony was making a noise Steve hadn't even known he could make, a low wail of what sounded like relief, body stiffening, hips snapping up so far and so fast that he almost shifted right off Steve's shoulder, and would have if Steve hadn't managed to keep his grip on Tony's thighs. And then wet warmth was dripping down his back.
“Oh, Steve,” Tony was gasping, his body moving with the force of the breaths he was taking, “Steve, Steve-”
Orgasm, Steve's brain supplied from somewhere, and the chains didn't stop clinking – he'd lifted Tony far enough that the chains had gone slack, that he'd been able to reach himself, that he'd been able to use his hands and stop the build of hormones or blood or whatever; Steve couldn't wrap his head around it and Tony was still moving his hand.
“Tony,” he said through gritted teeth because he had to move now, he had to go, he had to get away from Tony or he was still going to break Tony's arms like so much balsa wood.
“Down,” Tony croaked at him, “I'm okay, put me-”
Steve almost dropped him, managing to set Tony on his feet only because he fell to his knees first, and Tony edged off his shoulder of his own accord, the chains only letting him move far enough to get down before he was standing right in front of Steve.
“I'm sorry,” Steve gasped, still on his knees because he couldn't get up any more, “Tony, I'm sorry, I-”
“It's okay, I'm here-”
“Don't,” Steve groaned, “don't say it, I won't do it-”
“Just lift my hips up, just lift me up-”
“Bend me in two, I know you can, you can have me against the wall just-”
“Stop it,” Steve answered, face pressed to Tony's stomach and he didn't realize he was kissing the skin until Tony's hips eased forward under his chin, sweat and skin and Tony.
“Please, Steve,” Tony whispered, and Steve squeezed his eyes shut, “please, this is what I want.”
“It's not,” Steve answered, gritting his teeth until he knew for certain he could explain why Tony was wrong instead of just telling Tony he was right. “You don't know what you want, they put you in heat, I'm not doing a damn thing to you until you can think for yourself.”
But his hands were on the backs of Tony's thighs, his mouth was pressed to thin, dark line of hair that ran down from Tony's navel and he could feel the sweat beading – on his own skin, and on Tony's – trickling down milimeter by milimeter, everywhere, his cock still hard and leaking against Tony's shin because Tony had planted his foot on the floor between Steve's knees.
And as if he'd read Steve's mind, he moved his leg forward, just a little, just enough. The moan was out of Steve's mouth before he could cut it off and he held Tony's thighs tighter, trying to will him to stop.
Steve didn't care what they were under the influence of – there was no way in hell he was going to let himself be reduced to that, grinding against Tony's leg like an animal. “Stand still.”
“Have sex with me.”
“Then why should I do what you're asking me?” Tony breathed, Steve just tall enough that the chains let Tony brush the tips of the strands of Steve's hair with the tips of his fingers.
Steve shook his head and he wished Tony was angry with him, wished Tony was yelling at him, but he wasn't. He was just talking, just asking, with a voice that would have been soothing if it weren't still so rough.
“Because it's the same reasons,” Steve managed, almost all of his weight rocking forward against Tony now. “We can't do this, we can't let them make us, we're stronger than this.”
“Maybe you are-”
“I...” Steve swallowed hard, tried not to let his tongue dart out and taste Tony, “care too much about you to...” he rubbed his cheek against Tony's skin instead, squeezing his legs together with Tony's trapped between them because he couldn't help it, “ruin us by giving you...” he slid his hands down Tony's thighs and back again, “what you're asking for now,” nothing more than a whisper against Tony's skin, “when you're not in your right mind.”
“What if I'm in my right mind?” Tony answered. “What if coming hard enough to forget my name eradicates the drug?”
And Steve looked up at him – it was a stupid thing to do and he should never have done it, never have assumed he could look up at Tony and not be lost – to find Tony staring back, looking just about as bad as Steve felt.
Tony's fingertips wiggled near his face, he could see them out of the corner of his eye, but he'd leaned into the touch before he'd even registered what the movement was.
