"Tony, you can't bring Captain America into a sex shop!" hissed Pepper, trying not to draw the attention of every passerby while still conveying to Tony just how serious she was. He got it fine, he just didn't care.
"Of course I can," said Tony. "He wants the whole twenty-first century New York experience, doesn't he? It's just like...tourism."
"Tourism is the Empire State Building, Tony. Tourism is the Statue of Liberty."
"Uh, we actually already had both those in my time," Steve pointed out. Nicely, of course, because he's Captain Fucking America. "But I'm not sure I want to—"
"It's important for your continued education," said Tony, grabbing his sleeve. A nice looking, middle-aged couple walked past them and into the shop, Steve's eyes following them the whole way. "See? It's totally family friendly."
"Fine. I'm going to start on damage control," said Pepper, pulling out her phone. "I'll see you boys back at the penthouse."
"And that," said Tony, "is what they call permission."
What Tony did to him then would probably be classified as 'herding' in any other context, but it wasn't like Steve put up much resistance. Because of course he was curious, who wouldn't be curious? And the convenient middle-aged couple who weren't planted by Tony but only because he didn't think of it did seem to assure Steve that this was a kind of shopping that all kinds of people did openly now, not strictly by mail order or in dark, seedy back rooms.
"Where am I supposed to look?" Steve whispered in his ear.
"How is that even a question?" said Tony. "You look at everything. Touch them too. You want to fondle the French maid's outfits? Knock yourself out. If I'd known our day was going to end up here I would have gotten us the kind of access that lets you take the merchandise for a test drive, too, but you take what you can get."
"What?" said Tony. "It's not like they're decorative. Well, not just decorative. Pepper probably wouldn't let me decorate a room with dildos."
He hadn't even known that Steve could turn that particular color.
"Come on," he said, a little more sedately. "Relax. See? Everyone else is just shopping like normal people. They even have baskets. Would they have baskets if this was unseemly?"
Not a word of that a lie, either. The middle-aged couple they'd seen earlier was already stocking up on lube and edible body paint.
"I'm not going to buy anything," said Steve.
"Of course you're not," said Tony, "but you should get to know what's out there. You'll probably learn more about the modern world in here than from any of the videos Fury's sent you."
"Fury doesn't send me videos," said Steve, but that was just semantics. So Fury didn't send them himself— someone was responsible for educating Steve about the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and they were doing a piss-poor job of figuring out what were actually the important bits. Steve didn't need military history and tactics. Steve invented strategic assaults. What he needed was to be able to get through the average conversation with someone without either getting confused or turning that deep scarlet.
Tony had to all but lead him by the hand at first, but when Steve finally realized that no one gave a fuck what he was looking at, and no one gave a fuck if he knew what they were looking at, he started to venture out into the world a little more. Tony felt a little bit like watching his kid take his first steps.
Of course, Tony also practically catalogued in his head everything Steve took an interest in, because one never knew when the opportunity might arise to use that kind of knowledge. Steve wasn't really into costumes, or anything that seemed like it had a lot of complicated set-up, and blow-up dolls seemed like they were actually an active turn-off, but the wall of dildos and vibrators held his attention for long enough that Tony actually migrated back to his side again.
"So women, all kinds of women, they can just buy these—"
"And men," said Tony. "There's more than one hole that can go into."
"Tony, there are ladies present!"
"Steve," said Tony, throwing an arm around his shoulders. "That's not a rude thing to say when you're shopping for sex toys. It's just fact. It might even be printed on the package."
Which was when Steve picked one up and read the package. "It's not like I didn't know people made this kind of thing," he said, quietly. "I just always thought they'd be more...realistic."
"You mean your dick isn't blue and covered in knobs?"
"That would be a condition a guy might want to get someone to look at."
"Tony, it's not...I can't believe I'm having this conversation with you."
"You're not having this conversation with me," said Tony. "I'm having this conversation and you're making awkward noises at appropriate moments. But seriously, I hear these are better than the real thing. The ridges are supposed to, uh, stimulate the right places."
"Are you going to make fun of me if I ask just what those right places are supposed to be, exactly?"
"Not until later," said Tony. "I'm too busy trying to convince you to buy yourself a dildo to mock you right now. Look, here's one with a flag on it. That's perfect."
"I'm not putting something with a flag up—" started Steve, then abruptly changed direction. "I'm not sure that's entirely appropriate."
"I'm not sure appropriate is what they're going for," said Tony.
But Steve was still looking, even if he didn't pick up any of the other boxes, or samples, and if they finally ended up leaving without buying anything, Tony was pretty sure it wasn't out of lack of interest.
