The waiting room was cold. Ice cold. Steve shifted uncomfortably, fighting back the urge to run out of the room… an urge he just barely resisted. He glanced at Tony out of the corner of his eye.
His genius-reformed playboy-philanthropist looked perfectly calm, skimming through a copy of Forbes and messing with his phone. To anyone else, he probably looked bored, but Steve knew better. Tony’s teeth scraped his bottom lip for the umpteenth time, turning the skin an even darker shade of pink. One of his nervous habits. He bounced his knee, too… although this seemed to come in shorter, unpredictable bursts.
“Hm?” He didn’t look up from his phone as he poked at the screen. Another sign.
“You know you’ll be fine, right?” Steve scrutinized the side of his boyfriend’s face as he spoke.
The corners of Tony’s eyes tightened almost imperceptibly. “Don’t be stupid, Cap. Getting your wisdom teeth pulled is pretty minor, as far as surgeries go.”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
A dramatic sigh. “Yes, Steve, I know that I’ll survive having four of my teeth ripped out.”
The patronizing tone and copious amounts of sarcasm didn’t fool the super soldier. “I’ll be here.”
“I know.” A slight timbre of fear made his voice quiver. His eyes flickered toward Steve shyly. “Thanks… for driving me. And being here.”
Steve covered Tony’s free hand with his. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”
Subtly, the genius turned his palm over and twined their fingers. Steve’s heart ached when he felt Tony’s fingers trembling against the back of his hand.
The office door swung open, producing a short nurse with frizzy blonde hair. “Mr. Stark, you can come on back.”
Tony took a deep breath before standing and shooting his boyfriend a crooked grin. “Don’t go away, handsome.”
Steve watched him go with a heavy heart. “Wouldn’t dream of it, darlin’.”
- - -
As it turned out, Tony didn’t have a very good reaction to the anesthesia. The nurse tried to send Steve out of the office, but, after a heated debate, he had managed to persuade her that his genius needed him. Steve hurried into the recovery room, the grumpy nurse hot on his heels.
He stopped dead in his tracks in the entryway. Tony was slumped over in a chair. His eyes were bleary and half-closed, left hand opening and closing absently. A lone tear was rolling down his cheek.
Steve darted over, taking his boyfriend’s reaching hand. “Hey, handsome,” he whispered gently, his thumb making soothing circles, “How’re you feelin’?”
Tony’s face twisted as a weak sob forced it’s way out of his chest. Alarm bells wailed in Steve’s head. His attention immediately snapped to the nurse, his expression steely.
“Isn’t there something for this?”
Her expression was a cross between pity and concern, with a touch of lingering annoyance. “He’ll be okay once he wakes up a bit more.”
“S… S’eve,” Tony whimpered, his fingers tightening jerkily around his boyfriend’s hand.
“Shh, I’m here,” Steve murmured, running his fingers through his genius’s hair, “Everything’s okay, love.”
More tears flowed down his cheeks. “Ih… was so… dahk… ‘n cohd…”
Steve’s heart dropped. His nightmares. “It’s okay, you’re safe. I’m here. I’ll always be here.”
Another sob. “I… ‘an’t… talk.”
A semi-hysterical laugh burst out of Steve. “It’s the gauze and the drugs, Tony. Nothing could ever stop you from talking.”
He gave a weak bark of laughter, which quickly turned into a soft groan.
“I… c’n tas’e… blood. Ih’s… ghoss.”
Another half-mad laugh. “Let’s get you home and take care of that.”
- - -
Tony finally fell asleep on the couch, much to Steve’s relief. He sat with him, turning the small, orange bottle over and over in his hands. He knew the instructions forward and backward, but he read the label once more. One pill every four hours. Supplement with aspirin every two hours between pills, as necessary. The super soldier set the bottle on the end table and sighed, ruffling his hair. This whole ordeal was just… not good. Tony had been stressed to a fracture point, and it had taken three hours for him to calm down enough to even think of sleeping. It probably wouldn’t have taken so long if Clint and Natasha had avoided the den. Steve sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. It really shouldn’t have been a big deal. They had been arguing about something trivial, and it hadn’t taken much effort for Steve to tune them out. Tony? Not so much. Their bickering rose subtly in volume, and Tony burst into hysterical tears. Natasha and Clint both paled, excusing themselves before Steve’s fiery glare turned into something more violent. Steve had held his hand and made soothing noises until Tony’s sobs had quieted. It took him forty minutes to calm down and another thirty to fall asleep, his head pillowed on Steve’s thighs.