“It's not so bad now,” he said, breaths still coming hard and fast, “now you're not so...” frantic “it's easier now...”
“It won't last,” Tony answered, his voice soft, “I can feel it, it's still there, it's going to get bad again, and what then?”
“I'll think of something.”
Steve tried very hard not to think about it, not to consider it, not to dwell on how hopeless it was. And that made more sense. That made more sense than any of it.
Why ask questions when you could do this to two friends? Tony was right, Steve knew that. If Tony got worse each time his body wanted Steve – as he probably would, this was heat after all – it was only a matter of time before Steve's instincts overtook his common sense, his understanding of reality, and then...
Then it wouldn't matter what Tony wanted or didn't want.
“I'm giving you permission,” Tony told him, hissing through his teeth a moment later, and Steve could smell the difference as his cock left a wet line up Tony's shin. “I'm giving you permission-”
“You don't have...the capacity to do that,” Steve answered, just about ready to start trying to punch through the walls, his body winding tight as his labored breathing interfered with his speech. “I'm...not...going to.”
“Steve,” Tony warned, fingers trying to curl in his hair, hips trying to inch forward. “Steve, it's...it's coming back-”
“Can you...” Tony gasped, swallowing thickly, “can you break my chains?”
Steve squinted up at them.
“I can...try, why, what-”
“If you won't do it for me, you can't just leave me without-”
“Right,” Steve whispered. “Right, I got it, I just...”
Tony waited, a good long time considering, and when the end of the sentence hadn't made any kind of appearance, he wiggled his fingers at Steve again.
“I don't know if I can stand,” Steve answered, once he'd taken in enough air to do it, and he knelt up to press his face to Tony's stomach. “This isn't fair.”
“I-I know,” Tony answered, and Steve shook his head. No, Tony didn't know. Tony could guess – the gas or drugs or whatever were making him think he knew, but Tony didn't. Not for real.
“I want you,” Steve whispered against Tony's skin. “You can't possibly know how much I want you, but I won't have you like this.”
“Then break my chains,” Tony said, more desperate by the second. “Steve you did it with yours you can do it with mine-”
And there is was again, a fresh flood of a smell that turned Steve's mind into a complete mess and drew his body tight.
“I'm sorry,” Tony whispered, hips shuddering forward, and Steve made himself pull away from the warmth of Tony's skin and the strength of what little contact they had. “Steve, I'm so sorry-”
“Stand still,” Steve said, pushing himself sideways to lean against the wall, using it for support as he staggered to his feet again.
“Steve?” Tony said vaguely, and Steve looked down at the cuffs still locked around his wrists, the chains still dragging behind him, the white wall on the other side of the room with two huge chunks missing, the white floor with brown dust and pieces of wall scattered over it.
“I don't know if I can do it again,” Steve told him. “I'm not sure I can- mmph!”
Tony tasted better than he smelled, sweet and hot and it was so different to what Steve had always expected, spice the air Steve was breathing and Tony's hair was so soft and his cock was so hard against Steve's thigh-
“Stop, Tony!” Steve gasped, covering Tony's mouth with his hand so he wouldn't go back of his own accord. “Don't...you can't...”
“Feels better when I'm kissing you,” Tony breathed as soon as Steve dropped his hand, eyes flicking between Steve's eyes, lips and cock and Steve skittered back a step when Tony pushed his hips forward to try and fit them against his own.
And Steve knew, knew firsthand, if he was burning without Tony then kissing him was like a cool glass of water in the middle of the desert. But he couldn't let that make up his mind, couldn't let that be what made his decisions.
“Hold still,” Steve said, reaching up past Tony, ignoring Tony's mouth on his chest when he reached up.
But he couldn't ignore it, and he found himself with his hands on Tony's head a moment later, holding Tony against him because his mouth was cool, soothing on Steve's burning skin and Steve was taller than Tony, by quite a way, so it shouldn't have surprised him that, where Tony couldn't reach himself for relief, he could reach Steve.