He was still convinced Pepper was overreacting, though. And if anyone ever did ask them about their little shopping trip, Tony was sure he could spin it as an educational outing (which was the truth), since Steve had never quite lost that expression of awe and mortification. Or he could say they were saving someone from a giant dildo attack. Stranger things had happened, and most of them in New York.
* * *
The next day Tony made someone go back and buy that awesome blue dildo, giftwrapped it, and left it in Steve's suite with a note. "No judgment."
But of course, that couldn't be the end of it.
"JARVIS?" he said, later on from his lab when the thought occurred to him. "Let me know if Captain Rogers ever makes use of his little present."
He told himself that he just wanted to make sure it was an appropriate gift. He was very good at lying to himself.
There was a pause before JARVIS said, "Very good, sir."
"Was that snotty?" said Tony. "Were you being snotty with me?"
"Perish the thought."
"You totally were," said Tony. "You were judging me. I don't trust you anymore, JARVIS, bring up a new screen, show me Steve's bedroom. I bet he's riding that baby right now and you just won't tell me."
"I can't imagine why you don't trust me now," said JARVIS, doing exactly as Tony asked. "I've always indulged all your other prurient interests."
"See?" said Tony. "Snotty."
Steve was there, sitting in his old wingback chair that might actually have been from the forties, ankle resting on the opposite knee and reading a book.
But Tony left the screen up as he worked anyway. It wasn't like it was in his way and it was kind of mesmerizing watching him turn page after page after page, pause, contemplate the meaning of life or something, repeat. It was the pauses that finally got Tony's attention, only forming a pattern because his subconscious was tracking them while his conscious mind was somewhere else entirely. Steve didn't just pause to give his eyes a rest or shift position, he paused to look across the room, at the same place every time.
"JARVIS—" Tony started, then shook his head and turned back to the schematics on his other side. "Never mind." Because he wasn't going to ask his AI to pan over so he could see what was so interesting. There was a line.
"Whatever you say, sir."
"Bring up my mock-up from February, too. I seem to remember being extraordinarily awesome after a few martinis but I can't remember why."
"Nor can I," said JARVIS. Seriously, so, so snotty.
Spotting Steve moving out of the corner of his eye stopped Tony before he could figure out his own genius, though. He'd set the book down on the chair and was crossing the room and Tony didn't even have to ask for the camera to follow him.
The package had already been unwrapped, the dildo was sitting on his bed, and Steve was sitting down next to it, his focus very clear.
"Well I'll be damned," said Tony. "I knew he was curious. Do you think he's going to take it for a test drive?"
"I wouldn't care to speculate," said JARVIS, "unless you're asking me a question about the mathematical probability, which I could provide given access to certain parameters."
"You don't think I should be watching," said Tony. "It's not like he doesn't know I can see him in his room. I told them all the suites are monitored. I know what's happening in every inch of my building."
"You did," agreed JARVIS. "Ms. Romanov subsequently informed you of the several uncomfortable positions she would put you in if you ever took advantage of the fact."
"Which is why I'm not looking in Natasha's room," said Tony. And why JARVIS had instructions to only do so in an emergency situation, for her and several of the others who'd been more subtle but equally adamant in their request for privacy. "Steve never asked me not to."
"I'm not sure this is what he had in mind, sir."
"What happened to not speculating?" said Tony.
Steve's interest in the dildo wasn't just academic, either (if that was even a real thing); he was taking his clothes off now and Tony had no idea what he'd been reading but he was already hard. Maybe he hadn't really been reading at all, just turning pages while he fantasized about the dildo. Maybe he was capable of doing both things simultaneously with that rewired brain of his.
"Shall I record this for future reference?"
"See, that's what I'm talking about," said Tony. "You record everything for future reference, so the only reason to ask me is to call attention to it. I made you too well."
"Indeed, sir," said JARVIS.
Steve slicked up his fingers—Tony had provided that, too, because he was nothing if not thorough—but it wasn't until he lay back and spread his legs and pushed them into himself, just like that, that it clicked. He'd done this before.
Captain America had fingered himself before. Captain America had been looking at those toys with a lot more than naive curiosity. Captain America had known what the hell he was looking for, even if he hadn't known quite what the hell he was looking at. Captain America already knew he liked it up at the ass, and Tony hadn't picked up on that at all.
He was a total failure as a terrible influence.
That Steve hadn't used anything other than his fingers, though, seemed pretty likely the way he awkwardly handled the dildo, looking at it like he wanted it—or wanted something like it—but still wasn't sure he wanted to go through with using it. Tony could sort of understand that. The dildo had just mysteriously appeared in his room with an unsigned note. Someone who wasn't Tony might legitimately look a sex horse in the mouth. A gift sex. Whatever.