Absently, the super soldier began scratching his boyfriend’s scalp. It really had been a long day, and Steve was drained. He let his head fall against the back of the couch, his eyes sliding to a close. I’ll just rest my eyes for a minute…
A soft sound woke Steve up. He blinked owlishly, frowning as he realized that there was no longer a head resting on his thigh. It’s dark out… what time is it? He checked his watch sleepily. With a start, he realized that he’d been asleep for almost an hour and a half. Tony’s pills!
“Tony!” The soldier jumped to his feet as his boyfriend wobbled in from the kitchen. Tony looked like death warmed over… if death had mopey, bloodshot brown eyes and liked to be inside a red-and-gold blanket cocoon, an ice pack sandwiched between his cheek and shoulder. Two fingers were protruding from the fleece-y shelter, hooked around the handle of a mug full of (surprisingly) water. Steve rushed forward, gingerly cupping his reformed playboy’s face in his hands. “How are you feeling, love?”
Tony’s lower lip pushed out a bit. At least the anesthesia’s wearing off, Steve thought in relief. “Sore.”
The super soldier winced, guilt stabbing through him. “I’m so sorry, I fell asleep—”
A calloused finger pressed over his lips. “Relax, Cap. JARVIS has your back. Got me up and got me my pill and an ice pack.”
“Indeed,” the AI answered in what Steve swore was a long-suffering tone, “It is my priority to attend to Mr. Stark’s physical well-being.”
“Thanks for your help, JARVIS.”
“The pleasure is all mine, Master Rogers,” he (it? Steve never knew how to address the computer) sounded pleased.
Tony wobbled back toward the couch with a groggy half-smile plastered on his face. “Love ya, J.”
“Thank you, Mr. Stark.”
He beamed at one of JARVIS’ sensors, his long, dark eyelashes touching his eyebrows. “You are totally welcome, you wonderful human-esque computer program.”
Steve smiled indulgently, taking his boyfriend by the elbow and guiding him to the couch. “You need some more sleep.”
“I can live with that,” Tony answered blearily as they sat down in tandem, setting the cup and ice pack on the coffee table. There was a moment of silence before the genius peeked at his Captain from the corner of his eye. “Um… Steve?”
Tony fidgeted uncharacteristically, his cheeks flushing florescent scarlet. “Can I keep using you as a pillow?”
Steve smiled lovingly. “You don’t have to ask, you know. I’m more than willing to help you in any way I can.”
“You’re too good to be true,” he murmured toward his lap, tears beginning to fill his eyes, “I don’t deserve you.”
A shock ran through the super soldier. “What did you just say?”
“You’re perfect,” Tony plowed on with a sniffle, tears rolling down his cheeks, “You’re kind, and understanding, and you deserve someone better than me.”
Steve carefully gripped his boyfriend’s chin and turned his face. “You listen to me, Anthony Edward Stark,” he growled sternly, “I don’t know what brought this on, but don’t you ever say that again.” Steve let his expression soften into one of concern, swiping the bitter tears off of Tony’s cheeks with gentle fingers. “You’re the smartest, sexiest, most selfless man on the planet. You’re perfect to me, and I won’t ever want anybody but you. I love you, Tony. Don’t you ever forget it.”
A half-laugh, half-sob got stuck in his throat, followed by a few more tears and a weak smile. “That’s the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard.”
Steve rubbed the tip of his nose against Tony’s. “You liked it. Don’t even think about trying to convince me otherwise.”
“I’d like it more if you gave me a real kiss,” he quipped, a hopeful gleam in his eyes.
Steve laughed. “I can tell you feel better.” He sobered under the withering stare. “Nice try,” the soldier murmured, running his thumb over his boyfriend’s lower lip, “You know the rules, love.”