Steve gasped, moaned and doubled over, and Tony's fingers tightened around his aching cock, wrist flicking once or twice – the angle was awkward and the movements small but Steve wanted that, needed that and he could have given in to it so easily-
“Stay,” Tony whispered, kissing a line up Steve's chest, up his throat and Steve's mouth was on Tony's neck, too. When Tony's mouth reached his ear, Tony bit down and Steve shouldn't have wanted that, shouldn't have hauled Tony closer and tried to taste more of him. And then Tony groaned softly. “Next time I'm in heat, you're gonna be here, right?”
And that was enough to snap Steve back into the present and their actual situation. He knew he ought to count himself lucky – if their captors had provided a cot, he'd probably have screwed Tony right through it by now but the cold walls and cold floor and cold light were enough to bring him back from the edge of insanity.
“Wait, Tony,” he said, and he chased Tony's lips anyway before he could stop himself. “Mmph, stop, I need to get the-”
If Steve didn't know nobody had kicked him in the stomach, he'd have looked for his assailant. As it was, Tony moaned at him, halfway to hysterical again already, and Steve reached up and grabbed the nearest chain as arousal doubled him over.
“I can't,” he gasped, pain and want twisting everything up inside him. It felt like it was tearing his stomach open, winding the muscles in his thighs fit to snap and he'd kill to have Tony now, to just take him, just once, and Tony'd even said that he could-
No, he couldn't, couldn't let it make him do this, couldn't let it make him hurt Tony just to-
Just to have him, just to feel him, just to sink into him and let scent and pulse and skin and Tony just wash over him.
“Steve?” Tony whined, and Steve's fingers tightened on his wrist - when had Steve grabbed his wrist? - stepping towards him. Tony's expression was caught somewhere between afraid and hopeful and Steve felt rather than heard the growl deep in his own chest as he pushed Tony tight against the wall, pinning him there with his body.
Steve was way more powerful than Tony if Tony wasn't wearing the suit – Tony wouldn't be able to push him away and Steve curled his hands into fists to stop himself grabbing for Tony's legs and bending him in two and just-
The crack that sounded behind him was louder this time, more like a crash, and he whirled to face it, standing before he knew how, feet planted far enough apart that he could stand with his head and his shoulders down.
In front of Tony, nobody was going to get to Tony.
Someone was talking to him, somebody was telling him something but all he knew was the sudden blurred black on the other side of the room – a door? And the people coming through it.
“Don't you dare,” he growled, and one of the black shapes came closer. “Don't you dare!”
And he lunged for it – there was no way it was going to get Tony, he was going to save Tony and the black thing sidestepped him, a hard blow to the back of his head pushing him down onto his hands and knees and he groaned as he hit the floor but he managed to turn.
One of them, one of the black shapes, was by Tony, in front of Tony, hand under his jaw and-
“NO!” Steve yelled.
“Please, please, God,” Tony said, “please, I-”
And then Tony was slumping to hang by his chains, unconscious – Steve hoped, prayed for unconscious, instead of-
“Stay down, Cap,” someone was telling him and something inside Steve's addled brain recognized that voice, but it was too late to be able to place it.
“Don't touch him!” Steve yelled, flinging his arm out, and his leg, to try and get up, to try and face the threat and Tony, save Tony! but he didn't and he didn't even get his legs under him before he was flat on his back instead, staring up at another black shape that was looming over him.
“I'm real sorry about this, Cap,” the voice said, and then there was a bright flare of pain that took his sense of up and down away from him, wetness on his mouth, in his nose.
And then everything went black.
The rescue mission did not go well.
Aside from the fact that it took far too long to break into the facility, it also took to long to locate the...breeding chambers, Jesus, Tony was never ever going to forget that. The chains, according to the facility schematics, were precautionary. If they'd been any other couple – not that they were any kind of couple, Tony reminded himself – there were release controls for the manacles that would have been used if actual breeding had been required. Permitted. Enforced.