But then Steve did it, he fingered himself opened and took a deep breath and then fucked himself on the ridged dildo after a long, slow press inside, and jerked himself off with such swift precision that he had to have done that a lot, too.
Tony wasn't sure why it never occurred to him that Steve was a guy, and a young guy at that, and a young guy tended to want to get off, a lot. It was irrelevant that Steve was a guy who never got the girl. Or, possibly, never actually wanted the girl.
That moment of reflection, that brief mental distraction, was the moment when things went to a whole new level, though. That was the moment when Steve reached down and pushed one, no two, fingers in alongside the dildo and finally came, almost untouched at that point, when his hole was stretched out like that.
Tony didn't watch the afterglow, the vulnerable moments when Steve caught his breath, pulled the dildo out, cleaned himself up, maybe looked awkward and embarrassed and—Tony hoped not, but possibly—ashamed. Tony didn't want to see that. He'd already learned everything he could reasonably have expected to from the experience, and a lot more on top of that.
The next day he ordered Steve something a little bigger. He didn't feel like he needed to include a note with this one.
* * *
Steve never mentioned it to him, never mentioned their little shopping adventure in the city at all. He carried on like nothing had changed, when Tony felt like everything had. Which of course made sense—Steve had always known what he was into, and Tony had to learn the lesson yet again that people were not always what you first expected them to be. But Tony still felt like there was this huge thing going unsaid between them, and kept watching Steve for microreactions to suggest he was feeling the same.
The new dildo seemed to satisfy Steve fine, for a little while. It was a couple of weeks before Tony figured he needed to scale up a little again. He wasn't sure by how much, so he got a couple of options, obscenely large cocks that Tony'd previously seen only in porn (and not attached to anyone, either—as far as he knew these sizes only came in synthetic versions).
It would probably be weird if he made Steve something, crossing the line into way too intimate, but he thought about it. He thought he could make exactly what Steve wanted, or needed, if they ever talked about it. Which they would not, because there were some things that should just never be discussed, so it was a moot point.
Of those two, Steve actually seemed to like the smaller one better, but he still worked in fingers with it, so Tony figured it was something about the shape of the other one that wasn't working for him—it did have a different kind of bend to it, and a steeper taper. Based on all available evidence, Tony determined that Steve had clearly figured out all on his own what those right places were that the dildos were supposed to hit.
The first time he watched, Tony had been curious and surprised and, let's face it, watching Captain America deflower himself was kind of hot. But Tony wasn't that into guys that he watched every time. He was just keeping an eye on things so he could anticipate Steve's needs, and leave him gifts as appropriate. And if every once in a while he watched longer than necessary...fuck it, no, he wasn't going to make excuses for it. Tony was turned on by knowledge, and occasionally by very beautiful people having sex, even if they were men. Put the two together, and watching Steve Rogers experiment with sex toys was his catnip.
Now that he had shape figured out, the next couple of toys Tony gave him were for experimenting with length and girth, figuring out what Steve liked best. (It was apparently both; at this point he'd have to actually ask Steve if he wanted a definitive answer, and he could just imagine how that conversation would play out.) They'd reached a size now where Steve had to lower himself onto the dildos, use his thigh muscles and his body's weight to push them fully inside for best effect. He might have great upper body strength, but his legs, and gravity, were more powerful in this case.
Tony watched, he told himself, to figure out the physics of it all. The angle and amount of force necessary for optimal effect. The position of Steve's body as he squatted on the bed, riding the dildo. (Tony would have invented a better base for them for sufficient support, if that was the sort of thing it was appropriate for him to do.) The bend of Steve's legs as he balanced, fucking himself and stroking off his cock, too. There was a kind of objective beauty in watching a peak athlete's body working; very few people would have been able to do it like that.
He looked away before the money shot, but his surveillance stream had sound now. He heard it just fine.
"Shall I put the schematics back up for you now, sir?"
"He's a supersoldier, JARVIS," said Tony. As if he couldn't see the schematics on his other side. "He might go again."
"Very well, sir," says JARVIS. "Shall I have Dummy provide you with some tissues?"
"Snotty," said Tony, shrinking the size of the Steve screen but not dismissing it entirely. "What do you think I'm going to do, whip it out?"
"I don't speculate," said JARVIS, "I just provide you with the best service I can."
"Well, you don't need to service me right now," said Tony. "Actually, you don't need to service me at all."
"As you wish, sir."
"And don't quote the Princess Bride at me, either. You think I don't know what you're doing?"
"That would imply that I am in love with you, sir," said JARVIS, "and I don't believe you programmed me for that."