Steve stopped his sentence with a forefinger and a reproachful look. “Tony, no. You’ll just have to be patient a bit longer.”
The pout reappeared. “How much longer, Steve?”
“We have to wait at least until your stitches come out, love.” He stroked Tony’s hair soothingly. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not interested in blood play.”
The genius’ mouth twisted as if he’d licked a lemon. “Not really, no.”
“Get some sleep, Tony,” Steve instructed as a huge yawn overtook his boyfriend, “You’ll feel better after you get a few hours.”
The super soldier was almost positive that his genius was out before his head even hit his makeshift pillow.
- 1 -
Tony’s first stitch had fallen out two days later while he was eating lunch (if pudding counted as lunch). His eyes had gleamed like he’d just discovered a new element… again.
“Three more,” Steve had reminded him, and some of the joy in Tony’s eyes faded away. The soldier, feeling guilty, had given him a peck on the nose. “Only three. You can do it.”
Tony had smiled as wide as he could, the cheek swelling making the gesture look awkward and painful. “Motivation. I like it.”
- 2 and 3 -
Tony didn’t notice that the second and third stitches had fallen out the next day until he’d been poking around in the back of his mouth with his tongue. Steve had been reading on the couch when his boyfriend had hurried over to him and wrenched the book from his hands. The bright look on the genius’ face was enough to temper the annoyance the soldier felt.
“Another stitch gone?”
Tony’s beamed. “Two!”
Steve shot him a long-suffering look. “Tony…”
“Oh, come on! JARVIS, back me up here?”
“My sensors indicate that Mr. Stark is, in fact, telling the truth.” The AI sounded impressed.
“You, too, J? Doesn’t anyone trust me?”
Steve chuckled at Tony’s chipmunk-cheeked pout. “Get over here so I can kiss you, you insufferable twit.”
Eagerly, Tony scrambled over to sit beside his boyfriend. His entire body vibrated with anticipation. The super soldier smiled indulgently before planting a lingering kiss on each of the genius’ cheekbones.
“Only one more left,” Tony announced cheerfully.
“Yeah, yeah. Do want me to make you mashed potatoes or not?”
- 4 -
“Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve, Steve, it’s out!”
“Whoa, there,” the super soldier cautioned, catching Tony by the shoulders before he could latch on, “JARVIS, is it safe for him to use a straw?”
“What does that have to do with anything?” Tony whined, trying in vain to break free of Steve’s superhuman grip.
JARVIS ignored him. “Mr. Stark will be able to use a straw in another twenty-four hours.”
“Thanks, JARVIS.” Steve turned his attention to his boyfriend. “That means we still have to be gentle.”
Tony’s expression was growing frantic. “Fine, just kiss me!”
“That means no tongue.”
“What, why?! It’s been five days!”
Steve looked him straight in the eyes. “Listen, Tony, we have to be careful. The incisions are still pretty fresh, and I don’t want you to get dry socket. I’ll still kiss you, but you have to be good and listen to me, okay?”
Tony frowned deeply, wriggling with renewed vigor. “I don’t wanna be good, I wanna make out with you!”
“I said no, Anthony,” Steve reprimanded sternly, keeping his hands firmly in place, “I am not going to hurt you because you were too impatient. We’ll call the surgeon’s office in the morning, just to be absolutely sure.”
“I can make you wait another five days, Tony. Don’t think I won’t.”
He huffed, crossing his arms over his arc reactor. “This is so unfair. You got me all excited for nothing!”
Steve sighed. “How about a compromise?”
“… I’m listening.”
A victorious grin flickered across Steve’s face before he leaned over to whisper in Tony’s ear.
- 5…? -
By lunchtime the following day, Tony was jittery with anticipation. He was impatient by nature, but this was torturous. It was practically an unspoken law of science that, if Anthony Stark had to wait for something, he would be as obnoxious about it as physically possible. It was his way, and it had been effective… until Steve.
Steve Rogers was, for lack of a better term, an anomaly in Tony’s life. He was a constant among variables, someone solid and reliable and warm. He scared the hell out of Tony. Starks didn’t trust anybody, not even each other, so for some stranger to enter his life so effortlessly… let’s just say that Tony hadn’t taken it too well. He propped his chin up with his hand and started thinking about the day he had dubbed The Revelation.