Breeding, it still made Tony shudder. But that explained the lack of visible exits, the type and lengths of chain for him and for Steve. Of course they'd keep his hands out of his reach, of course they'd keep the Omega out of reach of the Alpha.
Even if, ordinarily, it was just so everyone would be out of the room when instinct kicked in.
But after that, after Steve had damned near lost his mind, after Steve had pulled his own chains from the walls (and Steve had been lucky the wall had given way first), after Steve had held him and kissed him and supported him so that Tony could get what his body was screaming out for, Steve had been...
Tony wasn't about to lie – Steve Rogers, naked and desperate wasn't just something of a fantasy – it had a full-blown storyline in Tony's head, and had done for years. And yeah, having Steve Rogers naked and desperate and right in front of him, with nothing between them but Captain America's restraint, was something Tony could potentially have really enjoyed.
But Steve...well, Steve had done the right thing. He'd kept to himself as much as he could, he'd tried his damnedest and Tony hated the words he could still remember saying, hated the pleas he still remembered begging, but Steve had stood strong right until Hawkeye and Widow came crashing in.
Which would have been great if Steve had recognised them. And then, because of the damned serum, the only thing that was ever going to work was the kind of crack Clint had given Steve's skull. Tony, thank God, had been given sedatives – and he'd practically begged for those as well – but he'd come to on one of the medical jets en route back to the Helicarrier, to see that Steve was on the next bed over, uncomfortable even under the light sheet, barely conscious, highly feverish, hormones raging so hard Tony could taste it, and still hard as a rock.
He'd asked somebody about it – didn't know who and didn't particularly care – while Steve's chest rose and fell so fast he half looked like he was having a fit. And he'd been told exactly the same thing he'd been thinking; There's nothing we can do.
Because anaesthetic might work on Tony, but they wouldn't on Steve. Painkillers and sedatives might ease the ache and burn for Tony but they wouldn't work on Steve. Suppressants might let Tony finally think clearly and let his blood pressure and heart rate come down and make his body stop preparing itself for something it wasn't going to get, but they wouldn't work on Steve.
So Tony had been forced to leave.
He couldn't go with Steve, not until he'd showered and changed and been debriefed and been provided with the medication he was going to need to take for the next week until the heat cycle died down enough that he could go back to his own, regular, comfortable suppressants.
But that didn't mean he wasn't going to keep an eye on Steve.
As soon as he'd made it home, he'd showered. Jerked off twice because the medication hadn't completely kicked in by then and once was apparently not enough. And then he'd had J.A.R.V.I.S dig through the various information coming out of SHIELD until he found what he was looking for.
And there was Steve. Without suppressants, without painkillers or sedatives or the Omega his body was still waiting for, Steve was lying in a room by himself, in one of those generic beds SHIELD liked to put all their most important people in from time to time, with his head back and his body rigid.
The two cameras in the room didn't really give Tony much. The only reason for a second camera at all was to cover the blind spot underneath the first one. And both of them let him see Steve.
And yes, Tony would have been relatively happy to admit to at least half the team that, ordinarily, coming across security feed that showed Steve Rogers flat out and masturbating would have been one hell of a major plus, even if Steve was still technically covered by a sheet.
But, ordinarily, Tony suspected that Steve's face might have been a little different.
Tony had spent a long time picturing something like this. Taut stomach muscles and veins that stood out of Steve's forearms, head back, eyes closed, lips parted, moaning like he'd never felt anything like it before.
Never in a million years had he thought that Steve's skin would be flushed so red he looked to have an all-body sunburn, or that his hair and his body would actually be so sweat-sodden they were marking the pillowcase and the sheets, or that he'd be gasping and groaning like he'd been stabbed, or that his face...God, his face...
Tony couldn't remember ever seeing someone so miserable, so in pain, working so desperately hard.
Just from the way Steve's muscles moved, Tony could tell his body was bowstring tight. His left arm was moving, slower than Tony would have thought it might but J.A.R.V.I.S' information told him Steve had been right where he was for hours. So yeah, left had made sense – his right hand would have tired. And, from the look of it, the left was getting tired too.
