"So," Steve said, and the new Tony smiled at him, bright and frank. His resemblance to the other Tony Stark was clear, but Steve could never mistake them; he looked younger, and his expressions, for the most part, lacked cynicism. He was still Iron Man in his world, and still an engineer; he'd spent the day arguing dimensional theory with Reed Richards and the Pyms. When they'd retreated to various labs with handfuls of notes, Fury had forbidden he join them, on the somewhat vague grounds of security, and Tony had just shrugged and smiled. He'd taken Steve's arm and declared they'd go get dinner, apparently under the assumption that Steve and he were close friends, and now he sat on Steve's battered couch, looking perfectly at home, while Steve tried to think of something to say to a man from another universe. "Your team isn't called the Ultimates?" he said finally.
"No, we're called the Avengers. Jan came up with it."
"Yeah. I'm not sure why, but we all liked it, so..." Tony shrugged. "It's good! We mostly live together, in the Avengers Mansion. Some of our members have other homes, but they all have rooms at the Mansion."
"What's... what's the other me like?" Everyone had asked that, of course. No one had seemed pleased with the answers except Reed Richards.
"He looks like you. He, uh, he smiles more, and he wears his hair longer. He's the greatest hero in the world, everyone looks up to him. He's my best friend," and there was a little ring of pride to that.
"So that's why you wanted to stay with me?"
"Half that. The other half is that this is a horrible world, and most of the people in it seem to be - not as nice as they are in my world." Tony's smile sharpened, and for a moment he looked very like his counterpart. "But if I can't trust Captain America, I'm pretty much doomed here. So." That was - not a discussion Steve wanted to get into.
"The other me," he said instead. "Is he - " he shot a covert glance at Tony, smiling even when shunted into another universe. From a world where Hank Pym was just eccentric, and the Hulk kept kittens, and superhero teams went to the beach together, for God's sake. "Is he happy?"
"Oh yes. Almost all the time. He gets upset, of course, when there are things he can't fix, and he's a bit of a worrier, but usually he's very happy." Of course he was. Did he have a Gail? A Bucky? How many funerals had he spoken at this year?
"What about the past?" was all he could think to say, and Tony hunched his shoulders, making a face.
"You mean before he was frozen? Sometimes I think he misses it more than he lets on. He had a chance to go back, recently... he was thinking about it. He couldn't, in the end, but I'm not sure which he would have picked, so - are you all right?" Steve's hands had clenched into fists so tight he could see the knuckles turning white. Tony's hand closed over his, eyes darting over him.
"I would go back in a heartbeat," Steve said. "I would - I wouldn't hesitate. Not for a second." The thought of being able to go home - the thought of being happy enough that he didn't want to go home - he put his hands up, pressed the heels into his eyes, taking a shuddering breath. Jealousy or grief, he couldn't decide which, but it hurt.
"Steve. Steve!" Arms wrapped round him, and Tony hugged him hard, rubbed at his shoulders, and was there anyone in this world who'd hug Steve that easily? Like it was natural? He got a handful of Tony's shirt and pulled him closer, and Tony leaned trustingly into his embrace as Steve buried his head in his shoulder and breathed deeply, trying to regain his composure. "It's all right," said Tony. "We'll work it out."
"There's nothing to work out," said Steve into Tony's neck. "Our world's just different."
"You're not that different," Tony said. "You're still Steve Rogers. You're not that different at all." He pressed his cheek against Steve's, stroking his hair, and he wondered how often Tony hugged his Steve like this. Was this something else the other Steve had that he didn't?
Steve turned his head, and let his lips graze Tony's, spread a hand over the small of his back. Tony's hands stilled, but he didn't pull away, and Steve kissed him, hard, and pushed him down on his back, kicking his legs apart to lie between them. Tony was pliant, arms settling loose around Steve's waist as he leaned up into the kiss.
"You and your Steve," said Steve, breaking off, and Tony flushed.
"No," he said. "No, we - I'm kind of a screw-up, really. He deserves better."
"Who's he with?"
"Well, no-one. He's says he's waiting for the right person."
"So he's alone?"
"No," said Tony, looking at him strangely. "He has all of us. And he has Sharon and Rick and Sam- "
"But no one just for him. You could - "
"No," said Tony again. "It wouldn't be fair. I think - I'm pretty certain he's a virgin, actually, and he can count the number of times he's been kissed. I can't just - he deserves someone like him. A real hero."