"I didn't program you for a lot of things that you've been doing lately," said Tony. He pretended to be working on the new coolant system while he listened to Steve start all over again. Like he said. Supersoldier. He wondered how many times Steve could actually go, then figured that was another thing he'd have to ask him with words, so that wasn't actually going to happen.
The next time he scoured the market for things to stick up Captain America's ass, Tony picked out a few plugs of varying sizes. Varying massive sizes. Just for something different, that was all. He didn't watch to see if Steve was using them, but he found himself carefully watching Steve's movements outside of his rooms to try to guess if he had one in or not. (One of the smaller ones. He was pretty sure no one would be able to walk with one of the larger ones in him. Actually, he was pretty sure they came with warnings not to try.)
Tony's curiosity was going to kill him one day.
* * *
He definitely didn't actually mean to broach the subject. Not that he'd ever been shy about pushing people's buttons, but this was one time he gave Cap room to spread his wings without comment. Without verbal or overt comment, anyway. He had already gone over in his head the many, many reasons they would never mention this whole thing. Ever.
"Here," he said, about to hand him a blue ceramic coffee cup before swapping it out for the red one next to it. "Your favorite color."
"It's not my..." started Steve, then stared at the mug and started to turn a similar color, and Tony realized his mistake. It was the same—the exact same—shade of red as the latest toy Tony had given him, that he'd taken to very enthusiastically.
"Shit," said Tony, and turned to the coffee maker so he didn't have to look Steve in the eye.
It was awkwardly long before either of them broke the silence.
"I always knew you were watching," said Steve. "Especially after the first one. I always knew."
He tried not to give it away, but Tony was very startled by that. Even though he shouldn't have been. After all, did he think Steve thought he was guessing what he might like next? Getting completely objective advice from JARVIS maybe? Which was still watching, kind of.
"And you still...?"
"I figured it was just you, so it was private, in a way. You weren't selling Captain America sex tapes." Tony still hadn't turned around, but he could feel Steve's eyes on his back and damned if he'd let Captain America out-brave him.
"I don't always," he said, which really, really wasn't the point and he knew it. He looked at the ceiling instead of at Steve. "See, JARVIS? You can stop silently judging me now,"
"I wasn't aware I was doing it silently," said JARVIS.
"I figure I like what I like and you like, you know...watching," said Steve. "We were both getting what we wanted."
"It's not a..." started Tony, but it was a bit of a breathless shock of self-admission when he realized that yes, yes, watching was a thing for him. Just watching. It was like that. Amazing what you could miss about yourself when you were spending all your time looking at someone else.
"You know it is," said Steve, more quietly, and Tony was really going to have to start giving the guy's brains a little more credit. They weren't just good for scene assessment and strategic planning.
"I guess we've both been doing a little bit of discovering ourselves lately," was all he admitted to. "Is that it now? Is it the kind of spell that's broken when you acknowledge it exists?"
"You mean, am I going to stop?"
"Or ask me to stop," said Tony. "Either way."
Either Steve was thinking about it, or he was making Tony sweat about it a little. He poured Steve's coffee and handed it to him, silently.
"No," Steve said finally. "Does it mean I'm going to stop getting little surprises?"
"Hell no," said Tony. "I was going to keep doing that anyway. Maybe I should start giving them to you over the breakfast table, in lieu of 'good morning'."
"Kidding, Cap," he said, and clapped him on the shoulder like this whole thing had been no big deal. Business as usual. "After all, if I do that then everyone's going to want one."
Steve looked like he was going to say something, than shut up and sipped his coffee and that all was enough. For now.
* * *
There was a new box waiting for Steve on his bed the next morning. Tony made sure of that.
Turned out Steve really liked the one that was shaped like a fist (not a punching fist but a tapered, penetrating fist; Tony didn't know there was a difference until now). He never said so, of course, but Tony knew enough now to be able to tell. And the one that had an unrealistically large hand, he liked even better. There wasn't a lot left Tony could get his hands on to top that, at least not retail. So when he got the last one, he decided to suck it up and deliver it personally. It wasn't a poorly-kept secret anymore, after all. And he had to admit, he kind of wanted to see the look on Steve's face in person when he gave it to him.
Tony had to carry it in two hands. If you had to carry the dildo like you'd carry a baby—he was pretty sure it was actually heavier than most newborns—then it was very likely the biggest on the market.
Steve's face turned an unimaginable shade of red for a moment when he saw what was inside the box, then he very carefully and deliberately closed it again without a word, set it by his breakfast plate, and helped himself to some waffles while his color slowly returned to normal.
"If you want it any bigger than that, you're going to have to have sex with the Hulk," said Tony, because he couldn't leave it at that.