"Please," Tony heard, short and sharp and said between gasping breaths, ”Oh, please, please, this time, come on...come on...”
He pushed himself further – head further back, body tighter, hand moving faster. And, when he held his breath, Tony waited for it. He waited for that last, shuddering gasp Steve's body would give, the groan that would follow, the relief that would come after it.
But it didn't come.
Steve didn't come.
And when he finally gave up, releasing the breath he'd been holding in a frustrated rush, letting go of his cock, body relaxing as much as it was going to, he flung his right arm over his eyes and coughed. At least, it sounded like a cough, but the security feed was a little grainy, and Tony couldn't be sure that the moisture he'd seen on Steve's temples came from his skin and not his eyes.
“Oh, God,”Steve whispered desperately, twisting on the bed, turning onto his side to curl up, hands pressed to his stomach, then between his legs. “Please, just once...”
And, after that, Tony was sure Steve would sleep, or try to calm his body. But he didn't. He rolled onto his back and tried again, still hard, his arms so obviously still tired, and he hissed through his teeth, head snapping back as his hips rolled up.
And it didn't matter what angle you looked at it from – and Tony checked both provided – Steve Rogers was not enjoying himself. He was in pain, a lot of pain.
He gave a short, low cry and switched hands, biting his lip as his brow furrowed, trying to concentrate, trying to block out the rest of the world as he shook his now-free hand - must have given himself cramp – and he was making small, barely-there sounds, and he was trying so hard to breathe, and his breath hitched once over a sound Tony instinctively knew to listen for, though he didn't know why until Steve made it again.
Tony's blood warmed, despite Steve's obvious pain, eyes flicking to the shape of Steve's cramping hand trying desperately to bring himself off under the sheet.
Tony wet his lips, doing his best to ignore the sheen of sweat on Steve's skin,
And Tony looked at the small bottle of pills that sat on the worktable. One three times a day to keep his cycle suppressed until it was due to end.
“J.A.R.V.I.S,” he said. “Put me through to Fury.”
“Yes, Sir,” J.A.R.V.I.S answered.
“No, wait!” Tony said, and there was a ringing silence as he thought it over, as he considered the years behind him and the words Steve had said.
You can't possibly know how much I want you, but I won't have you like this.
Not like that, not the way they'd been flung together and forced into such a situation. But then when? Wasn't that the implication? He wanted Tony but not like this. Like some other way instead?
I care too much about you to ruin us by giving you what you're asking for now, when you're not in your right mind.
And when Tony had answered him, looked straight at him and said, 'What if I'm in my right mind?' all Steve had done was stare. And Tony was pretty sure he hadn't been imagining the hope in his eyes.
Whether or not it had been long-standing, whether or not that hope lay any deeper than the stimulant they'd both been subjected to and the physical response Steve had tried so valiantly to ignore, remained to be seen.
“No,” Tony said again. “Get me Bruce. And get me Coulson.”
And Tony could have sworn there was something conspiratorial about the way J.A.R.V.I.S answered, “Yes, Sir.”
Steve was going to die. He was pretty sure about it anyway – and wouldn't that be just fantastic? The man who survived a world war and a deep freeze only to die from...
What could he even call it?
What were you supposed to say – when your blood pressure wouldn't come down and your breathing wouldn't even and you couldn't see for the headache and couldn't move for the heat and couldn't stand for the painful intensity of your own unabatable erection – beyond 'humiliation'?
But there was nothing to be done, apparently. Bruce had started running tests as soon as Steve had been brought onto the Medijet and had so far found only, much to everyone's surprise, that whatever stimulant had been pumped into the chamber (and if Steve never heard the phrase Breeding Chamber again, it would be too soon) had not affected him.
It had been all Tony. Tony's hormones, Tony's heat cycle, Tony's body crying out for Steve's, and it shouldn't have been as bad as it was. If Steve had been alone in the room, he might have stood there, bored and naked, until the rescue party crashed through the wall, because the stimulant had been designed for Omegas, and Steve's unconsciousness had been nothing more than lack of oxygen in a room filled with gas.