"Right." Steve traced his thumbs over Tony's cheekbones, and Tony turned his head and kissed the palm of his hand. "But you will with me?" Tony gave him a sideways look, a small smile.
"You started it, Steve. Who am I to argue with Captain America?"
"That's something I don't hear very often," said Steve, and kissed him again. Tony submitted docilely to his rough handling, let himself be dragged to the bedroom and stripped and pushed down on to the bed, not the faintest shadow crossing his face as Steve pinned him down, immobilizing him. He blinked up at Steve, smiling, while Steve stared at the strange blue glow in the centre of his chest.
"It's a pacemaker, sort of," he said. "It keeps my heart going."
"It's a long story." He frowned, faint creases of worry around his eyes. "Don't tell anyone, all right? I wouldn't put it past Fury to steal it. And then I'd die."
"I won't let anything happen to you," Steve said, and it felt good to see the lines melt away as Tony believed him, as he smiled and tilted his head for more kisses. He sighed under Steve's awkward touches, rubbed against him shamelessly, moaned with open pleasure when Steve's hands slid down between his legs.
When Steve pushed a finger inside him, he let out a soft choked noise.
"Do you have any lubricant?"
"Uh - " Steve frowned, trying to think of something suitable.
"Don't use it."
"Lard?" he said doubtfully, and Tony wrinkled his nose.
"Uh, no. Hand lotion? Chapstick?"
The thick cold slipperiness of the Vaseline wasn't remotely erotic; it felt oddly medical to be using it to slick Tony up for him. But Tony trailed gentle fingers over his shoulders and murmured encouragement, and looked at him with a fondness that made Steve warm, even if it was, really, fondness for someone else. When he got Tony's long legs round his waist and started pushing in, it was all better, Tony arched and trembling, whispering his name. He was easy to please, each careful roll of Steve's hips making him moan, eyes half-shut, and he put his hands into Steve's hair, pulling him down for slow soft kisses. Briefly, Steve thought of his Tony; he'd be all sharp edges and abrasion and the taste of alcohol. He shook it away and bent his head to kiss down the line of Tony's throat, got a hand between them to stroke his cock. Tony's moans came louder, and he spread his legs wider, feet braced against Steve's hips.
"Harder," he said. "Steve, please."
He didn't want to hurt Tony, and he wasn't sure how durable this Tony was, but he put force into it, held Tony down by the shoulders and drove in. Tony's nails were leaving scratches down his triceps, and he cried out, voice shaking; Steve hesitated and Tony shook his head fast.
"It's all right, Steve, it's good, don't stop." Steve got rougher, then, faster, and Tony made an incoherent string of noises until he ran out of breath, writhed under him with abandon, and Steve stared down at him and wished for a better memory. Tony came with his eyes fixed on Steve's face, desperate little gasps in time with the fast clenches of his body, and that was so good it made Steve's vision blur. He put his head down onto Tony's shoulder, and three clumsy thrusts later he was coming, Tony wrapped round him and whispering sweet dirty things in his ear.
It didn't surprise him at all that Tony was a cuddler; it did surprise him how good it felt to doze with someone held close. It had been too long.
"The other me," said Tony, quietly. Steve grunted. "Do you like him?"
"Yeah. Yeah, he's annoying as hell, sometimes, but I like him. He's a good man." Tony gave a hum of satisfaction, and pressed his face against Steve's shoulder. He went to sleep like that, and Steve lay awake in the dark, the faint blue glow emanating from Tony's chest making the whole thing seem distant and unreal.
Tony smiled at him, and put a hand on his bicep, a gentle squeeze.
"Thanks, Steve," he said, and Steve nodded, unable to speak. Tony's smile widened, and he turned and stepped towards the shimmering pane. The other Tony was already there, drumming his fingers on the tear in reality.
There was no flash of light or strange noise; just Tony walking away from the tear, shaking his head. On the other side he could see the other Tony being grabbed in a fierce hug by a figure in blue; and then they were gone.
"Were those wings on his cowl?" Steve asked nobody in particular, and Tony rolled his eyes in a way that was familiar and, perhaps, comforting.