Steve shook his head. "Bruce is a great guy," he said, "but I don't think he likes men that way."
"Because that's the problem with what I just said?" Steve just flushed again and rubbed the back of his neck and wow, Tony was picturing it now and he wasn't sure if it was scaring him or turning him on. Maybe both. "But you...do?"
Steve just looked at him, brow furrowed. "It wasn't obvious already?"
"Hey, I don't judge," said Tony. "Pepper straps one on and does me sometimes and that doesn't mean I'm any less into women."
"Oh," said Steve. Tony could tell he was picturing that now, but hey, fair was fair. Pepper had been the beneficiary of all that erotic charge he'd been getting out of Steve, after all. "It's not like...I don't need it like that. I don't need it that...big."
Big? Had become an understatement over the past few weeks.
"But you like it."
"I like a lot of things. I like...that I'm getting a chance to learn where my limits are. Could never have done that before. Course, my limits were a lot narrower before the serum."
"Well, maybe I can't give you the real thing, but there's such a thing as Hulk-sized out there," said Tony. "Special order, obviously, but I know a guy. I can hook you up."
Steve opened his mouth like he was going to protest that, blushing all the way down his neck, but finally he just said, "Really?"
"It's a fetish thing," said Tony with a shrug. "I'm not sure how many people who aren't you can take it that big, but obviously they're out there because there's a market. I wonder if it's green."
"It doesn't need to be green."
"Yeah, but I bet it is," said Tony. "For realism. Even if you weren't gagging for it, I might just have to order myself one anyway. I could use it decoratively. Maybe an umbrella stand."
"I'm not..." Steve started, then looked at his feet. "Thanks."
Up until that moment, Tony hadn't been entirely sure he really wanted it. Especially since he hadn't even tried out the one he just got yet, and the one he just got was pretty fucking huge. Hulk-sized was...bigger than that. But given everything that had come before, he guessed that Steve could take it. He obviously wanted to try.
"I wasn't kidding about the green."
"The first one you gave me was peacock blue," said Steve. "If anything, the green will be sedate."
"So...right, okay, I'll get right on that, then," said Tony. "JARVIS, make a note."
"Consider it done," said JARVIS.
"Thanks," said Steve, because even in the midst of talking about his deviant sex life—and Tony didn't mean the ass thing or the gay thing, he meant the Hulk-sized thing—he was a polite young man. Emphasis on both polite and young, which Tony was sometimes acutely reminded of. "This has been...less mortifying than I thought it would be."
"Yeah," said Tony. "I know I'm really probably not the best choice when talking about stuff like this." He wasn't sure who would be, but Tony was way better at offering practical solutions than advice.
"That's not...I don't need someone to talk to."
"I know a lot of this stuff is probably new to you, in the not fun hey-let's-discover-the-world way—"
"I don't have issues with being gay," said Steve abruptly, as if just realizing what Tony was trying to get at. "It was private, but I'm not embarrassed. I don't think there's something wrong with me."
"Oh," said Tony. "Well. That's an extremely healthy attitude to have. Good for you."
"I may not have gotten to be with anyone," said Steve, "but we had gay people in the forties, too."
"Obviously," said Tony. And for better or for worse, the wheels in his brain had started turning now. Not the wheels that were busy designing a bona fide fucking machine for Steve—he actually probably already had all the materials he'd need for manufacturing—but the ones that dealt more with other people. In the non-antagonistic way.
"Look," he said, edging forward into even more personal territory. Baby steps. "Instead of just buying you something next time, do you want me to help you meet people?"
"I meet plenty of people—" Steve started, then cut off abruptly and rubbed the back of his neck again, looking away as he figured out what Tony was actually offering him. Meet people like you. Meet people who want the same things. "Oh."
"And I do mean meet," he said, in case that was unclear. "Not buy, or anything. I don't even do that for myself. Well, not anymore."
"Maybe," said Steve finally. "Maybe, yeah, okay."
"Yeah, okay," agreed Tony. "I'm actually not terrible at this. Or, well, Pepper's not terrible at this. I can tell Pepper?"
"It's not a secret," said Steve, but then added, "She probably doesn't need any details."
"She probably doesn't want any details," said Tony. "Well, not those kind of details, anyway."
"Thanks," said Steve. "I...thanks."
Tony wasn't sure how this went from getting his kicks introducing Captain America to vibrating eggs and flavored lube, to actually caring about his emotional well-being, but it was probably not a terrible thing. In fact it was probably the kind of thing that people were always encouraging him to do more of.
He might. It actually felt kind of good.
And if Cap did find a boyfriend, maybe he'd get to watch.