But his response to Tony, well...Tony's heat was some four times greater than it should have been – but something more severe suppressants could still stop, apparently, and Tony would be fine. Tony would be fine. Tony didn't even really need to keep taking his tablets – if he chose, he'd endure a normal heat now the first, induced cycle had been interrupted. But Steve's reaction shouldn't have been that strong, for a first response, in such a short period of time unless...
Steve could still barely believe the things he'd been told.
Steve's reaction should not have been that strong unless he and Tony were chemically and hormonally compatible.
Back when Steve had been...back before he'd been frozen, they'd called it matching, sharing, couples were matched or shared or bonded - bonded - and he'd been Steve, the Littlest Alpha, who'd given up waiting for a bond nobody wanted to form. Now, it was accidental, and he couldn't get rid of it.
Bruce had told him, with the gravest expression Steve had ever seen him wear, that Tony would either have a normal heat or no heat at all, depending on whether or not he took his pills. And it would be his choice.
But Steve? Well, there was nothing they could do for Steve. The serum, and the compatibility, and the super-heat Steve had forced his body to resist...nothing, so Bruce said, would help him now except satisfaction through a compatible bond. And they were working to find a suitable match just so Steve could get over this but it didn't look hopeful.
Someone Steve didn't know, a male nurse who evidently didn't really have a great grasp on what Steve considered good news, had said that it might just be that Steve's entire reproductive system became irreparably damaged, instead of him suffering a stroke, or succumbing to entire cardiovascular system failure.
And Steve could understand that well enough to get the gist - either you die, or you've had your last orgasm. And considering he'd never actually had one with anyone else, he saw that as highly unfair.
But once they established there was nothing he could do, they left. And had pretty much stayed gone. They were leaving him well alone, and Steve didn't doubt why – according to all the research, all the tests, his body would calm if he could just achieve orgasm. But he couldn't. Couldn't come, couldn't knot, couldn't get rid of the buzzing hum in the pit of his stomach, the stinging pain in his thighs and cock and...everywhere important. It felt like someone was kicking him in the balls with shoes tipped with hot needles, and it was happening every time he moved.
And he couldn't do it any more. Both hands were aching, his chest was heaving, his skin was burning, his head was pounding, and he couldn't, no matter what they told him to take or what they administered or what advice they gave, he couldn't sleep. He couldn't stand. He couldn't come.
“I can't,” he whispered at the ceiling between heaving gulps of air, because this was really going to be it, wasn't it? This was really what was going to kill him – Tony's forced super-heat, their hyper compatibility (as Bruce suggested), and his body's inability to calm the hell down.
If that were true, maybe he should just ask them to amputate, and pray nobody else got wind of it.
And it was at that point that Steve started hearing things. He heard voices, shouting, crashing around and he figured this for a flashback. He must have a fever by now, flashbacks wouldn't surprise him, and he had the strangest thought that he didn't want his mind's constructions of his dead friends to see him this way.
He didn't want an imagined Bucky, or Tim, or-
“I have clearance from a Level Seven Agent so you get your hands off me and let me solve his problem!!”
Steve opened his eyes as the door swung open so hard it bounced back off the wall, and then he had enough time to register that he wasn't hearing things because it just so happened to really be Tony Stark slamming the door closed behind him, before Tony's smell hit him full force.
“Hey, Cap,” Tony said, tugging his jacket off his shoulders, and Steve turned his head away.
“Get out,” Steve gasped because, God, he'd thought it was bad before.
“No,” Tony answered, coming to stand by the bed, and Steve just stared at him, doing his absolute best not to breakdown and beg Tony to just shoot him already. “Listen good 'cause we're running out of time.”
“I talked to Bruce. We're compatible, you're in one hell of a lot of trouble and I'm here to make sure you keep your dick, and your life, intact. Now listen--”
“Listen to me,” Tony answered, his voice low, his fingers tight on Steve's aching wrist when he reached out to grab it. “You said to me, in that place that you wanted me. That you wanted me too much to take me like that.”