It wasn’t really until after the Loki disaster that things changed between them. Between the nightmares and his hairpin trigger with the dark, he hadn’t done a whole lot of sleeping in the weeks following. He holed himself up in his lab for days on end, working until he collapsed into a fitful state of unconsciousness. It hadn’t even been two weeks before the Captain had swept into the lab, an intense look on his face. Tony expected him to bark orders, drag him out, demand an explanation for his behavior. They had stood in silence for a loaded minute, a battle strategy already forming in the genius-playboy-philanthropist’s mind—
Steve cleared his throat, a blush creeping up his face. “Um… if you need someone to… y’know… talk with…” He coughed again, his eyes focusing on his shoes. “I have an idea of what you went through, so…” He gave a curt nod, still looking at the ground. “Just wanted you to know that I’m here if you need me.”
That… wasn’t what he had been expecting at all. Tony gaped at the super soldier, watching as even the tips of the Captain’s ears turned neon red. “What brought that on? I thought I was just a big man in a suit of armor, to you.” He knew it was a low blow to use Steve’s own words against him. Knowing and caring were different sides of the coin, though, and he was sure that the Captain was just looking out for the best interests of the team. He didn’t care about Tony. Not as a human, not the way he cared about the Avengers and their precious ‘prime directive.’
Steve looked up at Tony, his sad, blue eyes hollow. The pain and ancient mourning the genius saw there was enough to make him flinch. “I was wrong. And I will never be able to apologize enough.”
There was some more awkward silence before Tony finally found his voice. “Look, don’t worry about it. We both said some things, but we didn’t know each other.” He took a breath, forcing down his famous Stark pride. “I’m not mad, and I’m not holding anything against you, okay? Don’t sweat it.”
Steve’s spine was set, and he practically radiated military discipline. “If you file a report with Fury, I would understand. It’s nothing less than I deserve.”
Tony glared in annoyance, stalking toward the Captain. “Quit it with the chivalrous-machismo thing, all right? I told you, I’m not upset.”
“I need to be held responsible—” Steve began to argue, but Tony cut him off by rolling his eyes and stretching up onto his toes to plant a quick, soft kiss on the super soldier’s lips.
“Enough,” Tony admonished a very stricken-looking Captain America, “Listen very, very carefully. I, Anthony Edward Stark, son of Howard Stark, am not—in any way, shape, or form—angry with you, Steven Rogers. Cross my arc and hope to die.” Cheekily, he traced a broad “X” over the little machine. “You’re a great leader, and I’m proud to serve with you and the other Avengers. Seriously, not upset. At all. Understood?”
It took the blond a few blinks before he recovered enough to form a response. “Yeah, I think I get it.” With sure movements, Steve cupped Tony’s face in his hands and pressed their lips together more firmly…
“Tony, are you all right?”
The genius started, nearly banging his chin on the table as it slipped out of the cradle of his palm. A bright, cocky grin settled on his face as he tried to refocus on the present. “Hey, there, handsome. Did’ja call the office?”
Tony was practically bouncing in his seat. “And?!”
Steve looked through his lashes coyly. “You can use a straw, but westillhavetotakeiteasy!” He rushed through the rest as his boyfriend jumped out of his chair and practically ran the super soldier over. “Tony, hold on a sec—”
“You promised,” he whined, a full-blown pout on his face, “No more waiting, you said so!”
“… Uh, Tony?”
“Um…” Steve bit his lower lip, fighting back a cheek-splitting grin, “We had a deal, remember?”
Tony froze for a mere second before a huge smile exploded across his face. “Yes. Yes, we did.”
“So, uh… where to?”
The genius cocked an eyebrow as his Captain shifted nervously. “Whoa, tone it down there, Sparky. Your enthusiasm is overwhelming me.”
“Where. To?” Steve repeated, crossing his arms firmly.
Tony rolled his eyes. “Come with me.” Before his boyfriend could respond, Tony grabbed his hand and led him into the den. “Have a seat, beautiful.”