Steve couldn't blush – his skin was too flushed already – but he would have if it hadn't been.
“I'm sorry,” he said, barely managing to get the words out, and Tony shook his head, settling cool hands on the sides of Steve's neck.
“I want you,” he said. “You told me you wouldn't do a thing to me unless I was in my right mind? Well, I took the suppressants, okay? They gave me pills, I took them, it worked, and I still wanted you. Now Bruce says I'm the key here – unless they find someone else who's compatible, and the odds are low, Steve. Real low. So I'm asking you now, do you want me? When you're in your right mind, do you want me?”
“I stopped taking my pills Steve, do you want me? 'Cause I'm in heat and I want you and I'm willing to let you have me anyway, but more now it can save your life.”
Steve stared up at him, barely able to breathe for the smell of him, for the way his skin felt, barely able to think beyond Tony, Tony, TonyTonyTony-
“Yeah,” Steve breathed, “please!”
Tony pulled back immediately, hands away from Steve, body clear of the bed, and Steve was going to scream at him, was going to grab him and kill him for putting what he needed within reach only to take it away again, but Tony wasn't leaving. Tony wasn't leaving at all and, by the time Steve registered it, Tony had his shirt off and his pressed suit trousers – and expensive underwear – down around his ankles.
He was half hard, smelled like everything Steve wanted and he was nothing short of beautiful.
“Let's take a look at you,” Tony told him, reaching out for the edge of the sheet, and Steve grabbed his wrist first.
“Wait,” he rasped, “wait, please, just...go easy, okay? It's...God, it's killing me...”
Tony nodded slowly, having almost to peel the sheet away from Steve's body given how soaked with sweat it was and...
“Wow,” Tony said.
Steve didn't look, couldn't look. Likelihood was he didn't want to see, but Tony's expression was somewhere between shock and horror.
“Steve's it's...The damned thing's purple, this is...I mean, this is gonna hurt whatever I do.”
“I know and I don't care,” Steve answered. “Jesus, Tony, I don't care, just-”
“Right,” Tony whispered, tugging the sheet back to let it fall on the floor. “Right, I got it.”
He hopped up onto the bed and straddled Steve's thighs, and Steve was practically chewing through his lower lip by now – he could feel Tony's body heat already, smell him so much it was all he could do not to bite him just to mark him.
Tony reached back, arching his back as he spread his knees and there was a sound Steve didn't really recognize – wet and quiet and-
“Wait,” he said, amazed that he was actually managing to have forethought at a time like this, “wait, wait, you're gonna hurt yourself-”
Tony just gave him the most effective 'oh, please,' expression Steve had ever seen and something heavy dropped off the end of the bed and onto the floor. Plug.
“Prepped in the car on the way over,” Tony answered, knees sliding outwards as he curled long, tight fingers around Steve's cock to line him up.
Steve winced, body tensing as pain shot up his spine, and he was hissing through his teeth before Tony's fingers tightened, angling his cock just so.
“Tony,” he gasped, “Tony, listen, if this doesn't work-”
And Steve didn't get any further because Tony chose that moment to sink down onto him – hot and slick and tight, and Steve was really glad Tony had prepped in the car because he couldn't stop the way his hips snapped up to meet Tony's own, his hands twisting painfully in the bedsheets.
And then he was coming, and coming, and coming so hard he couldn't breathe, couldn't lie still – he heard himself crying out through his teeth as his muscles tensed and white hot pain lanced through his body, and his spine felt like it was trying to snap right out of his back.
He managed another breath and it wasn't over, feet kicking out as his head jerked back, shoulders lifting once, twice, again, body trying to curl over on itself and it still wasn't over, his body still wasn't done.
He couldn't hear, he couldn't see, and something cool and strong pressed against his stomach. Steve managed to gasp once, whole body twisting with the force of it.
And then he howled.
Tony knew the instant Steve had made it through the other side of his orgasm because all the tension left his body in the space of about half a second, his head back, mouth hanging open, every breath a moan, and his chest rose and fell so far and so fast that Tony wouldn't have thought it possible if he weren't seeing it himself.
Steve's hands, unable to hold the sheets any longer since about halfway through his orgasm, were up now, as though in self defense, shaking hard, and he didn't really appear to know where he was.
Tony lifted his hand from where he'd pressed it to Steve's stomach and swiped his thumbs over Steve's cheekbones, cradling Steve's head in his hands.
He leaned down to kiss him, Steve's mouth slack under his own, and stroked all the skin he could reach while they kissed, Steve breathing hard and fast through his nose.
“Feel better?” Tony broke away to ask against Steve's mouth, and Steve shook his head.
“Wait,” he breathed, suddenly frantic again, his hands pushing at Tony's thighs, “wait, I'll knot if you don't-”
“That's okay,” Tony said, his voice as soothing as he could make it – low and smooth and calm, and Steve shuddered under him. “That's okay, Steve, I want you to, okay? You stay here with me, you go right ahead, all right?”
“Tony,” Steve answered weakly, and Tony just kissed him again, wriggling to get closer as Steve's knot swelled inside of him.
After a couple of seconds, Steve broke the kiss to drop his head back, moaning again, and Tony took the opportunity to lick at Steve's throat while Steve's hands knocked uselessly against his sides.
“Tony,” he said, low and rough, and Tony clenched around the knot just to see what happened.
Steve gasped, body tensing again, almost convulsing beneath him, and the next moan he gave shuddered on the way out – which was pretty much one of the sexiest noises Tony had ever heard.
That wasn't all either, and Tony's eyes widened and the sensation of fullness increased. “Steve,” he said, “Steve, are you...”
Steve's eyelids fluttered open and he stared up at Tony, looking one whole lot happier than he'd looked before. There was a slight quirk to one side of his mouth and, while his skin was still flushed, his eyes were half-closed, dark and glittering.
“Yeah,” he managed, one hand settling on Tony's thigh, and Tony wondered if his smile looked as incredulous as it felt.
Tony felt his eyebrows raise, though, and he heard the brief, low chuckle Steve gave him for his trouble. “You still okay?” he asked, stroking his hand up Steve's chest because he could.
“Mmm,” Steve nodded, eyes fluttering closed for just a moment when Tony clenched around him again.
“I could go again,” Tony told him softly, rocking astride him. “In fact, that's kind of the whole point of the cycle. Right?”
“Mmm,” Steve answered. And then he yawned. “Sorry.”
Tony just chuckled. “Hey, it's fine. You're still knotted, why don't you sleep for the duration and we can go again when you wake up?”
Steve kind of smiled, although his face didn't seem to want to do what he was telling it to, leaving the smile shaky and lopsided. “You're...” he breathed. “Tony, I...I don't deserve-”
“Shut up and sleep, soldier,” Tony answered, shifting enough to make them both gasp. “I can manage five minutes.”
And if Steve had been planning to answer at all, he never managed. His hand slipped down Tony's thigh and his eyes closed as his head rocked to one side. And he was still hard, still knotted, but Tony stared down at him and watched him lying still.
It ends up taking two days before they can leave to go back to the tower, and another three days after that for Tony's heat to end.
There's an awkward few minutes when they've been home for almost ten minutes, when Coulson needs to talk to Tony, and Tony just pulls the sheets up over his and Steve's hips and talks to Coulson while Steve's knotted inside him as though there's nothing unusual about it.
And, on the fourth day, Steve ventures into the kitchen while no-one is there, to fetch food. Clint and Natasha and Bruce choose this moment to come and fetch coffee, but when Clint points out the fact that Steve's still hard, Steve smiles tightly and says “I noticed,” which is when Tony comes to drag him back to the bedroom. Steve just laughs as Tony shuts the door behind them.
There are a great many things that are certain in the world, and the Alpha/Omega dynamic is one of them.