Steve looked upward in mock annoyance, but indulged his genius and settled onto the couch, hands tucked under his thighs.
Tony sauntered over to the ceiling vents, peering up the shaft. “Clint, if you’re up there—and I’m sure you are—tell the others that Steve and I will be in the den. You know the drill.”
A soft clang was all he got in response, but it was enough to bring a blush to Steve’s face. “Was that really necessary?”
“Don’t you remember what happened last time we ‘forgot’ to warn them about our little game?”
“Hey, that was all on you!”
“Really.” Tony’s eyes went predatory as he stalked forward.
The color on Steve’s cheeks darkened a full shade. “You said the whatever locks were in place, and that nobody could get through unless they used the emergency passcode.” He swallowed thickly as his boyfriend sauntered closer. “You… you said it was perfectly safe.”
“No,” Tony murmured playfully, planting his knees on either side of Steve’s thighs, “I said it was mostly perfectly safe. There’s a difference.”
“Hardly.” Steve sucked in a breath as those clever, calloused hands rested lightly over his hips.
That infamous eyebrow twitched upward again. “Is that so?” Tony flexed his fingers experimentally, watching his super soldier twitch. “Then how do you propose we keep two agile master assassins out of our hair, O Mighty Oracle of Wisdom?”
“You do have bedrooms here.” Steve had to bite his lip as Tony tightened his fingers more deliberately.
“Meh.” The genius scrunched his nose in mild distaste as he started to pull teasingly at the hem of his boyfriend’s shirt. “Too many implications. We’re not doing anything risqué.” The tips of his fingers began tracing lazy patterns on Steve’s abs. They tightened as Tony’s fingers wriggled, a half-groan, half-laugh forcing it’s way out of Steve’s chest. “Well… not too risqué, anyway.”
The Captain opened his mouth to reply, and Tony took his advantage. His quick hands began to dance, poking and prodding and wiggling mercilessly. Steve yelped, trying to shift away. “Tohony!”
“Yes, dear?” He pushed Steve’s blue t-shirt up so it bunched under his arms, letting the backs of his hands brush against every inch of skin he could.
Steve bit his cheek, fighting to keep his cool. “Take it eheheasy!”
“I’ll think about it.” A snarky grin flicked across his face. “Maybe.”
“Nononohohohoho!” Steve yelped, curling his hands into fists under his thighs as Tony let his fingers skim down his quivering stomach.
“This was your idea,” he genius reminded him playfully, letting his hands fall back to rest along his boyfriend’s sharp hipbones, “Stick ‘em up, hot stuff.”
Steve bit his lip nervously, raising his arms so Tony could take off his shirt. He lobbed the wad of blue fabric across the room as Steve hesitantly folded his hands behind his head.
“Damn,” Tony sighed, letting his dark eyes map out every inch of skin before him, “You are… so goddamn perfect.”
“That’s why you love me so much, isn’t it?” Steve grinned cheekily.
A sudden flash of shock burst to life on Tony’s face. He sat back on Steve’s knees, his hands falling into their laps. “What makes you say that?”
“Tony, I was joking,” Steve soothed, letting his hands fall to twine with his boyfriend’s, “I’m so far from perfect, it’s almost funny. But, you love me, and that’s all that matters. You make me a better person. No, you do,” Steve reprimanded firmly as Tony shook his head in disbelief, “You ground me, you crazy, wonderful, brilliant bastard.” A sweet, shy smile inched across his face. “So… are you gonna kiss me or not?”
“Yes, sir,” Tony murmured, shooting his super soldier a cocky grin.
“Can it,” Steve threatened teasingly, threading his fingers into Tony’s hair and pulling him in. Their lips barely brushed, Steve deliberately keeping the pace slow. Tony tolerated it, but just barely. He whined softly, shifting around on his soldier’s lap. Steve broke the kiss, laughing warmly.
“Steve, you promised!”
He snickered. “Then, c’mere, you beauty.”
Tony grinned wickedly. “Don’t forget about the tickles you promised me, too!”
“Yes, dear,” Steve murmured with a smile as their lips met again.
It was a while before either of them worried about Tony’s teeth.